Published on: 13/04/2023
Dunkwa-On-Offin, Ghana, 23 March, 2023 – The Upper Denkyira East Municipal Assembly (UDEMA), the Municipal Health Department, IRC and allied partners launched the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) master plan and the rollout initiative to improve health and quality of life in the municipality.
The launch of the Anesvad Foundation funded master plan and the rollout initiative, called, ‘WASH services in skin-NTDs endemic areas — Improving Health and Quality of Life’ marks the start of the WASH and NTDs master plan implementation and leveraging of partnerships to mitigate the prevalence of skin related NTDs through the achievement of safe and sustainable water and sanitation for all in Upper Denkyira East Municipality.
Delivering the keynote address, Hon. Ebenezer Forson Appiah, Upper Denkyira East Municipal Chief Executive said, “Today’s gathering can be a turning point. The municipality has a well-developed master plan for WASH and NTDs. This master plan will enhance the partnership between all stakeholders through the implementation of a coordinated vision, strategy and purpose. It gives us an overview to appreciate the costs for achieving the goals we have set for ourselves,” increase the proportion with access to safely managed services (access to water which is free from contamination, and available on premises, when needed) from 10% to 15 %, with the remaining 85% having access to basic water services by 2030.
He continued, “It provides the basis for mobilising resources and commitment from all partners to implement this wonderful plan. The benefits of this plan cut across health and the economy, and will empower citizens and drive progress across the municipality. The overall benefit of this plan is a municipality where:
Speaking on behalf of Dr. Mrs. Nana Konama Kotey, National Buruli Ulcer Control & National Yaws Eradication Programme - Disease Control, Ghana Health Service (GHS), Irene Anuwa-Amarh, Deputy Director Nursing Services stated that NTDs rank among the four most devastating groups of communicable diseases and tend to thrive in developing regions of the world, where water quality, sanitation, and access to health care are substandard. She said, “There are a group of 20 water related conditions that are mainly prevalent in tropical areas where over 1 billion people living in impoverished communities are affected globally. Ghana is endemic for about 12 of these NTDs, namely, Lymphatic Filariasis, Onchocerciasis, Trachoma, Schistosomiasis, Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis, Buruli ulcer, Yaws, Leprosy, Guinea Worm, Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), Cutaneous Leishmaniasis and Rabies.”
According to her, almost all the regions of Ghana have one or more of the NTDs, with over 25 million people being at risk of contracting them, especially children under 15 years of age. On the effects of NTDs, the Deputy Director stated that these diseases perpetuate a vicious cycle of poverty and disease, cause disability, disfigurement, and stigma, and have detrimental effects on child development, school attendance, agricultural and economic productivity.
“While lack of awareness, unsafe water and sanitation continue to present challenges, the Ghana Neglected Tropical Disease programme has made good progress. Trachoma and Guinea Worm have been eradicated, whilst a few are on the way for certification. Water, sanitation, and hygiene are critical in the prevention and management of all NTDs earmarked for control, elimination or eradication by 2030,” she emphasised.
A joint presentation by Ebenezer Tetteh, the Municipal Statistician of UDEMA and Veronica Ayi-Bonte of IRC Ghana gave an overview of the Anesvad Foundation funded WASH and NTDs master plan project, covering partnerships - IRC Ghana, GHS-NTD Unit, UDEMA, and the Upper Denkyira East Municipal Health Department; and the project details - development process, challenges, shared vision for 2030, key targets and strategies; as well as highlights of the rollout project - “WASH services in skin-NTDs endemic areas—Improving Health and Quality of Life.”
Veronica Ayi-Bonte announced that the eighteen (18) months WASH services in skin-NTDs endemic areas’ project will be implemented in five (5) target communities in the Upper Denkyira East Municipal Assembly, selected in consultation with the Municipal Assembly and Municipal Health Department to ensure that the people in skin NTD endemic communities are the primary beneficiaries of the project. She said, “This project seeks to address WASH and NTDs in an integrated manner, using an inclusive selection criterion that prioritises endemic communities for interventions.”
She outlined the mode of project implementation - “IRC Ghana will collaborate with the Municipal Assembly to improve WASH services and with the Municipal Health Department to build upon NTD surveillance activities. We will provide technical support to build the capacity and systems for the WASH and health officers in the Municipal Assembly; support and improve access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services, and to eradicate, eliminate or control NTDs in the municipality. We will also build our networks of key stakeholders to raise awareness, mobilise resources, and improve the health and well-being of NTD sufferers and their families.”
In his closing comments, the Hon. Municipal Chief Executive expressed his appreciation to all stakeholders, especially the team that led the development of the master plan - the technical committee, Anesvad Foundation and IRC. He said, "I am inspired by this gathering. I thank IRC for the good work they are doing globally, especially on the WASH programmes. Our municipality is grateful for their support over the past years." He called for more support to accelerate the implementation of the master plan - “It is our ardent plea and proposal for all agencies to publish the master plan on their respective websites to attract the attention and interest of sponsors across the globe.”
The two-fold session attracted over fifty (50) participants drawn from the Municipal Assembly, NTD unit of the GHS, Municipal Health Department, Municipal Education Directorate, agencies, departments, civil society organisations, traditional authorities, faith-based organisations, para-military institutions, members from NTD communities and the media among others.
About the UDEMA WASH and NTDs masterplan
Upper Denkyira East Municipal Assembly (UDEMA) is one of the 22 Metropolitan, Municipal and Districts Assemblies (MMDAs) in the Central Region of Ghana where 20 MMDAs are endemic for NTDs including UDEMA. The municipality has a rural to urban ratio of 48.29: 51.71 and a male to female ratio of 50.2: 49.8. The total population is 110,141 with 10% access to potentially safely managed water services, 72% access to basic services, 6% limited water services, 11% using an unimproved source (2021 Population and Housing Census). Linking WASH and NTDs has clear potential to impact on multiple NTDs through a single area of intervention.
In 2022, IRC Ghana together with the technical team from UDEMA and the Municipal Health Department developed the WASH and NTDs master plan with funding from the Anesvad Foundation to mitigate the prevalence of skin related NTDs through the provision of safe and sustainable water and sanitation for all in the municipality. The Municipal Assembly is the planning and development authority that owns the WASH and NTDs Master Plan and its implementation, working together with the Municipal Health Directorate and partners.