Akosombo, Kpong dams spillage: Victims brace for cholera, typhoid
The North Tongu, South Tongu and Central Tongu districts have been declared public health emergency zone,with growing concernover the highchances of cholera, typhoid fever and waterborne diseases diseases in the flood-hit areas in the Volta Region.
Malaria cases are also expected to soar in the affected areas in the wake of the deluge caused by the spillage from the Akosombo and Kpong dams.
The Regional Director of Public Health, Dr Senanu Kwesi Djokoto, disclosed this in an exclusive interview at Mepe yesterday.
“For now, we have a public health emergency risk at hand, and we need to activate all the public health emergency mechanisms to contain the situation,” he said.
He cautioned that if there was no immediate intervention, the vulnerable population of women, children and the aged would suffer the most.
So far, Dr Djokoto said, the Regional Public Health Emergency Operations Centre and the Rapid Response Team had been activated to address the situation.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) has set up emergency operations centres in the most affected district, North Tongu, to coordinate all disaster-related activities.
Dr Djokoto said an isolation centre, identified by the case management team, was in operation at Battor Catholic Hospital.
He said the serious mobilisation of medicine and non-medicine consumables in the affected areas was underway.
Dr Djokoto said a significant number of health workers had been deployed to the affected areas but did not disclose the specific number.
He mentioned the lack of adequate accommodation for displaced health staff and inadequate supply of potable water, especially in the safe havens and severely affected communities, as challenges facing efforts to address the situation.
The absence of adequate sanitary facilities and conditions in the havens, especially among children and female adolescents, also posed a considerable challenge to those efforts, Dr Djokoto added.
As of last Monday, the make-shift clinic set up last Friday at St Kizito Senior High School in Mepe had recorded 20 cases of malaria, skin infection and general body pains.
At Mepe, the people are grappling with the stench from the heavily polluted flood waters.
The Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, said the flood contained large volumes of faecal matter from the community pit latrines.
He gave an assurance that the Volta Regional Coordinating Council (VRCC) would continue to work hand in hand with NADMO to ensure adequate supply of potable water to the populace.
He entreated the people to refrain from consuming surface water in the communities.
Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament (MP) for the North Tongu Constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has called for a parliamentary probe into the spillage of the Kpong and Akosombo dams, which has displaced over 26,000 people in the lower Volta Basin.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of the launch of his Mobile Relief Caravan at Mepe, Mr Ablakwa said indications were that the Volta River Authority (VRA) would continue to spill more water, which would most likely displace even more communities and people in the area.
The MP said the VRA should be held accountable for the disaster and that the people should be made to receive compensation for their losses.
"People must not get away with this so that there will be reforms in order that this does not recur," Mr Ablakwa said.
The Mobile Relief Caravan is a system designed by Mr Ablakwa to assist displaced persons in about 19 camps the MP had set up as a way of ameliorating the plight of the people.
The North Tongu area, particularly Mepe, is the worst hit, with nearly 10,000 displaced as of last Monday.
The relief caravan is expected to reach people who may not be able to access traditional relief distribution points, while also providing a more flexible and swift response to the crisis.
The communities, which are predominantly engaged in fishing and farming, have seen their livelihoods impacted as the water levels have destroyed most farmlands, while the levels in the Volta Lake are also very high.
The National Inland Canoe Fishermen Council has said that the conditions are no longer conducive for fishing.
Mr Ablakwa, who has secured a relief package which consists of bags of rice, maize, sugar, cooking oil, canned fish, mosquito nets, detergents, tissue papers, mosquito repellents, sanitary towels and life jackets, among others for distribution to the 19 camps, hopes to reduce the burden on local resources.
Describing the disaster as avoidable, Mr Ablakwa said his office had started collating data on all affected people, and destroyed properties and was getting them quantified to enable the affected individuals and households to demand for compensation.
He suggested that the country needed to think about an engineering solution to the challenge where the water being spilled could be channelled into irrigation to improve agricultural production.
"The people gave out their lands for the construction of two dams so we can have electricity to industrialise and create jobs, and yet till date have not received compensations, and spilling the dam to displace them from their homes further should not be a price they should pay for such a strategic national asset," Mr Ablakwa said.
Instead, he said, the people ought to be receiving gratitude from the VRA instead of being chased out of their homes and being "dehumanised while the authority gets away with it".
He said while the community lauded the President for his visit, it would be more appropriate to develop immediate plans to alleviate the plight of the people.
"We have a humanitarian crisis at hand and people need food, blankets, mosquito nets, water, electricity and in times like this too, we should be talking about compensation plans for the victims, considering that it is not a natural disaster, rather a violation of the rights of the people by the VRA," Mr Ablakwa said.
He commended the resilience of the youth in the community in saving children, the aged and women from being drowned in their homes.