Tackling the after-effects of the floods

Thu, 11 Jun 2015 Source: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

Irmo, SC

10TH June, 2015

The death toll of the Accra floods is high—too high and climbing. In addition, there have been floods on a smaller scale in other places and there is pain in these places as well.

The finger-pointing is in full bloom. While that is part of the natural accountability after such events, we should spare some thought and do some planning for the after-effects of the floods.

Here are a few:

• Water sources have probably been contaminated and will lead to water-Bourne diseases, including Typhoid, Cholera and Hepatitis.

• The accumulation of stagnant water will lead to a proliferation of the vectors of disease—particularly, Mosquitoes. This will increase the incidence of Malaria and increase the chances of diseases like Yellow Fever as well.

• There will be increased levels of stress for people who have lost family as well as property.

• There will be post-traumatic stress, for survivors, healthcare workers and emergency workers.

• There will be negative economic consequences from destroyed businesses, destroyed properties, increased prices of goods and the general disruption of economic activity.

There are a few more but you get the idea.

It is time for government and all of us to purposively prevent the after effects of this disaster and help people overcome the challenges they face from this tragedy.

We should not be surprised by the water-Bourne diseases, the Malaria and the increased psychological problems that will unfold over the next few months and maybe years.

Have public health officials checked the safety of water supply to the affected communities?

Is there a public education campaign underway about prevention of water-Bourne diseases?

Is there active planning to spray residences and supply free ITN’s to affected families, particularly those with children?

It is encouraging that the government has announced that money has been set aside to deal with the crisis. Was this figure pulled out of thin air or was it based on scientific assessment?

While giving Korle-Bu and Ridge Hospitals money is appropriate, some money should go directly to those affected. In a country where patients on admission can miss medications that should taken with food because they cannot afford food, those giving medicines must also give food. In this case, food, unfortunately, may be medicine.

I urge Parliament to organize itself and hold hearings that will not only help show where officials failed to perform but more important, point the way forward about what needs to be done in the months and years ahead.

Finally, while commending the religious community for the proliferation of memorial services, they should open their wallets and lead efforts to help all of us do the same.

Together, let us support the widows and widowers and the orphans and parents of those who perished by doing the right things--- together.

God bless Ghana.

Arthur Kobina Kennedy

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina