The infection rate of cholera has decreased from 2,000 cases a week to less than 1,000, the Minister of Health, Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, has stated. He said as of September 30, 2014, 150 people had lost their lives out of the 18,902 reported cases in nine out of the 10 regions in the country.
The disease, which spread from the Greater Accra Region, has so far been recorded in 96 districts in the nine affected regions since its outbreak in June this year.
The Northern Region has not recorded any cholera case.
The Health Minister was speaking at a passing-out parade of 193 emergency medical technicians (EMTs) driver recruits at the Fire Academy and Training School (FATS) in Accra yesterday.
The recruits underwent 12-month training and education, as well as practical attachment to ambulance stations and health facilities.
Dr Agyeman-Mensah blamed the rapid spread of cholera in the country on factors such as food and water sold on the streets, poor sanitation, poor access to safe water and floods that led to the contamination of domestic water sources.
“Again, poor personal hygiene, broken-down waste disposal systems and inadequate cholera treatment centres have resulted in an increase in person-to-person transmission of the disease, causing it to spread rapidly,” he said.
With regard to Ebola, Dr Agyeman-Mensah stated that as of the end of September, Ghana had tested 100 suspected cases of the disease at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) and “all have proved negative”.
As part of preparations to fight the viral disease, he said, the government had provided 10,000 personal protective equipment to all regional health directorates, teaching hospitals, the National Ambulance Service (NAS), the Police and the Military hospitals, private medical practitioners, border posts and tertiary institutions.
“Special and well-equipped isolation centres are being set up for effective Ebola case management,” he said, adding that the Tema centre was about 95 per cent complete, while the Kumasi and Tamale centres were nearing completion.
“The government is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts at combating the spread of Ebola from neighbouring countries,” he said; and called on Ghanaians to support the initiative.
The minister stated that since the establishment of the NAS, the number of ambulance stations had increased from seven in 2004 to 124 in 2013 in all the 10 regions, with two dispatch centres in Accra and Kumasi.
He added that the fleet of ambulances had also increased from seven in 2004 to 161 in 2013 while the staff strength had risen from 67 to 1,316 within the same period.
“The milestones achieved by the NAS, in spite of both financial and material challenges, are a clear indication that the vision and mission of the critical service provider has been upheld,” he stressed.
Dr Agyeman-Mensah said the provision of emergency care which provided pre-hospital care for the sick and the wounded was an integral part of healthcare delivery.
He was, however, worried that emergency care at health facilities had always been a challenge.
“I, therefore, urge the NAS to continue to organise in-service training and workshops to develop and strengthen its Emergency Medical Care System to improve the health of the population, as well as make emergency health care accessible,” he stated.