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Health News Fri, 6 Jun 2008

UNICEF, EC assisting in Guinea worm eradication Northern Region

Accra, June 6, GNA- The European Commission (EC) and the United Children's Fund (UNICEF) have provided 40 motorcycles to nine district assemblies in the Northern Region to help monitor activities of the Integrated Approach to Guinea Worm Eradication through Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene project in the region, Five vehicles and nine computers and printers among other logistical and technical support had already been provided to partners at the district and regional levels.

A release from UNICEF made available to the Ghana News Agency said the ?20-million project began in June last year with ?15 million from the EC and ?5 million from UNICEF and will run through December 2011. The statement said "Developed in consultation with all stakeholders, the objective of the project is to eradicate guinea worm and other water borne/sanitation related diseases by increasing access to clean water for the targeted populations. It also seeks to improve coverage for sanitation and basic hygiene with an emphasis on hygiene behaviour change."

It said the project was being implemented in Gonja, East Gonja, Gushiegu, Karaga, Nanumba North, Savelugu-Nanton, Tolon-Kumbungu, Yendi and Zabzugu-Tatale districts and they were selected because of the prevalence of guinea worm.

The statement said as the project was under constant review, other districts that would be found to be guinea worm endemic might be included.

It said the core of the programme, which is being executed at the district and community level with technical support from UNICEF, was to address four key areas.

It is to increasing the capacity of district assemblies and other stakeholders with requisite skills to plan, coordinate, implement and sustain a demand responsive approach for guinea worm eradication, drinking water supply, and basic sanitation and hygiene interventions. The programme seeks to increasing access to and the use of sustainable drinking water by undertaking district specific feasibility studies on factors affectin g water delivery and financing options and stakeholder interventions.

The statement said the programme would ensure constructing and maintaining water supply systems which would include 270 new boreholes, 80 rehabilitated boreholes, 20 dug wells, 60 limited mechanised water schemes and 30 alternative water supply systems (rainwater harvesting, infiltration galleries, and other innovations) as pilot interventions in areas with poor groundwater resources.

The scheme would also work towards increasing basic sanitation delivery and coverage by supporting public orientations and marketing of latrines through community/school outreach programmes; facilitating the construction of 48,000 household latrines and sanitation facilities for schools and health institutions; and developing promotional tools, materials, and a range of sanitation costs and technology options that are relevant for the communities.

The statement said the programme would focus on "Emphasising on improving behaviour change so that communities adopt safe hygiene practices such as hand washing with soap; supporting community and school programmes for hygiene behaviour change; developing Information Education Materials to help effect changes in behaviour; and the development and implementation of district and regional level hygiene behaviour change communication plans.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories in the world to assist children survive and thrive from early childhood through adolescence.

The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. 06 June 08

Source: GNA