ACCRA, (IRIN) – Health officials in Ghana are worried the rainy season, due to start in April, will fuel the spread of cholera, which has killed at least 69 people and stricken more than 5,000 in the past few months.
Five of Ghana’s 10 regions are affected, with Accra seeing the highest number of deaths to date – 36.
While Ghana has not pinpointed the source of the cholera bacterium, top health officials say poor sanitation systems and hygiene habits – including open defecation – are largely to blame for the epidemic, which they say is the worst in a decade. Authorities say it is time to crack down on open defecation, irregular rubbish collection and unhygienic food stands.
“My greatest fear is that the rains are coming yet the very conditions that triggered this epidemic are still there,” Director of Ghana Health Service Elias Sory told IRIN.
“People are not keeping themselves and the city clean,” he said, noting that people commonly dispose of human faeces in waterways and that, given the widespread use of makeshift wells, such actions are probably contaminating drinking water.