Provost Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Kwesi Yankah, says ignorance about emerging and preventable diseases and epidemics among Ghanaians is taking a toll on them.

He noted that references to such catastrophes and calamities are considered verbal taboos, sometimes, unduly stirring national grief.

Prof. Yankah recounted various cases in some parts of Ghana, citing the Volta Region where strange diseases, such as unusual enlargement of testicles or swelling of the foot in vicinities encircled by ‘mountains of refuse dumps’ are attributed to spiritual forces by the people.

Opening a course in Epidemiology and Health Systems Management for District Health Managers from Sierra Leone, Prof. Yankah said diseases easily collocated with ignorance and illiteracy constitutes the bane of the African continent.

The course, organised to strengthen delivery of health services in five selected districts of Bo, Bonthe, Kenema, Tonkolili and Port Loko in Sierra Leone, was run by the School of Public Health of University of Ghana with technical support from UNFPA and the African Development Bank.

The six-week course is aimed at improving the skills of the district health practitioners in disease surveillance, outbreak investigations and management to enable them organize and deliver appropriate health services in Sierra Leone.

The training, a project divided into three components: strengthening district health systems, reproductive and child health programme and establishing a project management team is to address the severe shortage of trained professionals and management personnel as a result of the protracted conflict accompanying attrition of human resource.

There are fewer than 100 doctors of varying ages and specialty mix, in active service whilst other health professionals are less than the required to deliver and cope with the services.

Prof. Yankah noted that the short course would help build bridges with the wider society and bring to bear the large research findings to find solutions to society’s manifold problems.

Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Osman Foday Yansanah, noted his country is encountering the daunting task of rebuilding and equipping a health infrastructure that was destroyed during the civil war.

This, he said, has made it more crucial to forge partnerships with development partners and the Ghana School of Public Health to train more health care givers and improve their managerial skills, which, “will go along way in augmenting individual national programmes to improve our collective human resource base”.

Mr Emmanuel Tofoatsse, UNFPA Country Representative to Sierra Leone, commended authorities of University of Ghana for accepting to train the participants and called for the intensification and scaling-up of good practices within the socio-cultural context of Africa.

UNFPA, he said, is poised to help Sierra Leone to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) four and five which is to reduce maternal mortality by two thirds and fight child mortality.

Source: GNA