Dr Ekow Kaitoo

THE EAST Akim Municipal Director of Health, Dr Edmund Ekow Kaitoo has warned that if measures are not taken against the booming ‘galamsey’ industry in the East Akim municipality, the health of people in the area would be greatly affected.

He said cases of malaria among children under five, teenage pregnancy and abortion have risen sharply in the past year tracing them directly to ‘galamsey’ activities in the area.

Childhood malaria has risen by 27% and this is easily attributable to stagnant water trapped in open galamsey pits that have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, he noted.

“The rise in malaria cases among children has become worrisome because it puts a lot of pressure on drugs provided by government,” he said adding parents must be conscious of protecting their children against mosquito bites by using treated mosquitoes nets provided freely by the Ministry of Health.

Dr Kaitoo was speaking at the first review meeting of the East Akim Municipal Health Directorate at Kyebi in the Eastern region.

He said abortion rates also shot up due to the fact that most parents have shirked their caretaking responsibilities adding these innocent girls easily fall prey to monetary favours offered by galamsey operators who impregnate them then leave them to their fate.

“We are treading on dangerous ground because if these girls are having unprotected sex resulting in pregnancies then most of them are also at risk of contracting the deadly HIV virus which could have serious health implications on people in this area,” he said.

Dr Kaitoo also explained that the pollution of water bodies by  galamsey operators also poses health problems to the people who rely mostly on rivers for domestic purposes stressing  “government and chiefs from the area must come together to ensure they regulate the activities of these galamsey operators. Water bodies have been contaminated and this could be a recipe for cholera outbreak in the municipality.”

The municipal health director noted however that maternal deaths reduced from six cases in 2010 to two in 2011 saying this was due to advocacy on safe motherhood including periodic durbars in the communities by health personnel.  

Dr Kaitoo commended the municipal office of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for promptly paying all bills sent to them but said introduction of the capitation policy could defeat the purpose of the health insurance system.

Dr Kaitoo also bemoaned the attitudes of most chiefs and assembly members in the area who refuse to attend its review meetings saying this was undermining the directorate’s educational programmes.

From Thomas Fosu Jnr, Kyebi

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