The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in partnership with the Ghana Education Service (GES), has launched a sanitation programme aimed at mobilising senior high school (SHS) students to promote key messages and action for preventing cholera and Ebola.
The programme is targeted at reaching over 750,000 SHS students from 874 SHSs in the country with the message of washing their hands with soap under running water.
It is also to create awareness on symptoms, prevention, improving health seeking behaviour and to provide information on what needs to be done during an outbreak.
An interactive platform has also been created using the mobile phone technology called ‘Agoo 5100’ to provide greater access to reliable information for young people.
While access to the platform is provided free-of-charge to all MTN users by dialing 5100, the line can also be accessed by all other mobile networks by dialing 0540118999.
Rushnan Murtaza, Deputy Representative of UNICEF, Ghana, in her remarks said the country’s sanitation issue although improving leaves a lot to be desired as institutions like schools lacked basic sanitation facilities like toilets.
She, however, added that the situation could be improved with a bit of time and effort on the part of everyone to prevent sanitation-related diseases like cholera and Ebola from occurring.
She said young people were catalysts for change in society and, therefore, with a simple change in lifestyle like washing hands under running water, ‘we can make a huge difference.’
Dr Victor Bampoe, Deputy Minister of Health, in a speech read on his behalf, said a multi-sectoral response like the launch of the SHS sanitation programme in combating cholera and Ebola was essential to tackle epidemics.
‘While Ghana Health Service provides overall guidance on health-related issues, I am glad that Ghana Education Service, together with UNICEF, is taking a lead on the mobilisation of young people,’ he said.
Madam Kate Opoku, Director of the School Health Education Programme (SHEP), said the partnership would serve as a reinforcement of activities to ensure school children were well-informed about the two diseases and become effective change agents in society.
Joana Adamson, Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, speaking on behalf of donor agencies that are supporting the country in its Ebola response, said with a united effort and the continuous support for development partners, ‘the country can beat Ebola and cholera if we all work together.’
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri
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