Government has released GH¢ 5,500,000 million cedis for the provision of water in the guinea worm endemic communities to support the contribution from donor partners.
An additional GH¢ 50,000 (500 million cedis) has also been voted for free treatment of guinea worm, Dr Gladys Norley Ashittey, a deputy Minister of Health, said at a day's guinea worm eradication media workshop in Accra on Wednesday.
The media encounter, designed by the Guinea Worm Eradication Programme (GWEP) in collaboration with the stakeholders, was to update the media on the latest development on the Programme.
The Deputy Minister said it was unfortunate that Ghana ranked second on the world chart on Guinea worm after Sudan and noted that government had declared guinea worm eradication a national priority and a disaster in the Northern Region.
She said though the figures were reducing, there was an increase in the reported cases, specifically in Savelugu, which recorded over 700 cases in January alone.
Savelugu in the Northern region has been the highest endemic district and had recorded 64 per cent of the total national figure.
A total of 2,693 cases were recorded in 2006 in the country and 3,033 cases has been recorded as at June 2007.
The Northern Region recorded 98 per cent and only 100 cases have been recorded from the other nine regions, which were mostly imported from the Northern Region.
"For the last three months, we have produced reductions when compared to the same months in 2006 and if this trend should continue, we expect additional progress in the coming months," Dr Ashittey said.
Dr Ashittey commended the European Commission and UNICEF for their contribution of 20 million Euro in support of the water and sanitation project in nine most endemic districts in the Northern Region.
He also acknowledged the contribution of the other donor partners and called for strengthening of collaboration between them.
Dr Andrew Seidu Korkor, National Programme Manager of GWEP, giving the status report for the first six months of this year, said the cases for the mid- year had increase due the high cases recorded in Savelugu as a result of the breakdown of the Tamale water system the previous year.
He explained that guinea worm had a year incubation period and interventions put it would only be noticed after a year.
Dr. Korkor said when the national eradication programme was launched in 1989 there were nearly 180,000 cases in all regions in Ghana but the case load had since reduced by about 98 per cent to 3,981 at the end of 2005.
During 2006, the case load remained stagnant at 4,130 with 2005 and 2006 recording the lowest cases ever.
Dr. Korkor urged the media to help in the eradication programme by educating the public through their reports.
Mr. Jim Niquette, Country Technical Advisor, the Carter Centre, said his organisation had been involved in the eradication effort since 1989 when the national intervention started and expressed the hope that with the support of members of communities affected by the disease, there would be a total eradication in Ghana as achieved by other countries in West Africa.
Dr Joaquim Saweka, World Health Organisation Country Representative to Ghana, called for active contribution of the communities affected and advised them not to regard guinea worm as a cosmetic issue but a highly debilitating disease.
He called on the people to be more proactive, ensure early detection of the disease, adhere to the containment rules and prevent the spread by infected persons by not stepping in water.
"This disease affects agriculture, education, production and development and is most devastating on children."
Ms. Lamisi Mbilah, Miss Ghana 2005 and Miss World with a Purpose, appealed for more support to eradicate guinea worm.
"This disease is not an individual disease or regional one but Ghana's problem and we all have to contribute in our small ways to ensure its total eradication."
Ms Mbilah, who is also Ghana's ambassador for guinea worm eradication, pledged to continue soliciting funds from corporate organisations to assist in the eradication programme.