Ghana, Africa

Ghana, Africa IMG: via Shutterstock

This summer, there has been an outbreak of cholera in Ghana, which has killed at least 67 people and infected more than 5,000 others since June. The Ghana Health Service (GHS) said the outbreak was mostly centered in economically downcast communities in urban areas, which lack adequate toilets. These communities are most prominently located in the southern part of the country.

Most of the deaths have been in or near Ghana’s capital, Accra, which has put serious pressures on local health facilities, said Linda Van-Otoo, the GHS director for Greater Accra.

“[People] should wash their hands with tap water and soap and if possible avoid handshakes at public gatherings,” Otoo said. “People continue to buy food near choked drains and public toilets and that is dangerous.”

Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by bacteria, which leads to rapid dehydration and sometimes even death.  The victims of cholera are usually infected by water and food that is contaminated with human feces, which is in large part why impoverished communities tend to contract cholera more frequently than other better-off areas.

However, Ghana has so far recorded no cases of the Ebola virus that has killed more than 1,400 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since March, along with five people in Nigeria.

Ghana is a politically stable country but is facing several fiscal problems, which have been even more highlighted by the cholera outbreak. Ghana has seen economic growth of 8 percent for five years in a row with gold, cocoa and oil exports, but it still has a long way to go to implement the United Nations goals for reducing poverty. This outbreak is just one example of the severity of problems that can arise from poverty.