The Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit (EHSU) of the Northern Region (N/R) has called on religious bodies in the Region to provide improved latrines and hand washing facilities at their premises to serve their members.
Mr Rex Jakpa Mumuni, N/R Director of EHSU, who made the call at the sixth N/R Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) Alliance Meeting in Tamale, said this would guarantee the health of worshippers at the churches and mosques.
The WASH Alliance Meeting, held quarterly under the auspices of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) of the N/R for stakeholders in the WASH sector in the Region, was to learn about on-going initiatives by government and other partners to provide portable water to the people of the Region.
Mr Mumuni said if the churches and mosques provided improved latrines and hand washing facilities at their premises, worshippers who encountered stomach upset during worship could visit such facilities to free their bowels and wash their hands before continuing with the worship service.
He observed that networking, hand-shaking and other forms of touch took place during religious events such as church services and prayer times at mosques, adding failure to wash hands could lead to transmission of diseases.
He questioned; “Do you know where and how worshippers at churches and mosques go to free their bowels when they have serious stomach upset and have to go to toilet?
Mr Mumuni said the provision of improved latrines and hand washing facilities at churches and mosques would not only guarantee the health of worshippers but also help to reduce open defaecation.
Mr Mumuni also stressed the need for communities in the Region to move from open defaecation free status to sanitized communities to prevent cholera and other water-borne diseases.
According to the 2011 statistics of the EHSU, less than 10 per cent of people in the Northern Region wash their hands with soap whiles the number of people with access to improved latrine is less than 30 per cent.
Mr John Aduakye, Chief Hydrogeologist of the CWSA of the N/R said 63 per cent of residents in the Region had access to portable water.
Mr Aduakye said, however, that water coverage for Kumbungu District, which is the source point of water to Tamale and some parts of the Region, was only 26 per cent whiles Savelugu/Nanton Municipality had 90 per cent coverage.
He said water supplied to the Chereponi District had fluoride, which had effects on the dental health of the people, but added that efforts were on-going to remove the fluoride from the water.
Mr Eric Chimsi, Country Coordinator of WASH Alliance Ghana called on partners to align their projects with national policy directions towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. GNA