An international charity organization has urged the government of Ghana to prioritize the improvement in the provision of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in schools to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in academic communities as schools prepare to reopen.
Global charity, WaterAid said in a released received here on Friday that without sustainable WASH services to enable the practice of good hygiene such as hand washing, this primary defense against COVID-19 would elude millions of Ghanaian children in schools.
Official data shows that about 15,500 (62 percent) of public elementary schools in the West African country do not have water for regular hand washing.
Before the outbreak of the pandemic, studies had shown that the provision of the necessary WASH facilities was abysmal, and Water Aid warns that “This situation will expose most children to the risk of COVID-19 infection when schools reopen. “
A study conducted by UNICEF in 127 schools across the country in 2018 showed that 33 percent of the students washed hands in communal basins, while 24 percent shared single cotton towels to dry their hands after washing.
It added that only 16 percent of the schools surveyed had functional water facilities, with 83 percent of those with functioning water facilities having hand washing stations.
“WASH in schools is more critical now than before due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Children need to be supported to regularly wash their hands and follow the COVID-19 protocols when they go back to school,” the head of policy, advocacy and campaigns at WaterAid Ghana George Yorke said.
Without WASH facilities, Yorke warned that it would be extremely challenging for school authorities to enforce regular and proper hand washing.
He urged the government to work through the Ministry of Education to ensure that every elementary school in the country gets access to the necessary WASH infrastructure that would support hand hygiene and menstrual hygiene management for girls during menstruation.
The government of Ghana has set up a committee to hold consultations with stakeholders to determine the appropriate time to reopen schools after they were shut down in March to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19 in schools.
As of Friday morning, Ghana had recorded 43, 841 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 72 new infections confirmed. The recovered and discharged increased to 42,246, with 270 deaths, and the active cases stood at 1,325. Enditem