Out of 21 public latrines, only seven are water closets with improvised hand washing facilities, the Ghana News Agency has found out.
Patrons of the seven water closet toilets pay between 30 and 40 pesewas, which some people described as reserved for a few because of the cost.
Consequently, many more people described as belonging to the ‘lower class’ pay 10 pesewas and are seen in long queues waiting to use latrines with no hand washing facilities.
A few of the toilets are privately owned and some built by the Municipal Assembly and handed over to communities to manage.
“The situation in our public toilets is very bad. This is the cause of the several cases of typhoid, diarrhoea and cholera we are recording and I am not surprised,” Mr Richard Mensah Ahiagbede, Ho Municipal Environmental Health Officer said.
He described the maintenance of public toilets as a “difficult job”.
“We are doing our routine education but I think the Assembly must ensure that the latrines are managed well especially those in communities or close them down leaving those in the markets and schools,” he suggested.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme report on water and sanitation for 2006 ranked Ghana 48th out of 51 African countries that use improved toilet facilities.
This means that only 10 per cent of the country’s population use improved toilet facilities.
The Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) during a Global Hand Washing Day noted that hand washing with soap is one of the most cost effective ways to prevent diarrhoea disease and pneumonia.
The Agency said these diseases together claim the lives of approximately 3.5 million children in Ghana every year.
It said more than 5,000 children under the age of five die every day as a result of diarrhoea diseases, caused in part by unsafe drinking water, lack of access to basic sanitation facilities and poor hygiene.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the US said, “in order to kill off the germs, all it takes are 15 to 20 seconds of vigorous hand washing with soap and water.”
Majority of illness in the world is said to be caused by faecal matter and the lack of sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection.
Experts say one gram of faeces can contain 10 million viruses, one million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs.