Opening the Community Health and Planning Services compound (CHPS) in Ekorso, Ghana.
Beneficiary communities in the Partnering for Better Livelihoods in the Gold Supply Chain Project, Ekorso and Akyem Mampong in Ghana, were also caught in this situation. Neither of the two communities had a health facility. While Akyem Mampong has a health facility close by, residents of Ekorso had to travel 5 kilometers to access basic health care.
The communities were also confronted with illegal mining known as “galamsey”. Galamsey involves hazardous working conditions and low levels of environmental and health awareness. This exposes the miners and communities to a lot of health hazards.
The Partnering for Better Livelihoods in the Gold Supply Chain Project was set up to improve the livelihoods of artisanal and small-scale miners and their communities. It was designed to ensure that communities, where the participating mines are located, automatically became beneficiaries. Increasing access to improved health care was one of the key objectives of the project in the two communities.
Increasing health awareness in mining communities
Recognizing the health challenges of the mining communities, Solidaridad conducted a health needs assessment in the project communities. Based on the results, a Health Action Plan was developed and implemented.
Solidaridad partnered with a local radio station, Obuoba FM to undertake a bi-monthly hour-long health discussion on radio over a period of six months. The programme was part of efforts to educate the general public about common health issues, quality health care and lifestyle related health issues. Community outreaches were also organized in partnership with the Atiwa District Health Directorate.
To ensure improved access to potable water and sanitation in the communities, Water and Sanitation (WATSAN) Committees were revived. Although the WATSAN Committees were in existence in the two communities, they had become inactive. These committees are responsible for the management of water and sanitation infrastructure in their communities.
Kwadwo Boadu is a 56-year-old farmer and a resident of Akyem Mampong and secretary of the WATSAN Committee. “We create awareness of environmental health issues in our community. In the mining communities there are a lot of health related issues, because of the pits that are left uncovered mosquitos breed in them and cause malaria. We try to educate the miners to cover the pits and also educate community members to sleep under mosquito nets. This will reduce malaria infection,” Boadu said.
Each of the WATSAN committees developed and implemented an action plan in order to improve on their community’s environment.
Improving access to health care in Ekorso
A Community Health Planning Service (CHPS) compound was built for residents of Ekorso. The facility will address the basic health needs of the people. The CHPS Compound project was undertaken with the support of the Atiwa District Assembly, the Eastern Regional and Atiwa District Health Directorates of the Ghana Health Service and Key Empire Mining Company, a small-scale mine located in Ekorso. The health care facility will serve a population of approximately 3,000.
To ensure ownership of the facility, a seven member Community Health Volunteers group has been established to support the management of the health facility.
Frederick Omane is a 37-year-old member of the health volunteers group and also operates a drug store in the Ekorso community. He is a first-aid provider trained by Solidaridad who encounters community members that become sick on a daily basis. Frederick notes, since the community started promoting environmental health, their health situation has improved.
He expressed his appreciation for the improved health situation in his community.
“The help to Ekorso has been amazing. Solidaridad has helped us with a clinic and we are grateful. Life in this community will get better for us,” Omane said with a smile.
About the programme
The Partnering for Better Livelihoods in the Gold Supply Chain Project was implemented in the Eastern and Ashanti Regions of Ghana from 2014 to March 2017. The overall objective of the project was to improve the livelihoods of artisanal and small-scale miners and communities around them. The project‘s specific objectives included supporting Artisanal and Small Mines to earn more income from improved management and production and increased volume of traceable gold available to buyers at the mine level. As regards to the community component, the project sought to increase awareness of and access to health care, while empowering women economically.