Submitted by Hallie Paige Arrigon
To celebrate the Ghanaian holiday on Friday, I ventured off the airfield to tour the dam at Akosombo. The dam was constructed during the 1960s to generate electricity for rural communities across the region. Lake Volta, the world’s largest artificial lake, formed as a result of this intervention in natural processes. Electricity from the dam certainly has a positive impact on the health and safety of some individuals and communities who have gained access to refrigeration, electric lighting, and similar luxuries. However, many of the communities that are situated along Lake Volta and served by MoM remain without electricity and have instead suffered health threats imposed by the dam. Transforming an active river into a massive lake created the perfect environment for the snails that carry the schistosomiasis parasite. Schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia) can cause many unpleasant symptoms like blood in the urine and stool as well as a variety of long-term consequences, including impaired growth and development in children and infertility and cervical cancer in women. The disease remains alarmingly prevalent around Lake Volta. For this reason, MoM recently distributed health education materials targeting schistosomiasis to the communities participating in the ETCHE Project and remains active in the Bilharzia Control Forum Implementation Committee.