Mr Ntow was speaking in Accra at the opening of a capacity development workshop on cholera, causes, prevention, management and effective media reportage for journalists across the country.
The two-day media training on cholera is to contribute to improved public education and information on the causes and management of the disease through improved media reportage.
He added that not only does diarrhoea kill children but it also affects the poor, women and children extensively.
“According to the league of developing countries diseases that cause death table, diarrhoea is ranked fourth with a record of 1,793,000 annually,” he said.
On cholera, Mr Ntow observed that, only 25 per cent of persons who are infected go down with the disease, whereas 80 per cent of people develop wild symptoms with 20 per cent developing full blown cases of cholera.
He therefore noted that for Ghana to curb these two diseases comprehensively and not see it as a seasonal plague there is the need for stakeholders to solve the problem of unavailability of quality and quantity water, and the presence of latrines.
“There should also be a broad sensitisation as well as educative programme on hand washing and personal hygiene,” he advised.
The workshop organised by the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development(MLGRD) , aimed at improving media personnel reportage and how discussions on cholera could help reduce the spread of the disease.
Mr Kwaku Quansah, Programmes Officer, EHSD, MLGRD, said the training aims at helping journalists to know how best to package and disseminate information on ways of educating and informing the citizenry on health issues.
“An assessment of some of the media reports and discussion on cholera reveals that many journalists and presenters do not understand the causes of the disease and could not describe well, the symptoms of cholera
“Some even hastily conclude that other diarrhoea related illness are cholera hence our engagement and partnership with the media to contribute to the eradication of bad reportage which only makes insignificant contribution and can raise unnecessary fear and panic,” he said.
Mr Quansah noted that Ghana is a cholera endemic country and almost every year, the country records varying degrees of the epidemic with 2014 being the severest registering 29,000 cases, doubling the second highest record of 14,000 in 1981.
The Programmes Officer observed that health issues need to be at the centre of all policy formulation and called for concerted efforts amongst stakeholders to efficiently help promote individual living standards as it is an essential commodity for the country’s development.
Mr Emmanuel Addai, Chief Executive Officer, Kings Hall Media, asked journalists to holistically accord health stories with the needed attention that would help promote people’s health.
He said for health issues to be an in-depth subject for the understanding of journalists and the public they inform, there is the need for an advocacy aimed at improving mechanism for addressing the issue.
The two-day workshop brought together journalists and other stakeholders all over the country to discuss, share and adopt new approaches of improving journalists' writing skills on cholera human reportage.
The participants called for collaborative and pragmatic measures amongst EHSD, government, institutions and other stakeholders’ to help curb the unhygienic ways citizens have adopted as a lifestyle.
Mr Isaac Kaledzi, National Coordinator, Ghana Water Journalists Network, advised colleagues to let lessons learnt over the two days reflects in their reportage to educate citizens and called for the engagement to be quarterly since it is worthwhile.
Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe water diarrhoea, which could lead to dehydration and even death if untreated. It is caused by eating food or drinking contaminated water with a bacterium called Vibrio Cholerae.
Among these are the symptoms of cholera are rapid heart rate, loss of skin elasticity (ability to return to original position quickly if pinched) dry mucous membranes, including the inside of the mouth, throat, nose and eyelids, low blood pressure, thirst and muscle cramps.