Prof Agyeman Badu Akosa, the Speaker
The University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), observed the World Health Day on 7th April, 2022, on the theme, ‘Environmental Health Challenges in Mining Communities’ as part of activities marking the 70th Institutional Anniversary of UMaT. The programme was organised to sensitise the University Community and the general public on the possible dangers of mining activities on human health and the environment.
Prof Anthony Simons, Pro Vice Chancellor and Chairman for the programme, in his address, stated that ‘good health is a priceless and invaluable gift of life’, hence people should avoid engaging in activities that will hinder them from enjoying good health. He advised that although some health challenges, specifically, hereditary and genetic ones are inevitable, their impact on lives can be alleviated through healthy living practices.
Prof Anthony Simons, Pro Vice Chancellor
Assoc Prof Solomon Nunoo, Dean, Office of Research, Innovation and Consultancy (ORIC), stated that the University selected the theme to provide a platform to discuss the current environmental health challenges in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality, and that, the theme was in line with the global theme, ‘Our Planet, Our Health’. He noted that activities of humans, legal and illegal, have resulted in increased incidence of diseases, polluted environment, chronic diseases and increased death rate worldwide.
The speaker, Prof Agyeman Badu Akosa, a renowned Ghanaian pathologist, academic, and researcher in his lecture, said that environmental health challenges occur as a result of human interaction with nature and their communities. ‘In mining communities, dust from heavy trucks on untarred roads and chemical fumes cause respiratory health challenges such as fibrosis, silicosis, tuberculosis, lung cancer and asthma. Again, noise from machines and trucks, blasting and pounding activities of the mines affects the hearing of members of mining communities’, he said. He emphasised that most mining communities have bad roads, and underscored the need for the construction of good roads to reduce generation of dust into the environment.
Prof Akosa noted that water bodies such as Ankobra, Tano, Pra, Offin and Birim rivers have been polluted as a result of some irresponsible mining activities. “Washing of chemicals such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, copper, lead, manganese and cyanide by mining operators into water bodies affects the lives of humans, agriculture, livestock and other living things who depend on water for survival”, he stated.
Prof Akosa also bemoaned the use of illegal drugs such as Tramadol, marijuana, cocaine and excessive alcohol intake by some miners as stimulants to boost their energies to work for longer hours. These drugs, he said, when used over a long period of time cause mental problems, sexual weakness, cancer and nervous breakdown in users.
According to Prof Akosa, Ghana is losing agriculture to mining because most farm lands have been sold to mining companies to carry out mining activities. This has caused struggles amongst farmers and has affected the quality of farm produce. He therefore challenged students of the University to come up with innovative ideas to deal with the environmental challenges in Tarkwa.
Prof Akosa also cautioned women to be careful of the use of hair relaxers especially on children as these relaxers have the potential to develop fibroids in women. He stated that the increased rate of fibroids in young women could be as a result of frequent use of these hair relaxers.
Prof Anthony Simons thanked Prof Akosa for the knowledge shared, and also thanked Goldfield Ghana Limited for donating an ambulance to the University during the 2021 World Health Day observation.
The programme was attended by Staff of the University, Representatives of Ghana Prisons Service, Apinto Government Hospital, Students of Nursing and Midwifery Training College, and selected Basic and Senior High Schools in Tarkwa.
Source: University Relations Office