A statesman, Sir Sam Jonah, has called for the enforcement of laws to protect the environment against the effects of illegal mining activities in the country.
“What I am against is the manner in which the laws of the country are flouted with impunity to destroy water bodies and the environment for the many so that just a few people can make money.
“Like corruption, illegal mining is not about the lack of laws, but the will to enforce the laws,” he said.
Sir Sam, who is also the Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, said the laws governing small-scale mining were clear that no one should mine within a certain proximity of a water body.
“The law is very clear about how you dispose of your waste from your mining activities.
The law is very clear on activities in forest reserves.
The law is also very clear that foreigners cannot engage in small-scale mining.
“Why are those empowered to protect the people looking on, or away while these heinous activities destroying the very basis of life in our communities are going on?” he asked.
Sir Sam made the call at the annual general meeting and conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana in Takoradi, Western Region, on the theme: “Pharmacist for national development.”
Effects of galamsey
The chancellor further mentioned effects of illegal mining to include babies being born with two heads, broken spines and other birth defects.
“A healthy nation is a wealthy nation, but if the illegal mining phenomenon is affecting the health of the people to this extent, then we are headed for a moral and mortal crisis,” he said.
The statesman said that while he was not against small-scale mining, he was opposed to “destruction of health in an unwise plunder for greed and insanity”.
“The beauty and purity of flowing water have been destroyed.
Rivers Ankobra, Birim, Densu, Offin, Oti and others have all suffered similar fates.
“It is estimated that about 60 per cent of Ghana’s water bodies have been polluted by the activities of illegal miners,” he added.
The chancellor, therefore, urged professional bodies to stand up and show concern about the devastating consequences of illegal mining on the health of the people.
He said the scale and manner of destruction caused by illegal mining was the worst abuse of the human rights of residents of affected communities, adding that the “deafening silence” of professional bodies was unhelpful in the fight to stop “the worst onslaught on the public health of our nation”.
“Where is your outrage? Why the deafening silence from the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, the Ghana Medical Association, the Ghana Bar Association, the Ghana Journalists Association, and all the respected associations and professional bodies of the country,” the chancellor asked.
The President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, Dr Samuel Kow Donkoh, urged the Ministry of Health to ensure that adequate pharmacists were employed and posted across the country, especially to under-served areas.
“The shortage extends beyond pharmacy dispensaries and include clinical pharmacists who play a crucial role in patient care,” he said.
The president also called for the full implementation of the Pharmaceutical Sector Development Strategy (PSDS) to make the country the focal point in the production of medicines in West Africa.