“Forgotten Territory” not for
humans? Doctors and foresters disagree
A GNA feature by Sepenyo Dzokoto
Ho, July 4 Ghanadot/GNA - It is so
near but so very far. The Kalakpa Resource Reserve, largely
within the Ho Municipal Area, is supposed to be excluded to
human settlement but yet it is populated by hordes of
That is where the Volta Region Division of the Ghana Medical
Association (GMA) decided to pitch camp on May 22 for
medical screening of residents.
The cluster of communities living in and on the periphery of
the forest, include Dzroawode, Agortive, Forsime, Wukpo,
Avetakpo and Folikope.
Under the banner of “Operation Forgotten Territories,” the
GMA resolved during its 50th anniversary last year to
venture into a hard-to-reach area every year to offer free
The first such programme was at Bomigo Island in the Keta
Lagoon, where Junior High School students go to school in
The team this year was made up of seven doctors, 15 nurses
of different categories and seven paramedics. The number of
people screened was around 600.
With the medics were a few journalists, none of whom had
ventured there before and so were overwhelmed by the range
of problems in the area.
The smoothest way of getting there is either by a tractor or
a motorbike. So leading the fleet were two motorbikes,
followed by a chartered Massey Fergusson tractor, with a
wooden trailer. Whining in tow were two four-wheel drive
In the trailers of the tractor and the pickups were medical
supplies and equipment, water, soft drinks and majority of
the men and women on the trip.
Everyone in there took some lashing from the protruding
branches of trees at the sides or hanging above as the
vehicles tore through the forest tracks, marked only by the
tyres of tractors.
The plan was for the communities to converge at any of the
two reception centres nearest them, Avetakpo or Dzroawode.
Dr Gafatsi Kofi Normanyo, GMA Volta Division Chairman, Dr
Winfred Ofosu, Treasurer, Dr John Eleeza, Ho District
Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Timothy Letsa,
Dr Moses Boni, Dr Kofi Oghenovo and Dr P.K.M. Kukah set up
consultation tables some for the aged, children, women and
There were also special tables for mother and child care.
Many pregnant women had not availed themselves of the free
health care at antennal clinics, and not even when they
delivered did they visit child care clinics, because of
Dr Normanyo, who had parried all attempts to nudge him into
commenting on the industrial action by doctors countrywide
to work to rule, which coincided with the time of the
exercise, would rather talk about the seriousness of the
Malaria, skin infections, distended bellies of kids from
malnutrition, worm infestation and a few hypertension cases
were the main diseases in the area.
All adults who visited the consultation tables had tetanus
jabs as security against injuries from their hard farm jobs
and charcoal production, which was visibly denuding the
The journey back was more strenuous. The hired tractor broke
down and could not make it back. Another was brought but it
also burst a front tyre less than a kilometer into the
journey. So members of the team were virtually packed into
the pick-ups for the return journey.
God saved the team from disaster when one member partially
fell off the trailer of the pickup he was hanging on, one
leg in, and one out, bouncing after the vehicle.
God forbid, he would have been split in between the thighs.
There were other anxious moments when tsetse flies dived
into the pickups to bite exposed calves.
Dr Normanyo’s cry in a chat with journalists on the trip was
for the place to be opened up to bring inhabitants nearer to
healthcare so that people there would not put women-in-labour
in home made hammocks for hours in search of help.
He said a woman in labour died there recently while being
carried on a home made stretcher across one of the many
brooks in the forest.
That brook was flooded and the carriers were neck deep when
the woman breathed her last.
“All these combined forces to undermine their humanity and
the country’s progress,” Dr Normanyo stated.
An immediate move by government to build access roads to the
forgotten territory was a doctor’s prescription.
But the Game and Wildlife Division of the Forestry
Commission disagrees. It says help could only get to them if
they parked out of the place reserved for animals and not
Mr George Asamoah, Park Manager of the Kalakpa Resource
Reserve, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the place had
been a protected area since 1975 when it was acquired by
But in the meantime, whilst they live there, they must be
helped and a way must be found to get healthcare to them
For now the clusters in the Kalakpa Resource Reserve remain
in the annals of the Volta Division of the GMA as a
“Forgotten Territory” that must be helped.