CLEANLINESS, they say, is next to Godliness and a healthy mind is said to be in a healthy body.
THESE axioms reiterate the relevance of healthy living and observance of good environmental cleanliness to humans. Anyone who ignores cleanliness and healthy living does so at their own peril.
THE health budget of any country is one of the highest, most of the time running parallel to that of education. That alone shows how important the health of the citizens is important to any government, ensuring the establishment of efficient healthcare and other allied services.
THE place of health in national development must have accounted for the decision of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to have acclaimed in the 1990s and vigorously pursued a “Health for All by the year 2000” agenda.
UNFORTUNATELY, universal health was not achieved by the millennium, thus in September 2000, all the UN member states committed to adopt another agenda, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women. A clear health related thread run through all the eight Goals which had an attainment target by the year 2015. We missed some of the MDGs and now the replacement is Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 17 Goals dealing with development issues to be achieved by 2030.
BUT even decades before any of such declarations, local or international, our people had a good and clear understanding of what it meant to keep one’s home and communities clean. Those days, local authorities had dedicated inspectors who were commonly referred to as “Nsamansaman” or “Tankasi” and who went around communities charging and fining people who did not keep their environments clean.
DURING that era, keeping one’s self and environment clean were taught and practicalised right from our basic schools. During morning assemblies or parades, open inspections of pupils including inspections such as uniforms, hair, fingernails and teeth were done every morning before classes started. Those exercises were meant to ensure the turnout of all-round scholars who were disciplined enough to keep themselves and their environment clean.
IT was a habit then for people to sweep not only their homes but went also to the extent of sweeping their immediate environment, including the streets. It was common for Chiefs and their elders to call for regular communal labour where the youth in the community would assemble to weed and clean the township, burning all refuse and disposing of them to avoid outbreak of any disease.
GROWING population and urbanisation have made it extremely difficult for us to keep to those traditional norms and values. But we are not an island onto ourselves since in other jurisdictions, especially the so-called advanced societies, they have managed to keep their environment clean.
IN such societies, anybody who drops garbage on the streets is held with scorn and treated so contemptuously that that person feels exposed and out of place in society. Perhaps our general penchant for indiscipline is responsible for our present predicament of filthy surroundings, particularly in Accra and other cities in the country.
ATTEMPTS to improve the poor sanitary situation in the country will not be successful if people do not change their attitude to the environment. We have littered the environment, including our markets, streets and communities with all kinds of garbage, exposing our lives to all kinds of risks.
IT is for these reasons that Today is calling for a total behaviourial change from people from all walks of life in order to deal with the garbage menace that threatens our very existence on mother earth.