Outbreak Of A Pestilence In Avatime-Dzogbefeme, Ho-West District And The Silence Of The Health Authorities

Biting midgets have emerged in AvatimeDzogbefeme and its environs a few years ago at the time that the grassland at the fringes of the community has been replaced by forest vegetation. Following a favourable response to the nationalcampaign against bush burning, the annual practice of bush burning was stopped, and eventually the grassland which was the target of the annual bushfires disappeared. In the wake of this, a virulent plague emerged. Some microscopic flies which look like dust particles began to bite the people seriouslymainly in the morning to late afternoons and evenings. Sometimes, they bite throughout the day when the weather is cool or cold.


AvatimeDzogbefeme is a community in AvatimeTraditional Area in Ho West District with a population of about 3,000 inhabitants. It borders Nyagbo and Tafi to the South-West and Saviefe to the South. This mountain cradle community is in Vane Electoral Area. The famous Dzogbefeme Expedition Plateau which is patronized by the Ghana Army for field training purposes and by tourists is under threat by these bloodsucking insects.

The people are not only traumatized by the itchy skins and blisters the biting midgets inflict on them but the fear of the unknown. The people are scared of the long-term health implications of the insect bites.  As some people are speculating of blindness, others are claiming all kinds of illnesses! Currently, visitors especially have a very tough time coping with the itchy bites. School children are not finding it easy at all. Some of them refuse to come out of their bedrooms until the sun is up in the day when the biting subsides. Productivity is becoming low as the people cannot do a lot of things unless in hot weather.

Right now, another debate raging on is the presence of an evergreen tree. Some people have stated categorically that this vegetative tree which is the new delicacy for goats and sheep is the source of the vicious insects. Those with this revelation have proposed that these particular trees be destroyed completely and a ban be placed on their use for fencing.Others are of the view that there should be verifiable evidence that these trees are the scapegoat. The proponents of scientific approach are calling on the University of Health and Allied Sciences, UHAS, in Ho to take a leading role in uncovering the source and finding the best way to control this pestilence. They are equally placing an SOS message on the Volta Regional Health Directorate through the Ho-West District Chief Executive to show concern by helping the people to spray their surroundings as the longterm solutions are being sorted out.

The evergreen tree at the center of the controversy

This plague, we are told is spreading very fast into the neigbbouring communities. However, there has not been any consistent action by the Ministry of Health to intervene. Avatime Traditional Area, including Amedzofe and its South- Western neighbour, TafiAtome are tourists sites. Ho-west and Afadzato South Districts are likely to suffer revenue losses if the relevant authorities fail to control this menace.  

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