Authorities of the Central Regional Hospital have disclosed, they are recording increasing cases of kidney infection from persons linked to illegal mining.
Hospital authorities believe many are suffering from the condition because of the chemicals they are exposed to, such as mercury.
Chief Executive of the Hospital Dr Daniel Asare says many are rushed from Tarkwa and other mining towns to the Hospital for kidney dialysis.
“It is pathetic…65 of them are on dialysis,” he said during a visit by Health Minister to the region Monday.
Mercury is commonly used in mining for gold attraction, especially among small and artisanal mining industry. But if not properly handled, the chemical can cause permanent kidney damage.
A large amount in the bloodstream may cause massive blood and fluid loss from diarrhea and kidney failure, leading to death.
But the Minerals Commission’s weak regulatory framework means it is easily procured by unlicensed miners.
The silvery-white substance was found on sale in at least 10 shops in Tarkwa, a report by ghanabusinessnews has revealed.
A report by Human Rights Watch testified to the unregulated use of the substance in mining areas in Ghana.
“I watched miners mix liquid mercury in pans filled with ore in order to attract the gold particles. They then held this gold-mercury amalgam over an open fire to burn off the mercury and retrieve the raw gold. Even children were working with mercury,” the report said.
“One of them, 12-year-old “Kwame,” told me: “I burn it on my own, where I get fire, at my mother’s house or any place.” Kwame carried a small bottle of mercury with him at all times. He and his fellow miners had never been told about its dangers”.
Chief Executive of the Hospital Dr Daniel Asare explained the financial problems associated with treating kidney infections and said the patients pay 190cedis per week for dialysis treatment.
“Any of us here would be poor if you are put on dialysis for the rest of your life. In the absence of kidney transplant, we have to sell everything you have.”
Ghana ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury in March 2017 which obliges governments to reduce mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining but that is only observed in breach.