Increasing pressure on existing infrastructure at the Senior High School (SHS) level has left more than 1,600 students of the Bimbilla Senior High School in the Northern Region sharing a single toilet facility.
Two hundred and fifty girls tested positive for candidiasis out of 620 recently screened by rights campaign group, ActionAid. The students say the unsanitary conditions in the school are to blame.
Eighteen-year-old Nashiru Safiatu (not her real name) is the Girls’ Prefect for the school. She also tested positive for candidiasis – a vaginal infection which may cause genital itching, burning, and sometimes a white cheese-like fluid discharge from the vagina.
Extreme versions of it may even have implications for childbirth in the long term.
“Many of the girls are living with infections. Even me, I know I have white [candidiasis],” she said.
Many of the students, now scared of the consequences of going into the overstretched toilet facility, walk for up to 15 minutes to a bush outside the school to defecate in the open.
The students call the practice, which has now become a part of their daily routine, ‘Long Walk’.
“We call it Long Walk because you have to walk for a long distance before you get there,” said Suriya Atta, a 17-year-old student who was spotted returning from her ‘Long Walk’.
School authorities are afraid the situation may worsen with the next intake of fresh students in September.
“The toilet has just eight holes for boy and girls. Because of the pressure that is why the children resort to free range…We are hoping that we can get help either for NGOs or from the government,” said Vincent Esoah, the school’s Assistant Headmaster.
Established in 1981, the school, the only public Senior High School in the Nanumba North Municipality is yet to see any major investment in infrastructure apart from the few financed by the Parent Teacher Association (PTA).
The school’s population currently stands at 1,614.