Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Call on youth to lead decent lives (Page 31)

THE youth have been advised to identify role models to emulate so that they (the youth) will lead decent lives.
They have also been urged to be watchful of the persons whose lifestyles they copied in order not to be influenced negatively by their lifestyles.
The International Women’s Director of the Church of Pentecost (COP) International, Mrs Beatrice Kwaffo, gave the advice at the Mount Olivet Assembly of the church at Darkuman in Accra last Sunday to climax the one-week convention organised by the Youth Movement of the church.
Speaking on the topic, “Factors that Affect the Development of the Youth”, Mrs Kwaffo said the factors were both physical and social and went on to explain that the social factors included one’s religion, education, economic status, general upbringing, among others.
“These factors could bring about positive, as well as negative, attitudes in an individual,” she pointed out.
She called on the youth not to allow the pleasures of the world to force them to move away from God because He did not discriminate but did all things right in His own time.
She lamented the increase in anti-social vices which were affecting the lives of the youth and mentioned lesbianism, homosexuality, Internet fraud (sakawa) and occultism as having been learnt from the use of different forms of communication, as well as some tourists who visited the country.
She pointed out that in their adolescence, Christian youth, just like any normal human beings, were bound to go through both physical and emotional changes which, if not controlled, could force them to indulge in immoral behaviour.
The women’s director stated that anytime the youth were faced with such challenges, they should stand firm and keep in mind that every step they took would be acceptable to Christ whom they served.
Quoting from Romans 14: 17 and 18, Mrs Kwaffo urged the youth of today to “grow in the favour of the Lord of the living”, adding that because men of old such as Abraham, David, Job and Enoch grew in the favour in the Lord, they were blessed and lived fulfilled lives.

Caption: Mrs Beatrice Kwaffo, the International Women’s Director of the Church of Pentecost (COP) International.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Watching TV While We Work (Feature)

THESE days and times when the world is experiencing an economic downturn, many individuals, including those who hitherto did not take their businesses seriously, have changed their attitude in order to break even.
Like the ordinary Ghanaian would say, “times are hard” and for that reason all available resources are being harnessed to achieve maximum results if one is serious about surviving.
Governments and private individuals are cutting down cost and those who refuse to do that but choose to live extravagant lifestyles are either suspected of having some easy money elsewhere or might be oblivious of the global economic conditions.
Workers everywhere are being asked to put in their best if they want to keep their jobs with their respective organisations, and those who might find it difficult to follow such simple instructions, are sure to find themselves without jobs. In fact, we are in a period where laziness and laxity cannot be tolerated.
Is it therefore not strange that some workers in Ghana, especially those in the public sector, have not yet come to terms with this global situation and continue to do business as usual? I mean those who are fortunate enough to have the government as their direct employer. They are fortunate because they do not seem to have a problem with salaries since they continue to receive them month by month without necessarily justifying why they should be paid. Their situation is not like those in the private sector where one is paid based on performance — people get sacked when they are found to be “non-performing”.
Beside their well known attitude of taking things for granted at the workplace, a new trend seems to be taking precedence over all other activities at most public offices and that is the act of watching television (TV) during working hours!
TV is a widely used telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images, either black and white or other colours, usually accompanied by sound. It is important to state that since it involves pictures, television is mostly watched so it is difficult how one could watch pictures on a screen and at the same time do any paper work or work on a computer.
I had to write this article because about six months ago a senior official at one of the ministries in Accra told me that almost every office in his outfit had a TV set. That ministry is one of the biggest in the country, with more than 50 rooms.
For six months I have taken a look around and come to the conclusion that what the officer told me was nothing but the truth. Ghanaians have adopted the habit of watching TV at the time that they are expected to produce, an act they dare not try when they travel for greener pastures elsewhere.
Be they health facilities, financial institutions, accounts offices, secretariats, customer care centres, public relations units and what have you, one is likely to find workers abandoning their work to watch TV programmes.
During one of my rounds in Accra, I came across this young secretary in one of the ministries who had the effrontery to signal a senior colleague who had approached her for an information to remain silent as she listened to a statement being made on TV. It was not a news item she wanted to listen to but a statement being made by an actress in an African movie which she did not want to miss. I smiled to myself when the colleague flared up and quickly switched off the set.
One would understand if a few TV sets are placed in receptions, outpatient departments (OPDs) or similar locations where clients could watch as they await their turn, but not in an office where officials are supposed to concentrate on what they are paid to do.
Being a reporter, I often visit ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in Accra in search of information, and can therefore state for a fact that the issue of workers watching TV during working hours is becoming a major problem which needs to be checked.
In many offices television sets are placed in one corner or the other, not for visitors but for the comfort of staff. This is sometimes in addition to a radio set. Some even go to the extent of bringing in compact discs (CDs) from home to watch films on their computers.
Personnel in media houses and those who have the responsibility to monitor television stations for information can be excused but not an accounting staff who works with figures and needs to have full concentration to get things right. How can a secretary key in the right letters, and on time, when he or she has to stop at every minute to watch a scene on TV?
A set or two in a common room where staff could watch during break or on special occasions such as budget hearing and State of the Nation Address is appropriate but not the situation where every office has a set and workers instead of working spend time to watch and sometime argue over story lines of movies.
The question is: how do we produce enough in order to move this country forward if we continue to behave the way we do? How many of us would abandon our household chores or personal income generating activities to watch television?
Some would argue that those workers do not spend a whole period watching TV but if one may ask, why do they switch them on if they would not stop work to watch?
Another important aspect is that apart from the time spent in watching, there is the need for us to a take into consideration, the amount of energy in terms of electricity wasted while tens of televisions sets are switched on in all the MDAs throughout the country each working day.
We have reached a stage in our country where any little thing which could send us back should be checked. To some of us, the attitude where people who are engaged to produce specific goods and services decide to abandon their core duty and indulge in other activities should to be discouraged as we make efforts go move ahead. Watching TV at the time when we are supposed to work is one of the little things which many of us seem to ignore.

NHIS Staff Assured of Job Security (Page 19)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

STAFF of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) have been assured of job security provided they are competent and ready to perform.
Addressing a cross-section of the personnel in Accra, the acting Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Mr Sylvester Mensah, said employees of the authority were public servants who deserved to have job security and continuity of tenure.
“That is not to say that people should continue to be employed if they are incompetent and would not do satisfactory work,” he stressed.
Mr Mensah, who assumed leadership of the NHIA on June 15, 2009, said a number of visits he had so far made to some of the District Mutual Health Insurance Schemes (DMHISs) in parts of the country had revealed that, while some of the staff were doing excellent job, others did not have the requisite qualification to be placed at where they currently found themselves and, therefore, could not function effectively.
He pointed out that some of the schemes handled funds bigger than district assemblies, and asked why unqualified accountants should be allowed to take charge of such offices.
Mr Mensah said there was the need for re-structuring within the various schemes and went ahead to announce that Mr Elvis Amoako and Mr Paul Danklu, the Scheme Manager and the Accountant respectively of the Ga East DMHISs at Amasaman should step aside to enable a yet-to-be-formed three-member committee to investigate into their activities. The Greater Accra Regional Manager, Mr Gabriel Amoako, will, however, temporarily take charge of the operations in the Amasaman office.
The CEO said in spite of the shortcomings identified with some of the officials, some of them proved very competent and, therefore, deserved promotion.
In that direction, the Scheme Manager of the Dangbe East DMHIS, Mr Francis Lawson, has been transferred to the head quarters of the NHIA for performing creditably over the years.
Mr Mensah said service providers who inflated claims to the schemes would be dealt with and their names published.
He said such operations had caused leakage in the system, and complained about a situation where schemes spent between 20 and 30 per cent of the premium they collected on administrative expenses.
Concerning the one-time premium payment, he said the policy by the government on this issue was “non-negotiable”, and explained that an initial work done by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and actuarial division of the NHIA indicated that it was feasible.

NADMO presents relief items to families (Page 18)

Saturday July 25, 2009

THE National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) has presented relief items to six families who lost their property through a fire outbreak in a house at Kuku Hill, Osu.
The items, valued at GH¢2,750, included assorted clothing, mattresses, blankets, rice, cooking oil, as well as plastic plates and cups.
Presenting the items, the Chief Disaster Officer at the NADMO headquarters in Accra, Mr Katey Dorgbey, said the items were meant to relieve the victims of some of the difficulties they were going through because of the disaster.
He said although the government could not help them put up a new building, it had the responsibility to ensure that the occupants were supported in a way.
He took the opportunity to advise Ghanaians to be wary of activities which brought about fires and other disasters, adding that it was unfortunate for people to lose all that they had worked for throughout their lives because of fire or floods.
Present at the short ceremony was the Public Relations Officer of NADMO, Major (retd) Nicholas Mensah.
Receiving the items, an 80-year-old landlady, Madam Margaret Ahunu Tetteh, expressed the gratitude of the beneficiaries to the government for the kind gesture.
She gave the assurance that the relief items would be shared equitably among the victims who had suffered so much pain.
The cause of the fire, which occurred in the evening of June 10, 2009, is not yet known but occupants believed it might have been caused by either an electrical fault or an explosion from a domestic gas cylinder.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Starwin to produce anti-malarial drug (page 20)

Starwin Products Limited, a pharmaceutical company in Accra, is in the process of registering with the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) to produce an anti-malaria drug as well as a drug for the treatment of diabetes.
The Chairman of the Board of Director of the company, Pastor Dr Mensa Otabil said the company had assembled enough raw and packaging materials to aggressively produce and market these products this year.
Addressing the fifth Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Starwin Products Limited in Accra yesterday, Pastor Otabil said to increase production, the company had started its syrup line operation and already introduced Paraking Syrup for babies.
He said the company had also re-introduced the Starwin Liversalt onto the Ghanaian market.
Present at the meeting were Mr Kwasi Yirenkyi, Managing Director (MD) of the company , Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, Mr Michael Addo, Dr Esther Ofei-Aboagye, Dr Albert Gyan Boohene, all directors and also Mr Mark Addo Otibo, Corporate Secretary.
Pastor Otabil said that the company had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Mampong Centre for Medical Research into Plant Medicine to convert some of the centres products into tablets and capsules for commercial purposes before the end of next year.
The Board Chairman said the MoU which was signed on June 30, this year was one of the measures the company was taking to increase its turnover and profits to enable it improve returns to shareholders.
Pastor Otabil explained that like many manufacturing companies, Starwin Products Limited had been negatively affected by the global economic downtown but gave the assurance that “we are confident of measures put in by management and its commitment to return the company to profitability by the end of 2009 and thereby rebuild shareholder value”.
In an interview, the Mr Yirenkyi who is the MD said the company was in the process of getting the needed machinery as well as the needed documentation in place to begin work with the Mampong Centre for Medical Research into Plant Medicine.
He stated that within the next two years, the company was likely to witness major changes which could increase its production.
An auditor’s report presented at the meeting indicated that the company had internal control system for identifying, managing and monitoring risks. It also explained that those controls were intended to provide reasonable assurance that the risks facing the company were being controlled.
In her contribution, a shareholder, Mrs Eunice Ametor-Williams suggested that invitation letters for meetings should be sent early enough to enable many shareholders attend such meetings.
She also said there was the need for the shareholders to be educated on shareholding since many got discouraged when they attend meetings and dividends were not discussed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Petroleum Authority denies creating new account

THE National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has denied that it has created a new account where gains made from the sale of petroleum products are kept for unknown purposes.
The authority also stated that it had not indirectly introduced any new taxes or levies, as was being alleged by a section of the public.
Reacting to a statement allegedly made by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Adansi Asokwa, Mr K.T. Hammond, on Wednesday, July 15, 2009, the acting Chief Executive Officer of the NPA, Mr Alex Mould, stated that the mechanism to save some money accruing from what he described as ex-refinery differentials was introduced in 2006.
He said there was the need for that account to be set up to take care of any under-recovery resulting from subsidies on products such as kerosene, premix fuel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
He further explained that unlike premium, which always attracted relatively higher prices, kerosene, premix fuel and LPG were subsidised.
Mr Mould said it was unfortunate for Mr Hammond, who was a Deputy Minister for Energy at the time the mechanism was created, to question its existence now, adding, “If there was the need for the creation of the account to go to Parliament, then it should have been done in 2006.”
Supporting his statement with a letter dated November 1, 2008 and signed by the then Chief Executive Officer of the NPA, Mr John Attafuah, which directed the oil marketing companies (OMCs) to pay into the said account, Mr Mould said the current board only followed what it came to meet.
“We at the NPA have not done anything fraudulent to warrant the allegation made by Mr Hammond in Parliament,” he stressed.
In an answer to a question, the CEO said the NPA had not made any changes to the formula, neither had it changed the bank accounts which, he said, were at the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) which no individual could have access to.
He said the existence of those accounts was known to all stakeholders in the petroleum industry and that they were being used to harmonise shortfalls due to the fact that some of the products were being subsided.
Mr Mould gave the assurance that the NPA would go by its mandate, as stipulated in Act 691, adding, “We have the responsibility to satisfy both the consumers and the importers of petroleum products in the country.”

Friday, July 17, 2009

US gov't clarifies pledge to fight diseases in Africa (Page 14)

THE $63 billion pledge made before Ghana’s Parliament by US President Barack Obama on July 11 to help fight diseases in Africa and elsewhere is for a period of six years.
The US government is yet to come out with the number of countries to benefit and how much each country would receive from the funding under its Global Health Initiative which is between 2009 and 2014.
A White House statement made available to the Daily Graphic by the US Information and Resource Centre (IRC) in Accra indicated that the US, in its budget read earlier, invested “$63 billion cumulatively over six years for global health programmes”.
In a “Statement by the President on Global Health Initiative”, and issued by the Office of the Press Secretary at the White House on May 5, 2009, President Obama was reported to have expressed the hope that best practices would drive the funding for these programmes.
“But I also recognise that we will not be successful in our efforts to end deaths from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis unless we do more to improve health systems around the world, focus our efforts on child and maternal health and ensure that best practices drive the funding for these programmes,” he pointed out.
In the course of his address during his visit to Ghana, President Obama gave the assurance that the US would pursue the goal of ending deaths from malaria and tuberculosis and also eradicate polio on the “African continent and elsewhere”.
“America will support these efforts through a global health strategy because in the 21st century we are called to act by our conscience but also by our common interest because when a child dies of a preventable disease in Accra that diminishes us everywhere,” he said.
In the statement from the White House, the US President pointed out that the comprehensive global health approach could yield significant returns by investing in efforts to prevent millions of new HIV infections, reduce mortality of mothers and children under five, saving millions of lives, avert millions of unintended pregnancies and eliminate some neglected tropical diseases.
The statement pointed out that the desire of the US government to help the rest of the world to fight diseases stemmed from the fact that “in the 21st century disease flows freely across borders and oceans and, in recent days, the 2009 H1N1 virus has reminded us of the urgent need for action”.
It pointed out that that US had to help others, since it could not wall itself off from the world and hope for the best nor ignore the public health challenges beyond its borders.
“An outbreak in Indonesia can reach Indiana within days and public health crises abroad can cause widespread suffering, conflict and economic contraction. We cannot simply confront individual preventable illnesses in isolation. The world is interconnected and that demands an integrated approach to global health,” it pointed out.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

College of Physicians to train eight Emergency Specialists (Page 15)

THE Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS) will begin training eight doctors as specialist emergency physicians to provide standard care for people in emergency situations.
The issue has become critical because as of now the country has no specialist emergency physician to provide standard care for people in emergency situations.
This means that accident and emergency centres, including the latest one installed at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, have no such specialist purposely trained to manage them.
This came out when the Daily Graphic spoke to the Rector of the GCPS, Professor Paul Kwame Nyame, in Accra on plans by the college to train specialist emergency physicians locally to offer quality health care to Ghanaians.
Prof Nyame announced that a number of trainers from the University of Michigan at Ann Abbor and the University of New York, both in the US, as well as two Ghanaians who were working abroad, would take the doctors through the training and pointed out that facilities at the Accident and Emergency Centre at KATH would be used for the training.
He also added that there were some local medical professionals who were ready to support the team to organise the training programme successfully.
The rector said the doctors had already been interviewed and were waiting to begin lectures, adding that they would use three years for the first part of the programme and an additional two years for further training in specific areas in medicine.
The doctors, six males and two females, are from KATH, the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH). They are between the ages of 29 and 35.
Prof Nyame explained that there was the need for specialist emergency physicians in the country’s hospitals, since different health problems presented similar symptoms for which physicians with the requisite training could easily provide accurate diagnosis.
He said to save lives, emergency situations needed urgent stabilisation which needed specialist attention. These included serious accidents which involved broken bones, appendicitis, liver and kidney failure, complicated child delivery and cardiac arrest.
The Rector said it was always better for a specialist emergency physician to examine a patient in such conditions before he or she was handled by other doctors.
The GCPS was established by an Act of Ghana's Parliament (Act 635 of 2003) with specific objectives to promote specialist education in medicine, surgery and related disciplines, promote continuous professional development in medicine, surgery and related disciplines, promote and co-ordinate education and research in medicine, surgery and related disciplines, contribute to the formulation of policies on sound health and public health generally.
In pursuance of these objectives, the college is required to: Organise and supervise specialist training, continuous professional development and support research in medicine, surgery and related disciplines; organise and conduct specialist examinations in medicine, surgery and related disciplines; prepare and publish journals and pamphlets on its own or in collaboration with other bodies or organisations; award diplomas, certificates and other professional distinctions; foster co-operation with other institutions with similar objectives and initiate and participate in activities and discussions aimed at sound health and the formulation of public policies on health.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Should Robbers Be Killed ? (Spread)

THE killing of eight suspected armed robbers in Kumasi yesterday following a shoot-out with the police has attracted varied responses from the general public and rekindled the debate on what constitutes effective deterrence to violent crime in the country.
While some members of the public applauded the police for the courageous manner in which they dealt with the situation and suggested that the officers involved should be rewarded, two security experts are not excited by the approach of the police and have called for maximum circumspection on their part in undertaking such operations.
Five out of eight people who were randomly selected in Accra for their views on the issue were in favour of applying capital punishment on armed robbers.
Six of the interviewees told the Daily Graphic that they had been victims of armed robbery in their homes, vehicles or in the open, usually at night.
Forty-four-year old Ms Abena Nyarko, who said she was robbed of her bag and personal belongings at gunpoint about a week ago at Abeka Free Pipe, said, “Robbers are killers and must be killed.”
She said she was nearly killed when a driver whose taxi she had boarded pleaded with her to allow a supposed friend to join the taxi.
She said the two pulled out guns on the way, took away her bag containing money and a mobile phone and pushed her out of the moving vehicle.
A former employee of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Mr Nathan Amartey, said, “Anybody who steals and goes on to kill deserves to be killed.”
Mr Amartey, who said his wife was wounded during a robbery attack in Dansoman some few months ago, said if the law continued to protect such criminals, the citizens would have no other option but take the law into their own hands and lynch such people.
Mr Albert Sackey, a 52-year-old security man, prescribed life imprisonment for armed robbers to prevent them from coming out to continue with their callous behaviour.
He, however, called on the courts to be swift with their judgement in armed robbery cases and added that investigations into such cases should be deep to expose other gang members.
An Assistant Public Relations Officer, Ms Margaret Okine, lamented over the incidence of too many robbery cases in the country and called for speedy trials and the imposition of the death sentence on those who indulged in the act.
“Why should the law protect them, since they sometimes kill people after they have stolen from them? They are not humans and do not deserve to live,” she stated.
An employee of a private security company, Ms Rita Asare, said it was wrong “for people who only come to steal and kill” to be allowed to enjoy life.
A middle-aged man who wanted to remain anonymous said all his woes were due to the activities of armed robbers who attacked him about four years ago and took away GH¢600 he was using for his business.
He said he developed goose pimples anytime he heard of armed robbers and stressed that anybody found robbing another person with weapons did not deserve to live.
Mr P.K. Nyame, who said he once had an experience with gun-wielding robbers at a distribution point of Guinness Ghana Limited in Accra, said such criminals should be put behind bars for life.
Two young female friends called for life imprisonment in hard labour for convicted armed robbers.
While one said she was attacked and nearly robbed at the entrance of her gate, the other said her sister was attacked at a traffic intersection with a sharp knife and robbed.
The criminologist and human rights lawyer, Prof Ken Attafuah, and the Head of the Conflict Management, Prevention and Resolution Department of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Dr Kwesi Anning, said shooting, in circumstances such as the one in which the Kumasi police found themselves, should be applied as a last resort.
They also disagreed with the imposition of the death penalty on convicted armed robbers because that form of punishment was not absolute in deterrence.
According to Prof Attafuah, those who held the deadly force of state had a greater responsibility to be circumspect.
He said without condemning the police for their action, it had to be made clear that the first duty of the police was to protect property and lives, including the lives of suspected criminals and aggressors.
He said in the course of discharging that responsibility, the police were at liberty to use reasonable force determined in terms of proportionality, adding that the force applied by the police ought to be proportional to the threat encountered.
“If someone shoots at you with a pistol and you use an AK47 rifle to riddle him, you have not acted proportionately,” he contended.
Prof Attafuah said the rules of engagement in a face-to-face combat imposed a responsibility on a combatant to shoot to kill only if his or her life was threatened.
He said it was for that reason that the police were trained to shoot to maim, instead of kill.
He cited the Taifa and Dansoman shooting incidents in which the police came under severe public criticism for shooting and killing innocent individuals they mistook for criminals.
He said the police ought to understand that they were subject to the principle of accountability for any person they killed.
Commenting on the application of the death penalty, Prof Attafuah said that form of punishment was not the solution to violent crime, adding that its deterrent effect was more imaginary than real.
He said there were clear indications that in countries such as Canada where the death penalty had been abolished, the rate of violent crime was low, whereas in countries such as Nigeria and South Africa where the death penalty was applied, the rate of violent crime was still high.
Commenting on the killing of the suspected armed robbers in Kumasi, Dr Anning said once a person attacked a police officer unlawfully, the officer had the right to defend himself.
He, however, said in circumstances where the police shot and killed suspected armed robbers, even when they (robbers) had laid down their arms, the police could not be justified in their action.
Dr Anning said where suspected armed robbers were fleeing police encounter, it was more appropriate for the police to aim at the legs of the suspects and shoot to maim, rather than kill, because the latter option was against the rules of war.
He expressed concern over the attempt to link the suspected armed robbers to a particular ethnic group, saying, “That is playing up to ethnic sentiments which are already high in the country.”
“This is a dangerous anthropological argument,” he added, explaining that it was the argument akin to the philosophy of anthropologists who looked at the colour of a person’s skin to conclude that whites were more intelligent than blacks.
Dr Anning said linking crime with ethnicity had the tendency of making the police lose sight of other criminals who might be lurking around.
“Criminals are criminals and they must be dealt with as such, not by ethnic considerations,” he insisted.
Otherwise, he added, an innocent person could be mistaken for a criminal and shot based on his ethnicity.
On the death penalty, Dr Anning said he did not believe in that form of punishment because it was possible for convicts to reform and so it was not right to kill such persons.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Independent Judiciary, panacea to corruption (Spread)

A ROBUST and independent judiciary of impeccable integrity has been identified as Africa’s answer to corruption and other economic crimes.
To help win the fight against such crimes, judges have been advised to appreciate the magnitude of the prevalent criminal activities to enable them to approach their duties with renewed passion, integrity and commitment.
The advice was given by Ghana’s Chief Justice, Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, at the opening of a five-day seminar on Economic and Financial Crimes for Judges from English-speaking countries in West Africa.
The seminar is the second of its kind for judges of ECOWAS member states and was organised by the Inter-governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).
It was chaired by the Senior Circuit Judge of Royal Courts in the United Kingdom, His Honour Judge David Mackie.
Forty-five participants attended the seminar, which was on theme: “The Role of the Judiciary in Combating Corruption, Financial and Economic Crimes”.
Delivering the keynote address, Justice Wood said corruption undermined judicial systems around the world, denying citizens their basic human rights and access to impartial trial and qualitative justice that was timely and fair, adding that “in worst case scenarios, some are denied trial”.
Touching on money laundering, the Chief Justice described it as a huge global challenge which had made all countries vulnerable.
She pointed out that money laundering allowed all sorts of criminals, including drug traffickers, terrorists, illegal arms dealers, fraudsters, tax evaders, corrupt bureaucrats, political figures and public office holders to transfer the proceeds of their crimes without being detected.
“We must work out the strategies to curtail this canker which has the potential of damaging our financial institutions and hampering foreign investment,” she stressed.
For her part, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu, said to fight corruption, Ghana had prepared an anti-corruption manual which provided comparative analysis of the anti-corruption laws in Ghana with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and urged others to emulate.
The manual, according to the minister, provided Ghana with analysis of the two international institutions that helped plug loopholes in the legal framework, as well as provided easy access in one place to all the legislative provisions in the statute book on corruption.
She described money laundering as an act to conceal or disguise the identity of illegally obtained proceeds so that the proceeds appeared to have originated from legitimate sources. “It involves ill-gotten gains,” he added.
She reiterated that the activity undermined the legitimate private sector, caused loss of control of economic policies and capital flight, as well as loss to government revenue and economic distortion.
“It affects the national reputation, corrupts the financial system and undermines social values. Money laundering demonstrates that crime pays. It also promotes corruption and leads to an increase in crime generally”.
In his opening remarks, the Director-General of GIABA, Dr Abdullahi Shehu, called for an efficient and effective judicial process to avoid the effects of lose of confidence in the judiciary by the general public.
Making use of the axiom “justice delayed is justice denied”, Dr Shehu said “in some of the cases decided in the courts in our region which have taken several years to conclude, I have seen that although justice is done, but justice is delayed, leading the average man on the streets to wonder if our judicial process is really effective”.
Stressing on the changing nature of financial and economic crime, he said as the international initiatives were being developed to deal with the problems associated with crime so were the criminals adapting to new methods.
He also said as such the money laundering methods and techniques had changed in response to the counter measures developed at a national and international level and that it was in that regard that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body responsible for setting international standards against money laundering, had fundamentally revised the 40 recommendations that were developed in 1990.

Donations for families of flood victims

THE government has presented cash and food items to the families of the seven persons who lost their lives in the June 19, 2009 flood disaster which occurred in Accra.
Each of the seven families received GH¢500, 10 mini bags of rice and five cartons of cooking oil from the Minister of the Interior, Mr Cletus Avoka, in Accra yesterday.
The deceased, who are yet to be buried, include Pastor Isaac Oppong-Kusi, 36; Lian Fenyi, 4; Mary Essiam, 67; Sharatu Ibrahim, 21; Brenya Yarley, 30; Victor Amukwei Tetteh, 80, and Paul Agbemuyebor, a 28-year-old Togolese national.
Presenting the items, Mr Avoka said the donation was not a compensation but rather “a token” from the Government and people of Ghana to help in the burial and funeral of the deceased.
He said 90 per cent of floods which occurred in the country were due to human activities, adding that “this ceremony would not have come on if some people had not built on [watercourses], dumped rubbish into drains and erected kiosks everywhere”.
He took the opportunity to advise Ghanaians to change their attitude to save the country from such disasters.
A daughter of one of the deceased, Madam Sylvia Akushie Tetteh, who spoke on behalf of the other family members, expressed gratitude to the government for the kind gesture.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Reach out to flood victims — Portuphy (Page 35)

THE National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) has described the current flood situation in Accra and other parts of the country as a national crisis that calls for all Ghanaians to reach out to the victims.
The National Co-ordinator of the organisation, Mr Kofi Portuphy, told the Daily Graphic at the headquarters of NADMO in Accra that the flood situation was getting out of hand by the day.
He said since not all the victims played any role in getting their places of abode flooded, there was the need for the rest of the population to support them.
The NADMO co-ordinator also took the opportunity to appeal to organisations to assist the victims in all possible ways.
This came in the wake of frequent downpour, which began on June 19, 2009, in the western part of Accra, which caused seven deaths and caused damage to property worth millions of Ghana cedis.
Since then, Accra and other parts of country, including Kumasi, Tema, Sekondi-Takoradi, Keta, Ada and Damongo continued to experience heavy floods.
Mr Portuphy said NADMO was overwhelmed by the level of damage the rain had caused, adding that with more rains expected, it was important that stringent measures were taken to reduce the effects.
A summary of data on the flood which occurred in the western part of Accra on June 19, 2009 showed that about 6,969 people within 363 households were affected in three sub-metropolitan areas.
He said the situation had forced the organisation to concentrate more on rescue operations to the detriment of distribution of relief items, since they had a limited number of personnel.
He cited incidences when officials on their way to distribute items had to abandon the exercise and rush to rescue people trapped in flooded houses or collapsed buildings with the support of personnel from the 48 Engineers Regiment of the Ghana Armed Forces.
To help solve the problem in Accra, the government is reported to have released GH¢2.5 million to cover the construction, expansion and extension of drains, as well as clearing of silt from both major and minor drains to allow the free flow of water when it rains.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Third Time Lucky (page 44)

THE relationship between Ghana and the United States (US) has generally been friendly since Ghana's independence in 1957, except for a period of strained relations during the latter years of the Nkrumah regime. Records show that Ghana was the first country into which US Peace Corps volunteers were sent when it was established in 1961 under President John .F. Kennedy.
The two countries are signatories to about 20 agreements and treaties covering areas such as agricultural commodities, aviation, defence, economic and technical cooperation, education, extradition, postal matters, telecommunications, and treaty obligations.
The relationship spanned from the period when Ghana achieved nationhood and it seems to improve further from 1992 when Ghanaians decided to once again, follow the path of democracy which is also the system of government of the US.
That explains why in 1998 when the US President Bill Clinton (a former president to the US continue to be called president) and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton decided to make a six-nation tour of Africa, they chose Ghana as the “Gateway”.
Described as the most extensive visit to Africa ever done by a sitting US president, it was historical that President Clinton made Ghana his first stop.
To which Ghanaians happily accepted as the “Gateway to Africa, President Clinton was greeted by a crowd of hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic people.
Together with his wife, Hillary, President Clinton saw the best of Ghanaian hospitality.
Making Ghana the first stop of President Clinton's African tour was seen in some quarters as a reward for the Rawlings government's political and economic reform policies. The visit at that time was seen as United States attempt to promote good governance in Africa in return for increased trade and investment.
To achieve that objective of promoting economic development, human rights and democracy in Africa, Mr Clinton took the opportunity to visit six African nations which were Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana, and Senegal in 11 days.
That visit was the first to be made by an American president to Africa in nearly 20 years.
Mr Clinton chose to visit countries that represented a "new" Africa - one of relative political stability and economic growth, and was, therefore, not surprising that he came to Ghana.
Before he undertook the trip, President Clinton spoke of "African Renaissance," and repeatedly stated that the US wanted to be a great part of Africa's integration into the global economy.
The US, under President Clinton expressed the hope to achieve that objective primarily through its policy of "trade not aid," and it was during his era that the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) was introduced.
The then President of Ghana Flt Lt. Jerry John Rawlings and his wife Nana Konadu Agyeman, members of the diplomatic corps, ministers and government officials welcomed him at the Kotoka International Airport.
The two Presidents addressed a press conference on many issues offering the American President the forum to talk about his administration policy for Africa.
At 12.30 pm President Rawlings accompanied the US President to visit Technoserve, an American NGO based in Accra while, Nana Konadu and Mrs Hillary Clinton paid a visit to the 31st December Day Care Centre also in Accra.
The event that highlighted the visit of Mr Bill Clinton was the durbar of chiefs and people of Ghana at the Independence Square in Accra. The arrival of the two presidents to the durbar was heralded by traditional music and dance performances.
The immediate successor of President Bill Clinton; President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush also visited Ghana from February 19 - 21, 2008.
During that historic three-day visit, President Bush and senior members of his staff, including Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, met with Ghana’s President, Mr J. A Kufuor at the Osu Castle. They held a press briefing in the Castle Gardens and later in the day, met with U.S. Embassy staff and also had lunch with some Peace Corps Volunteers.
As part of the visit, President Bush attended a special trade fair in Accra which was organised in his honour. He also set the first ball at a tee-ball game at the Ghana International School (GIS)
In the evening of the first day, President bush attended a State Banquet hosted by President Kufuor and his wife Theresa as well as some top government officials.
On his part, the First Lady, Laura Bush inspected projects funded under the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) in parts of Accra as well as projects under the African Education Initiative.
To climax his visit, President Bush made a pledge for $17 million to combat Malaria in Ghana and a pledge of $350 million to combat neglected tropical diseases in the region.
As it is common with Ghanaians, the people welcomed the first family from the US to the land of gold. Every step he made was reported in the local media and even weeks after they had left, newspapers continued to publish pictures of President Bush pounding sheanuts at the mini trade fair organised in his honour.
During his journey back to the United States aboard Air Force One, President Bush was reported to have told the travelling press: "I would say this is one of the most exciting trips of my presidency. Exciting because when we first got to Washington, Africa was -- parts of Africa were in turmoil, not much had been to arrest disease, there wasn't intense world focus on the continent -- the second trip to Africa for me, the fifth for Laura -- was a chance to herald courageous people in their efforts to deal with hopelessness. And what really made me happy was that the people of Africa have come to appreciate the generosity of the American people."

Style and colour awaits him (page 17)

LIKE the two previous visits by US Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in 1998 and 2008 respectively, the pending visit of the current President Barack Hussien Obama is generating great excitement among Ghanaians.
What has helped to make the historic visit more significant is the fact that Ghana, a small country of about 23 million people, which covers an area of about 238,538 sq. km. (92,100 sq. mi.); has been chosen over and above other African countries who consider themselves more powerful in terms of population and geographical size.
With Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $15.2 billion (2007): Real GDP growth rate at 6.3 per cent (2007) and Per capita GDP of $690 (2007), Ghanaians cannot boast of being rich. But who says it is only wealth and population size that matter when it comes to international relations?
President Obama is coming to Ghana with his wife, Michelle and Ghanaians will welcome them in grand style. In fact there are signs to that effect.
In a June 22 interview with America.gov, Aaron H. Sherinian, a senior official with the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), who returned to the US from Ghana, said messages such as “President Barack Obama Welcome Home,” or “You Are Welcome in Ghana” can be spotted throughout the country, adding “ African cloth printed with Obama’s image and sporting a welcome greeting in the local languages is also available in local markets.”
When US President Barrack Obama lands in Ghana on Friday, July 10, it would be the third time in 11 years that a sitting American President is visiting the country, and like his predecessors, Obama is coming on board “Air Force One”.
Information provided on the US government website (www.state.gov) stated that no matter where in the world the President travels, if he flies in an Air Force jet, the plane is called Air Force One.
Technically, Air Force One is the call sign of any Air Force aircraft carrying the President. In practice, however, Air Force One is used to refer to one of two highly customised Boeing 747-200B series aircraft, which carry the tail codes 28000 and 29000.
The Air Force designation for the aircraft is VC-25A.
Air Force One is one of the most recognisable symbols of the presidency, spawning countless references not just in American culture but across the world. Emblazoned with the words “United States of America,” the American flag, and the Seal of the President of the United States, it is an undeniable presence wherever it flies or docks.
Capable of refuelling midair, Air Force One has unlimited range and can carry the President wherever he needs to travel. The onboard electronics are hardened to protect against an electromagnetic pulse, and Air Force One is equipped with advanced secure communications equipment, allowing the aircraft to function as a mobile command centre in the event of an attack on the United States.
Inside, the President and his travelling companions enjoy 4,000 square feet of floor space on three levels, including an extensive suite for the President that features a large office, lavatory, and conference room. Air Force One includes a medical suite that can function as an operating room, and a doctor is permanently on board. The plane’s two-food preparation galleys can feed 100 people at a time.
Air Force One also has quarters for those who accompany the President, including senior advisors, Secret Service officers, press, and other guests. Several cargo planes typically fly ahead of Air Force One to provide the President with services needed in remote locations.
Air Force One is maintained and operated by the Presidential Airlift Group, part of the White House Military Office. The Airlift Group was founded in 1944 as the Presidential Pilot Office under the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. For the next 20 years, various propeller-driven aircraft served the President.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy became the first President to fly in his own jet aircraft, a modified Boeing 707.
Over the years, several other jet aircraft are reported to have been used, with the first of the current aircraft being delivered in 1990 during the administration of President George H. W. Bush.
So God willing, the First Family of the US would visit Ghana, the land of gold and beautiful people and of course, in an Air Force One jet. We can’t wait to welcome it.

Move to get houses numbered (page 3)

July 8, 2009

A programme to improve on the country’s residential address system is to begin on Thursday, with the aim of updating the country’s data on housing and boost revenue collection.
The plan, to be rolled out by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, will also facilitate better planning and the execution of development programmes.
The Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the exercise would have all houses in the country properly numbered.
He said unlike elsewhere, the residential address system in Ghana was so haphazardly done that it was almost impossible for any one to give accurate direction to visitors.
At a meeting to be held in Accra on Thursday to get the programme on course, the experts will design plans for easy identification of individual houses for the payment of appropriate taxes from property owners.
The Deputy Minister said the ministry would consider proposals on the issue, as well as improve on earlier initiatives such as the numbering system introduced within the Ayawaso Sub Metro Assembly under the Urban Management Land Information System and similar ones in other parts of the country.
He said stakeholders to attend the meeting include the Town and Country Planning, Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly, Tema Municipal Assembly, Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly and other agencies.
Mr Afriyie said the meeting would offer the opportunity to the various stakeholders to share ideas and learn from one other to get the job done.
The deputy minister explained that as a developing country, there was the need for Ghana to learn from countries that had advanced in the area of development for the benefit of her citizens.
House numbering in Ghana create problems for both locals and visitors because they usually find it extremely difficult to locate their destination.
Unlike in some countries where people use codes and street names to locate their destination, visitors in Ghana have to go through hard times.
Whiles some houses, especially those in new settlements in the cities and towns, are not numbered, others that are numbered do not follow any order.

More investors show interest in housing sector

July 8, 2008
THE government has received good signals from a number of investors to help in putting up houses for low, middle and high income groups.
In addition, the government would also look at the area of providing accommodation for some identified vulnerable persons using local materials and workforce from the communities.
The Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Dr Hanna Louisa Bisiw told the Daily Graphic in Accra that the affordable housing project initiated by the previous administration would also be continued till all the houses which were currently at different levels of completion were finished, in order to reduce the country’s housing deficit.
She pointed out that the government’s decision to use local materials and personnel was to have the job done at a lesser cost, as well as create jobs for the people.
She stressed that contractors who would get the opportunity to work on the project would be expected to do a good job and also finish on time, adding that none would have the chance of collecting money but fail to do the work as had been the case in the past.
Dr Bisiw said apart from putting up new structures, the government would also provide loans for individuals whose houses were in bad condition to repair them.
She complained about the situation where Ghanaians refused to use local materials that were cheaper and conducive to the Ghanaian environment but rather preferred to go in for foreign ones, which were expensive.
Statistics from the Ministry of Works, Housing and Water Resources indicate that there is insufficient housing stock to meet the ever-increasing demand for housing in the country, especially in the urban areas.
Recent estimates indicate that there is a shortage of 400,000 units of houses nationwide.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Govt to Tackle Accra Floods-GH¢2.5m injected into the project (Front Page)

A MASSIVE construction work is to begin this month to overhaul the entire drainage system in Accra, as a way of dealing with the perennial flooding in the national capital “once and for all”.
Towards that project, the government has released GH¢2.5 million to cover the construction, expansion and extension of drains, as well as clearing silt from both major and minor drains to allow the free flow of water when it rains.
In addition, all structures that are on watercourses will be demolished and owners of those that were put up illegally, will be investigated and prosecuted.
This was made known to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday by the Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Dr Hannah Louisa Bisiw, who explained that “this is an attempt to solve the flood problem once and for all”.
She stated that the funds for the project were made available to the ministry last week and expressed the hope that after the work had been completed, Accra would be free from floods.
Dr Bisiw said since the rains had made many of the affected parts too soft for heavy equipment to move in without getting stuck, work would begin at areas that were not too soft and later continue at other parts.
She pointed out that the government was aware that apart from Accra, other parts of the country also experienced flooding, and added that the ministry was collaborating with the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to ensure that every part of the country was free from flood.
In an answer as to whether the government would have the political will to demolish houses built on watercourses, Dr Bisiw said “the time has come for the people of Ghana to face the reality and refuse to allow a few individuals to take the rest of us for granted”.
On officials who gave building permits to individuals to build on watercourses and other unauthorised places, the deputy minister said those people would be dealt with at the appropriate time.
“The government is currently focussing all its attention on how best to solve the problem and when the problem is solved to some extent, those government officials will be dealt with according to the laws of the land,” she hinted.
Dr Bisiw said an inter-sectoral team that included the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) had accessed the situation and the damage caused by the rains, and their observation was that much of the problem was man-made.
She touched on illegal structures that were springing up on daily basis and also the attitude of some residents who continually threw garbage into drains, saying that they were partly to blame.
Dr Bisiw said there was the need for continuous education to let the people understand why they should not build on watercourses and also not dump refuse into drains. Those whose houses were on watercourses, she advised, should better move out because they would not be spared this time round.
“If we had done the right thing and prevented this situation, the government could have used that huge amount of money for some other project to benefit all of us,” she pointed out.
Citing instances from some Asian countries that had independence at the same time as Ghana, Dr Bisiw said there was the need for Ghanaians to do the right thing “if we want to move ahead as a country”.

Reduce Inefficiency and Waste in NHIS

July 6, 2009
HE Minister of Health, Dr George Yankey, has stated that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) will be sustainable if inefficiency and wastes are reduced by prescribers of medicines.
“For our growing National Health Insurance Scheme, it is cost containment toll to ensure that inefficiency and wastes are reduced to make the scheme sustainable,” he stressed.
The Health Minister explained that inappropriate prescription of medicines was one of the manifestations of irrational use of medicines, which occurred when medicines were not prescribed in accordance with guidelines based on scientific evidence to ensure safe, effective, and economic use.
He was delivering a speech at a stakeholders’ dissemination workshop on the review of the 2004 standard treatment guidelines and essential medicines list in Accra.
The meeting was to offer an opportunity for experts who worked on the review of the draft standard treatment guidelines and essential medicines list to brainstorm on issues in a transparent manner.
Dr Yankey said health systems, particularly in developing countries were faced with growing health needs on one hand and limited resources on the other and, therefore, called on policy makers at various levels to engage in developing cost-effective health interventions to ensure accessible and affordable quality care to benefit all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
In his address, the Director of Pharmaceutical Services and Chief Pharmacist of the Ministry of Health (MoH), Mr James Ohemeng Kyei, said the importance of the standard treatment guidelines was to assist and guide prescribers and dispensers in providing the best possible quality care to patients.
He explained that with the guidelines, any particular health problem would be provided the same treatment irrespective of social status, creed, ethnicity and geographical location of the patient.
Mr Kyei gave the assurance that the completion of the documents would serve as a powerful catalyst to enable the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to complete a review of the NHIA medicine list, which “is also long overdue”.
The First Secretary, Health and Gender, of the Royal Netherlands Embassy, Dr M. de-Jong, expressed the hope that the MoH, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) and the NHIA would succeed in resolving the issues of delayed reimbursements, payments and debt accumulation in the supply lines of the essential drugs and other supplies.
He also expressed hope that the revision of the document would be completed in time for distribution and use in all health facilities.
He touched on the numerous support the Netherlands Embassy had been giving to the Ghana National Drug Programme, adding that is was because of the importance of essential drugs in health care.

Monday, July 6, 2009

CHRI disappointed with MoU - on death of Ghanaians in the Gambia (page

Story: Lucy Adoma Yeboah
THE Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has expressed “surprise” at the outcome of deliberations on the case of the murdered Ghanaians in The Gambia and charged the government of Ghana to show more commitment in pursuing the matter.
Reacting to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was signed on Thursday, between the governments of Ghana and The Gambia on the issue, the Executive Director of CHRI, Nana Oye Lithur, said the initiative, which had played a leading role in the matter, was disappointed with the outcome.
The human rights advocate said it was unacceptable that contribution was being considered for only six Ghanaians found dead in The Gambia without any mention of about 34 other Ghanaians who died or lost their lives during the unfortunate incident.
She also sought for compensation for Mr Martin Kyere, the survivor who testified for the government of Ghana during the fact-finding mission.
As part of the settlement, reached in Libya last Thursday, The Gambian government agreed to make contributions to the families of six Ghanaians who, the government of the Gambia claimed, were the only ones whose bodies were found on its territory.
There was also an agreement between the two countries to exhume and repatriate the six bodies to their families in Ghana so as to enable them to have befitting traditional burials.
"CHRI notes with surprise, the final conclusion on negotiations following a review of the Report of the Joint United Nations-ECOWAS Fact-finding Team on the circumstances surrounding the deaths and disappearance of the 44 Ghanaians in The Gambia in 2005," she stated.
She further raised issues with the two governments alleging that they concluded the matter without recourse to the families of the affected Ghanaians who were killed or had disappeared.
According to Nana Oye, it was disappointing that the concerns of the affected families had not at all material times been factored into the negotiations by either the fact-finding mission or other government deliberations, despite the fact that the families had on countless occasions sought audience with the government.
Last Thursday, the governments of Ghana and The Gambia resolved to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the 2005 crime in line with the position of the African Union (AU) and ECOWAS.
In addition, the two countries agreed to follow up on any future leads in the case of those suspected to be missing.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Murder of 44 Ghanaians in The Gambia- 6 Bodies to be Exhumed (Front Page)

FOUR years after 44 Ghanaians were murdered in The Gambia, the governments of Ghana and The Gambia have finally resolved to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of that crime in line with the position of the African Union (AU) and ECOWAS.
In addition, the two countries have also agreed to follow up on any future leads in the case of those suspected missing.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) to that effect was signed yesterday at a meeting held on the sidelines of the 11th Summit of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in Sirte, Libya by Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, and the Foreign Minister of Gambia, Dr Omar Alieu Touray. It was witnessed by the Chairman of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, Mr Ojo Maduekwe, who is also the Foreign Minister of Nigeria, and the Deputy Secretary General of the UN, Dr Asha-Rose Migiro.
The resolutions were the result of prolonged diplomacy including a ministerial meeting held to discuss the report of the Joint United Nations-ECOWAS Fact-finding Team, which was set up in August 2008, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths and disappearances of the Ghanaian nationals in The Gambia in July, 2005.
As part of the settlement, The Gambian government has agreed to make contributions to the families of six Ghanaians who, the government of the Gambia claimed, were the only ones whose bodies were found on its territory.
There was also an agreement between the two countries to exhume and repatriate the six bodies to their families in Ghana so as to enable them to have befitting traditional burials.
On May 11, 2009, a delegation from the two countries, represented by the ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Interior and Justice of The Gambia as well as ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Interior of Ghana met at the headquarters of the ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, under the auspices of the UN and ECOWAS to take a decision on the matter.
Consistent with the findings of the fact-finding team, the two parties, however, acknowledged that the government of The Gambia was not directly or indirectly complicit in the deaths and disappearances of the Ghanaian nationals concerned.
Nonetheless, The Gambian government agreed to make contributions to the families of the six Ghanaians, in conformity with African traditional values shared by both countries.
On July 23, 2005 Ghanaians were hit hard by the unpleasant news of the alleged killing of 44 of their compatriots and nine other West African nationals in The Gambia.
The news generated a national rage against The Gambia, compelling the then government to press the ECOWAS Commission and the UN to conduct an independent investigation into the case, so as to establish the complicity or otherwise of the Gambian security apparatus.
Subsequently, the two institutions set up a joint mission on August 14, 2008, tasked with investigating the issue under the chairmanship of an eminent Jamaican diplomat, Ambassador Ward.
The joint UN-ECOWAS fact-finding team was established at the request of the governments of The Gambia and Ghana to facilitate efforts by both governments to bring about the peaceful resolution of the above-mentioned matter “consistent with the principle of justice, and respect for human rights and human dignity”.
The memorandum said in recognition of the discovery that those Ghanaians and other ECOWAS nationals were victims of a human trafficking scam, and because of the regional dimension of the problem, both governments and other ECOWAS member states should intensify efforts to identify and punish known traffickers with the support of the international community.
Earlier reports on the incident indicated that alongside nationals from other African countries, the deceased, who were described as Ghanaian migrants, were allegedly killed by Gambian soldiers who saw them as hired insurgents brought into the country to topple President Yahaya Jammeh.
In the aftermath of the killings the dead bodies were reportedly found scattered along the Gambian coast.
Meanwhile, the governments of Ghana and The Gambia have re-affirmed their commitment to strengthen their traditional cordial bilateral relations and agreed to go by what was contained in their joint memorandum.

GDA Holds Annual Congress (page 43)

July 2, 2009

THE Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Dr Mustapha Ahmed, has appealed to the Ghana Dental Association (GDA) to help find lasting solution to continuous oral health problems affecting people in the Bongo District.
High level of fluoride in water in the Bongo District has been identified as a contributory factor to the oral health problems of the people in the area.
Addressing the 18th annual congress of the GDA in Accra on Tuesday, Dr Ahmed, who is a dentist, said the incidence of very high level of fluoride in water in the area posed a serious threat to all, particularly children.
The congress, which was on the theme: "Oral Health of the Ghanaian Child - Our Concern" was sponsored by Unilever Ghana Limited.
Dr Ahmed, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ayawaso East, said poor oral health was an essential component of the overall health of a person.
Medical researchers have begun to appreciate the complex relationship between poor oral health and its effects on other bodily systems.
As much as 18 per cent of premature births is attributable to poor oral health in mothers while mothers with poor oral health are seven times likely to have a premature and/or low birth weight.
Dr Ahmed said there was even evidence to link poor oral health to cardiovascular disease, poorly controlled diabetes and difficulties in pregnancy and delivery.
The Ayawaso East MP, therefore, called on the government to aim at achieving the global goals for developing better oral health system by 2020.
For her part, Nana Yaa Kissi, the Category Manager (Personal Care) of Unilever Ghana Limited, said oral care was central to every individual's well-being, adding that that was the reason why the organisation had decided to embark on a programme to encourage "Day and Night Brushing" in especially children.
She explained that a major way one could contribute to the oral health of the country was to focus on children who were more likely to get used to new habits.
Nana Yaa Kissi said Unilever had since a School Mission Campaign in 1996 reached up to four million children and hoped to cover about 350,000 this year.
In his welcoming address, the President of the GDA, Dr Eric Asamoah, said there were 172 registered dental surgeons currently practising in Ghana, which gave the dental surgeon-population ratio as 1:116,000, a figure far below the recommended World Health Organisation ratio of one surgeon to 80 people.
In spite of the challenge, he said, dentists in the country were doing their best to offer quality health care to the people and appealed to the government to prevent quarks from practising as dentists.
An exhibition of various oral health care products by Unilever Ghana and other manufacturers was mounted as part of the congress.

Make teeth examination mandatory before admission — MP (Junior Graphic )

July 1-July 7, 2009

THE Member of Parliament (MP) for Ayawaso East, Dr Mustapha Ahmed has said that one sure way of promoting child oral health is to make it mandatory for school-going children to show proof of dental examination before admission to school.
He said just as children have to show proof of innoculation against the six childhood killer diseases, examination of a child's teeth by school authorities before admission would encourage parents to take proper care of their children's teeth.
Dr Ahmed who is a dentist himself was addressing members of the Ghana Dental Association (GDA) at their 18 annual congress in Accra on Friday.
The congress was sponsored by Unilever Ghana Limited; manufacturers of Close Up and Pepsodent toothpaste. It was on the theme "Oral Health of the Ghanaian Child-Our Concern".
The MP said "Benefits from this policy are many, including the education of parents about the need the for basic oral care and the adoption of regular dental visits for check up".
Dr Ahmed pointed out that poor oral health in children affected far more than just their appearance adding the "effects include pain, nutritional difficulty, tooth loss, less of sleep lack of, attention deficits, which could result in a child's poor performance in school and in life".
He said there was the need for stakeholders in the health service and other policy makers to work together and show more growing concern about the poor state of oral health for the Ghanaian child.
On her part, Nana Yaa Kissi, the Category Manager (Personal Care) of Unilever Ghana Limited said more than 50 million hours of school time was missed each year in the United States (US) because of dental problems.
"I do not have the equivalent figures in Ghana but I have reason to believe that this is fast becoming the case if not already the case", she stressed.