Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nation mourns Dan Lartey (Front Page)

A CROSS-SECTION of Ghanaians yesterday turned out at the ‘Citadel House’, the residence of the Founder and Leader of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), Mr Dan Lartey, to mourn the passing away of the elder politician.
The businessman and politician passed away in his sleep at the home he had named ‘Citadel House’ at the age of 83, leaving behind an 87-year-old wife and eight children, comprising five men and three women.
Although some people were wailing at the time the Daily Graphic visited the residence at Kaneshie First Light, the mood of the immediate family was, however, not that of sorrow.
In an interview, the deceased’s eldest son, Mr Henry Lartey, said in spite of some adversities, his late father lived a fulfilled life, for which reason the family would remain grateful to God and celebrate his life.
A former publisher and labour unionist, Dan Lartey's name became a household one following his 2004 mantra of “domestication”, the political philosophy of growing Ghana from Ghana, rather than depending on foreign aid and investments.
His political career started in 1969 when he contested the Gomoa East Constituency seat on the ticket of the National Alliance of Liberals (NAL) in the parliamentary election of that year.
In 1972, he was appointed a special adviser to General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong’s National Redemption Council (NRC) government.
In 1978, he represented Gomoa-Ewutu-Effutu at the Constituent Assembly in the writing of the Third Republican Constitution.
Mr Lartey was a founder member of the People's National Party (PNP) in 1979 and an aspiring presidential candidate of the National Independence Party (NIP) in 1992 and lost to Mr Kwabena Darko.
With signs of old age and its attendant ill health, Mr Dan Lartey returned to Ghana on November 29, 2009 after a six-month visit to the United States of America (USA), where he received medical treatment, but he passed away last Monday, December 28.
Christened Daniel Augustus Lartey, the 2000 and 2004 presidential candidate of the GCPP was born on August 1, 1926 at Winneba in the Central Region.
After his elementary education in Ghana, he proceeded to the UK, where he obtained a diploma at the London Chamber of Commerce and Sloan's Shorthand Certificate of Proficiency. He also obtained a diploma in commerce and industry from the London School of Economics in 1956.
From 1944 to 1958, Mr Lartey worked with the then United Africa Company (UAC), where he rose to senior management status and was posted to its headquarters at the Unilever House in London.
Mr Lartey established a number of businesses, including Lartey & Lartey Books and Stationery, which later became the nucleus of Ghana Book Supply, Citadel Printing Press and the Federal Stores of Nigeria.
According to his son, Henry, the late Mr Lartey established five newspapers — the Citadel Daily, African World, Citadel Sports, The Guardian and The Guardian Sports.
He was said to have suffered under the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), during which his printing press was closed for about a year.
When he realised that he could not revamp the press house, the late Mr Lartey leased a greater part of the structure to individual enterprises and kept some of the rooms as his political party office.
Later in life, he became the Odikro of Gomoa Lome in the Central Region but had to vacate the stool when he decided to engage in active political party activities in 1992.
When the ban on party politics was lifted in Ghana, private newspapers such as The Vanguard, edited by Mr Osbert Lartey, The Experience, with Mr Stanley Solomon as the Editor, and The Christian Chronicle, which was edited by the late Mr George Naykene, were all housed within the Citadel House.
Some individuals who often visited Mr Dan Lartey’s Citadel House in the early 1990s were Mr Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Mr Joe Baidoo Ansah, Mr Akoto Ampaw, Dr Sekou Nkrumah, Mr Ali Masmadi Jehu-Appiah, among others.
Mr Lartey, a staunch vestige of Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party (CPP) and Nkrumahist adherent, ran for national president on the ticket of the GCPP on two occasions since breaking away to form the party as a splinter of the CPP.
After the 2000 and 2004 elections, he was only stopped from having a third bite at the 2008 presidential race when the Electoral Commission (EC) disqualified him for submitting his nomination papers late.
He had just managed to beat an October 17, 2008 deadline for the exercise and paid the stipulated GH¢5,000 nomination fee, only to be told of errors in his documents. The documents and the money were returned to him, but that was too late to beat the deadline.
Although he had been on his sick bed, Mr Lartey managed to grant an interview to the Daily Graphic which was published on December 19 and 22, this year.
In the first story, he asked Ghanaians to be adequately educated on the principles and functions of electronic voting if the country decided to use it for the 2012 elections.
Mr Lartey, who had returned from a trip abroad, said much as his party was in support of such an innovation, there was the need for care to be taken to prevent any individual or group of persons from taking undue advantage of the move.
In the other story, the late Mr Lartey urged the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to sit up and take up its constitutional duties effectively in order not to allow non-governmental institutions to take the shine out of it.

Health Insurance registers 13,840,198 people

THE National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) had registered 13,840,198 Ghanaian residents under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) by the end of November, 2009.
Officials of the NHIA, regulators of the NHIS say the figure represents about 67 per cent of the population of Ghana.
Information made available by the officials indicated that out of the 13.8 million persons who had registered as of November 2009, about 12,846,526 of them, representing 87.8 per cent had been issued with identification (ID) cards which enabled them access healthcare facilities without paying at the delivery point.
Taking into consideration the objective for the establishment of the scheme under Act 650 of 2003 by the Government of Ghana, which is to provide basic healthcare services to persons resident in the country through mutual and private health insurance schemes, that figure could be considered a positive achievement.
Funds for the scheme are from subscribers’ premiums which range from GH¢7.20p to GH¢48, as well as 2.5 per cent National Health Insurance Levy; 2. 5 per cent Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) deductions from the formal sector; funds from the Government of Ghana to be allocated by Parliament, as well as returns from investment made by the NHIA.
To fulfil its manifesto promise to the people of Ghana, the government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is planning to initiate a one-time-payment policy to ensure an affordable health service for the people.
The policy, which is expected to be implemented by the end of next year, is to grant Ghanaians equal access to quality healthcare.
At a staff durbar held on December 22, 2009, the Chief Executive Officer of the NHIA, Mr Sylvester Mensah, said recent auditing conducted within the various district schemes had revealed that about 20 per cent of funds meant for claims and re-insurance have been wrongly used for administrative purposes.
That, according to the authority, could partly be blamed for some of the problems associated with the non-payment of claims to service providers under the NHIS; an issue which had remained a major challenge to service providers under the scheme.
He hinted the NHIA would next year put in place measures to further eliminate leaks which had previously been going on within the schemes, adding that any scheme manager who misapplied money meant for claims would be sanctioned.
The CEO announced a number of changes and transfers at the NHIA head office, as well as regional offices; a move, he explained, was meant to strengthen the various units and directorates.
On November 5, 2009, a month-long refresher course for personnel of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in information, communication technology (ICT) ended in Accra.
The programme, which was organised by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), was to provide the necessary capacity for claim managers as well as officials working within the management information system (MIS) units in the various schemes to ensure improvement on performance.
The object of the programme, according to the CEO of the NHIA, Mr Sylvester Mensah, was to conduct the personnel through new ICT modules in order to sharpen their brains for the work ahead.
Mr Mensah said some of the major challenges that had affected implementation of the NHIS since its inception in 2004 were claims management and registration of members. He, however, expressed the hope that with the training being effected, those officers should be able to effect significant changes in their areas of operation.
Being in its fifth year of implementation, the managers of the NHIS are scrutinising the operations of the scheme to determine whether some areas in the Act which established it should be reviewed.
In that direction, the NHIA has engaged the services of a consulting firm, Development and Law, to look into Act 650 of 2003.
On Wednesday, October 8, 2009 the NHIA organised a two-day seminar for the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health to consider how best to review portions of the law to enable the scheme offer better services to Ghanaians.
The seminar became necessary after the consultants had identified 59 legal, as well as 108 implementation and operational challenges in the legislative instrument governing the NHIS.
The findings, according to officials of the NHIA, had necessitated the authority to strengthen its call for amendments to Act 650 of 2003 which has the objective of providing affordable and quality healthcare to all residents of Ghana.
In his presentation, Dr Raymond A. Atuguba of Law and Development Associates said after five years of implementation of the scheme under Act 650, some issues had come up which made it necessary for the law to be reviewed to ensure smooth operation.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic after the opening of the seminar, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Alhaji Dr Mustapha Ahmed said the review of the law had become more significant now that the government was planning to introduce one-off-time premium under the NHIS.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Darkuman Pentecost ends Convention

THE newly constituted Darkuman District of the Church of Pentecost (COP) last Sunday ended a four-day Christmas Convention at the P & T park at Darkuman.
The church used the occasion to honour some officers within the various assemblies as well as the Darkuman District office of the COP who have helped in diverse ways and at various stages in the development of the church.
Preaching the sermon, the District Pastor, Reverend Matthew Larbi-Wettey, urged Christians to allow themselves to be filled with the spirit of the Lord to effect changes in society.
He called on each Christian to be what he termed “a campaign manager” for Christ and win souls for the kingdom of God.
Speaking on the theme “The Causes and Effects of the Good News of Great Joy”, Rev. Larbi-Wettey said Christians should accept the message of the birth of Jesus with all their hearts and spread it to rest of the world.
He said when one was filled with the Holy Spirit just like the shepherds who received the news of Jesus were, one should be able to do wonders for the benefit of society.
He said with the spirit, the sick person turned into a healer; the accursed became blessed and an the low in society began to do wonders.
As the world prepares to enter a new year, Rev. Larbi-Wettey asked for peace for the nation and advised Ghanaians to allow themselves to be filled with the good news of Jesus.
Using the examples of Saul, the king of Israel and the other Saul who later became Paul, the Apostle of Christ, the District Pastor said when a person was touched with the holy spirit he become a changed person in all things.

Monday, December 28, 2009

LET'S FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER- Ghanaians urged (Front Page)

By Graphic Reporters

CHRISTIANS throughout the country marked the annual observance of Christmas with church services and conventions, during which they expressed gratitude to God and prayed for the peace and stability of the nation in the coming year.
Carols nights, crusades and vigils were also held to usher in the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ by the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago. And the common message in most churches was need for peace, love and goodwill among men as well as the call for forgiveness and compassion.
At the Grace Baptist Church, Sakumono in Accra, the Head Pastor, Rev J. N. N. Ocquaye, called on Ghanaians to pray for leaders who had the fear of God to lead the country, reports Emmanuel Amoako.
He said just as Jesus came to promote peace, justice and goodwill among men, it behoved leaders to ensure equity, fair play and justice in all spheres of our national life.
Rev Ocquaye also urged Ghanaians to forgive anyone who had wronged them in the course of the year.
“If God, out of love, gave us His only begotten Son to wipe away our sins and reconcile man onto Himself, why must we allow the wrongs of others to block our blessings?” he asked.
The Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana, the Most Rev Prof Emmanuel Asante, advised Ghanaians not to lose hope in the midst of current global economic difficulties, reports Augustina Tawiah.
Rather, he said, they should have faith in the Lord that He would strengthen them to overcome the current difficulties.
In an interview yesterday after delivering a sermon at the Good Shepherd Methodist Church in the Kaneshie North Circuit, the Most Rev Prof Asante explained that "the message of Christmas is about hope to the hopeless because Jesus became flesh in order to redeem us. We may think that things are hopeless but because God is part of us, we have hope that He will redeem us".
He added that just as Mary conceived Jesus, who became the Saviour of the world, Ghanaians should conceive ideas that would contribute to the growth of the nation.
To the leaders of the nation, he urged that the birth of Christ should become an empowerment for them to spend and be spent for the nation.
"May Jesus enter their lives so that they will contribute to the well-being of the nation," he noted.
Earlier in his sermon on the theme, "How to grow with wisdom and favour in God", the Most Rev Prof Asante said those who lived in the Lord grew in wisdom and strength.
The Superintendent Minister of the Kaneshie North Circuit of the Methodist Church, the Very Rev Samuel Ofori-Akyea, in his message, urged Ghanaians to work towards peace and make sure that they maintained discipline at their various workplaces.
The church used the occasion to honour some members who had distinguished themselves in the work of the Lord.
At Sowutuom, members of the newly created Sowutuom District of the Church of Pentecost organised a Christmas convention on the theme, “The Son of the Living God Is Born”, reports Lucy Adoma Yeboah.
Preaching at the convention, the Dansoman Area Head of the Church of Pentecost, Prophet Osei Amaniampong, said the nation needed the favour of the Lord to guide individuals, families, the church and the country to achieve positive results.
He advised Ghanaians not to despair because of the current global economic situation but that they should continue to depend on the Lord for His blessings.
He prayed to God to smile at Ghana in the coming year.
The General Overseer of the Ablaze Chapel International, Apostle Daniel Clad, said, “As a nation, we need to understand that what will lead to our progress is unity,” reports Rebecca Quaicoe-Duho.
Delivering a sermon on the last Sunday of 2009, Apostle Clad said Christmas represented the demonstration of God’s love for all mankind and underscored the need for people to show love and compassion to their fellow Christians and their neighbours.
“Let your light so shine before men, so that they may see your good works,” he said, and called on people to stop the pull-him-down attitude.
Preaching at the Christian Praise International Centre (CPIC) at Pig Farm in Accra to commemorate Christmas, the Founder and Presiding Bishop of the church, Rev Dr Augustine Annor-Yeboah, said Jesus Christ came to restore man from sin to salvation, reports Kofi Yeboah.
He said in order to accept Jesus Christ and enjoy salvation, there was the need for man not to surrender to the will of Satan, such as unbelief and self-centredness.
“We are not complete in ourselves; our sufficiency is of God,” he remarked.
The Pastor in charge of the Global Evangelical Church branch at Kotobaabi in Accra, Rev Francis F.K. Abotchi, urged Christians to lead the crusade against climate change, reports Seth J. Bokpe.
“The Copenhagen conference would have been unnecessary if we had all played our roles well in conserving the environment God gave us,” he stated.
In a sermon entitled, “The Good News”, Rev Abotchi said it was regrettable that some Christians were part of those releasing toxic waste and other materials that posed a threat to the environment and generations yet unborn.
The birth of Christ signified love, reconciliation, peace and unity given to mankind by God, the Assistant Parish Priest of the All Saints Anglican Church, Rev Fr Raymond Otchwemah, said in a sermon to mark the occasion, reports Matilda Attram.
He said Christmas called for sharing, although most people linked it with merrymaking in their own ways.
“Beloved Christians, Christmas is a time for reconciliation; it’s the time to forgive, just as our God forgives our trespasses; it’s the time to let go and show love. This is the time to sacrifice the little we have and share with others what we have,” he stated.
The Head Pastor of Faith Cathedral Church, Rev Ebenezer Okoe Aryee, said for one to attain his goals in the coming year and be lifted to higher levels, there was the need to acknowledge the existence of God in one's life, Henrietta Brocke reports.
"In this race, one needs to run as fast as a deer and never hesitate to trust in his God when confronted with problems,” he said.
Rev Aryee advised the congregation never to cease praying because prayer was the key to success, adding that for success to prevail, it was relevant for the congregation to unite with each other.
From Lapaz, Gloria Kyeremeh reports that the Head Pastor of the Abeka-Lapaz Community Chapel of the International Central Gospel Church, Rev Emmanuel Nene Dugbatey, said members should apply the law of recognition in their lives.
He said it was very important for Christians to acknowledge the existence and power of God over their lives, since humans were just mortal beings and had no authority over their lives.
Rev Dugbatey advised members to show gratitude at all times and to everybody, saying it was only by doing that would Christians grow in the Lord.
His sermon was on the theme, “Love”, based on Colossians 3: 12-17.
From Tamale, Vincent Amenuveve reports that Christians in the Tamale metropolis marked Christmas with church activities, while revellers celebrated the occasion with social events.
Churches in the metropolis, including the OLA Cathedral, the Bethel Chapel of the Methodist Church, Ghana, among others, were filled to capacity by Christians as they held church services, including vigils and carols nights.
The Co-ordinator of the Inter-Religious Dialogue of the Tamale Archdiocese of the Catholic Church, Reverend Father Boniface Maasoayele, in a message, urged both Christians and non-Christians to “take away their worried faces and shut off the darkness of worries that could prevent people from approaching them”.
He entreated residents of the metropolis to make peace and avoid hatred, saying Jesus Christ came into the world to ensure that people opened their hearts to their fellow brothers and sisters.
He indicated that there was a reason for Christ to have chosen to come into the world in a humble manner which many did not expect because He was supposed to be “the King of Kings”.
He explained that by coming into the world in that manner, Jesus Christ wanted to make Himself approachable to all mankind, adding that in the same manner, He wanted Christians to make themselves approachable.
In his message, the Northern Regional Minister, Mr Stephen Nayina, stated that just as the wise men in the Bible presented “Baby Jesus with gold, incense and myrrh, so must Ghanaians present Mother Ghana with hard work, devotion and dedication”.
He urged Christians and Ghanaians to pray for peace, particularly in the north, saying by that “we shall continue to pride our nation as the source of peace in the sub-region”.
Benjamin Xornam Glover reports from Bolgatanga that the Head Pastor of the Kingdom Life Ministry Church, Rev Joseph Anyindana, called for peace and tolerance among the various political parties and asked politicians to offer constructive criticism to meet the basic needs of society.
“When this is done religiously and without malice, Ghanaians will be happier and a new and better Ghana will be built,” he said.
Rev Anyindana said the time had come for “politicians in Ghana to stop criticising each other unwisely, unfriendly and unproductively. They must also stop sabotaging each other’s efforts and rather appreciate and complement each other”.
At the Bolgatanga Peniel Presbyterian Congregation, the Resident Minister, Rev Fie Hyeamang, said God gave His only begotten Son to the world to dwell among men so that through Him people would turn their backs on sin and turn to God for salvation.
He advised the congregation to use Christmas to learn how to give, especially to the vulnerable in society, as Christ Himself was a gift from God to mankind.
In Kumasi, hundreds of worshippers converged on the St Cyprian’s Anglican Cathedral to mark the occasion with a church service, reports Kwame Asare Boadu from Kumasi.
In his Christmas message, the Anglican Bishop of Kumasi, the Rt Rev Dr Daniel Yinkah Sarfo, said Christmas reminded Christians to pursue peace, love, unity, goodwill and reconciliation for national development.
He said Ghanaians now needed peace and unity to build democratic governance, adding that Christians had a big role to play in making that a reality.
He quoted Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be full of grace and seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone,” and urged politicians to speak words devoid of abuse and rather join the people together for national development.
He urged Ghanaians to put their trust in God and allow Him to lead the nation to progress.
The Bishop said 2009 saw the nation facing some challenges but he was confident that with God, things would improve in the coming year.
At the St Peter’s Catholic Church at Asuoyeboah in Kumasi, Rev Fr Peter Osei Amoateng, who preached the sermon, said the birth of Christ gave Christians the authority to be children of God so there was the need for them to lead dignified lifestyles, reports George Ernest Asare.
“Any negative attitude such as rancour, back-biting, bribery and corruption, envy, among others, dishonoured the authority bestowed on you as Children of God, ” he noted.
He, therefore, charged Christians leading lifestyles that undermined the authority bestowed on them as children of God to change their attitudes as they entered the new year.
He said the three stars that led the Wise men to the birthplace of Jesus Christ also signified the victory of light over darkness and, therefore, charged Christians to worship God in truth, unity and holiness.
He said by worshipping God in truth, holiness and unity, Christians would be able to entice others to emulate their shining examples at their workplaces, their immediate environments and communities to enhance peace on earth.
Rev Fr Amoateng said leading exemplary lifestyles as Christians was also the best way to entice others who did not believe in their faith to accept Christ as their saviour.
While church services were underway, revellers used the occasion to organise social events such as parties, street jams and picnics, while families used it for social gatherings.
The various night-clubs and entertainment centres were also filled with holiday makers who were entertained with a variety of music from ace musicians in the country.

Let's uproot ills that hinder development -Rt Revd Frimpong-Manso

Thursday, December 24, 2009
THE Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rt. Rev Dr Yaw Frimpong-Manso, has called on Ghanaians to demonstrate a high level of commitment towards uprooting activities that hinder the development of the nation.
He said such activities, including bribery and corruption, dehumanisation and marginalisation of people, political incorrectness and greed, were part of some major practices obstructing the development process.
“Let us, as a nation, rise up and build our walls of fellowship, commonality and fellow-feeling to strengthen our welfare systems. We are to contribute our quota towards the building of the political, social, economic and religious walls of our nation,” he stated.
Rev Dr Frimpong-Manso made this remark at a press conference in Accra to deliver his last Christmas and New Year message as a moderator of the Presbyterian Church.
It was on the theme: “Christ, The True Model of Leadership.
Rev Frimpong-Manso urged Ghanaians to reflect on past years and engage in activities that would encourage the youth to contribute to the development of the nation.
He said Ghanaians could do better in developing the nation, if the needed support was generously rendered to each other in all activities.
He added that the rebuilding process of development was a collective task in which all had special roles to play towards the success of the church and the nation.
Rev Frimpong-Manso provoked Ghanaians to reflect on the leadership roles of their various positions and emulate the example of Christ as a model of leadership, who worked to benefit others.
He pointed out that God blessed his people with a peaceful kingdom which needed to be nurtured and developed by its leaders through His spirit to fulfil their leadership mandate for the good of all.
"The world today is facing many challenges which need leaders who will emerge from humble beginnings and yet allow the spirit of God to use them in performing their roles. Let us therefore reflect on the type of kingdoms we are building as leaders," he said.
He further entreated Ghanaians to remember their responsibilities towards the aged, widows, orphans, the needy and the youth as they celebrated the birth of Christ in order to appreciate the vision of Christ that He came for all to have life.
"Of particular concern to me is the ever-increasing numbers of the aged, widows and orphans, who need our material and spiritual support in this time of our lives. Let us create a better welfare system that will take care of the weak and vulnerable in society," Rev Frimpong-Manso added.
He challenged Christians and the public to pray for peace, justice, integrity and righteous living in the new year as the nation prepared for her District Assembly and Unit Committee elections.
Lucy Adoma Yeboah reports that the Archbishop of the Church of the Province of West Africa and Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Accra, Most Reverend Dr Justice O. Akrofi, in a message, has said that the Christmas and the New Year period is time for reflection and for resolving to commit ourselves to important agenda, adding that “for in it shall we find our peace and security”.
He noted that Ghana had been under the leadership of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by President John Evans Atta-Mills for about a year and that the excitement of the presidential and parliamentary elections had now given way to reality and sobriety.
“State-building is working at what it takes to have a vibrant and vital nation-state, buoyant economy, good health system, and moral fibre. It is not the task of only the government; it is the task of all of us. Let all of us, no one excluded, commit to working at building a viable, vibrant and vital state,” he stated.
“At this Yuletide, our deepest prayer for this nation is for peace and reconciliation. Ghana is our only home. The painful experiences of Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Sierra Leone should warn us to so behave as not to destroy our nation or dispossess or disinherit anyone,” he added.
For his part, Reverend Derek Amanor, the Resident Pastor of the RoyalHouse Chapel International, wished all Ghanaians God’s blessings, goodwill and peace at homes, at workplaces, among their neighbours and members of the various political parties.
He recalled an earlier message to the church in which he indicated that in the coming year, God was going to favour Ghana with double blessings.
He, therefore, urged Ghanaians to live in peace with one another and work towards national development.
Rev Amanor observed that just as the angels sang when Christ was born, Christmas meant peace on earth and goodwill to all men and urged Ghanaians to ensure that they lived in peace throughout the coming year.

More die from liver diseases - Study (The Mirror)

Sat, December 24, 2009

A study conducted in Accra between 1996 and 2002 has shown that out of 22,394 persons who died and passed through autopsies, 1,176 suffered from liver diseases.
The study, conducted by the Dean of School of Allied Health Sciences, College of Health Sciences at the University of Ghana, Professor Edwin Kwame Wiredu, also revealed liver diseases had been rising at the rate of about 0.3 per cent annually in Ghana.
Delivering the keynote address at a day’s symposium sponsored by the University of Ghana Research Fund in Accra last Wednesday, Prof. Wiredu said liver diseases, which include Hepatitis, was a major health problem in the country and must be tackled with all the seriousness they deserved.
Speaking on the topic “Mortality from Liver Diseases in Accra—Autopsies from 1996 to 2002”, he said the study was conducted on all persons above 20 years who died in Accra during the seven-year period.
In addition, Professor Wiredu said all deceased persons diagnosed with liver cases were also investigated to determine the specific disease, adding that more men suffered and died from liver diseases than women.
The Head of Molecular Virology and Diagnostics Development Division of Transfusion Medicine, Department of Haematology, University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, Professor J.P. Allain, said most children who suffered from Hepatitis were infected before 10 years.
He explained that children easily passed the virus on to other children and pointed out that it was important to protect them, since they tended to have weak immune system.
Professor Allain pointed out that Hepatitis, if not treated, could become chronic and urged sufferers to seek early treatment.
Giving an overview of the “Prevalence of Hepatitis in Ghana—an epidemiological perspective”, Mr Anthony Dangdem of the Public Health Reference Laboratory, Ghana Health Service (GHS), said tests conducted during blood donations indicated that cases of Hepatitis was increasing in the country.
He explained that Hepatitis carriers posed a risk to others, since it was highly infectious.
Mr Dangdem said Hepatitis was an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection, adding that there were five main Hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of contact with infected body fluids, for example, blood transfusions or invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipment. Hepatitis B is also transmitted by sexual contact.
The symptoms of hepatitis include jaundice; that is yellowing of the skin and eyes, dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
In his welcoming address, the Director of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), Professor Alexander Nyarko, said although liver diseases were causing too much harm to people globally, not much was known about them, adding that evidence of the diseases abound in the hospitals.
The chairman for the function, Professor Yao Tettey, who is also the Vice Dean of the University of Ghana Medical School, expressed the hope that participants in the symposium could come out with recommendations to help clinicians in their work at the hospitals.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NHIA kicks against of misuse of insurance money

THE National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) says recent auditing conducted within the various district schemes has revealed that about 20 per cent of funds meant for claims and re-insurance have been wrongly used for administrative purposes.
That, according to the authority, could partly be blamed for some of the problems associated with the non-payment of claims to service providers under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Addressing a staff durbar in Accra yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NHIA, Mr Sylvester Mensah, said the use of claim funds for administrative purposes, which could be described as a leak, had been stopped to ensure that money meant for specific items was disbursed appropriately.
He explained that before that decision was taken, scheme officials were withdrawing money and disbursing it any how.
He said the NHIA would next year put in place additional measures to further eliminate leaks which had previously been going on within the schemes, adding that any scheme manager who misapplied money meant for claims would be sanctioned.
Mr Mensah ordered that all schemes were to operate not more than two bank accounts and said currently some of the schemes had about five separate bank accounts, a situation which created room for financial indiscipline.
The CEO said a series of clinical auditing so far conducted had shown that a lot of rot existed in the system, adding that so far eight scheme managers had been interdicted, while 20 other staff members against whom adverse findings had made were awaiting sanctions from the authority.
Additionally, he said, four public hospitals, four private hospitals and four mission hospitals would be suspended before the end of the year.
The CEO announced a number of changes and transfers at the NHIA head office, as well as regional offices, a move which, he explained, was meant to strengthen the various units and directorates.
Mr Mensah stated that 2010 was expected to be a busy year for the schemes, adding that the authority would put up buildings to provide office accommodation for each region and provide vehicles to ensure efficiency.
Within the last few months, he said, the NHIA had established new divisions within it as part of efforts to enhance its operations and commended the staff for working so hard to move the NHIS forward.
The Chairman for the occasion, Dr Nicholas Tweneboa, urged all stakeholders to play their respective parts to ensure the sustenance of the scheme, which was established to take care of the health needs of Ghanaians.
Dr Tweneboa, who is the Director of Operations of the NHIA, said figures on registered members of the NHIS were encouraging and explained that the situation implied that Ghanaians were happy with the scheme.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

NCCE must take up duties effectively — Dan Lartey

THE leader and founder of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), Mr Dan Lartey, has urged the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to sit up and take up its constitutional duties effectively in order to not allow non-governmental institutions to take the shine out of it.
He said it was wrong for the NCCE to wait till elections are due before it was seen in flashes performing certain duties which were usually seen as “camouflage campaign for the party in power”.
He called the NCCE to start organising inter-political parties’ debates and other activities that would generate national awareness and whip up interest in the electorate, adding that these activities would allow the electorate to make informed choices when it came to voting.
He also called on the government to adequately resource the Commission to enable it to perform its constitutionally mandated duties.
In a statement to the Daily Graphic in which he raised other topical issues, Mr Lartey mentioned specifically the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), which he described as “segregationist and apartheid organisation” and urged the NCCE not to allow such organisations to usurp its duties.
Making reference to the 2008 Presidential Debate organised by the IEA, which did not include the smaller political parties such as the GCPP, the veteran politician said “the party does not see the reason why the NCCE allowed a segregationist and apartheid organisation such as the IEA to usurp the organisation of the Presidential Debate of the recent election, which is directly under its purview”.
Under the functions of the NCCE, Article 233 (d) of the 1992 Constitution states that it is “to formulate, implement and oversee programmes intended to inculcate in the citizens of Ghana awareness of their civic responsibilities and appreciation of their rights and obligations as free people”.
Mr Lartey said most often some public institutions hid their inefficiency behind financial constraints and pointed out that if the IEA was able to source funds to organise such a national programme, the NCCE could do better.
He observed that if there was the will from individuals and corporate bodies to support the IEA in such an enterprise, then it clearly showed that despite its financial constraints, NCCE could equally have attracted donors and sponsors if it had not been dormant.
“The party wishes to call on the NCCE to sit up. The party would like to see the NCCE start organising inter-political parties’ debate and other activities that will generate national political awareness and whip up interest in the electorate,” he stressed.

Increases in cost of medicines threat to NHIS

Rampant increases in the cost of medicines for insured members of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) are likely to collapse the scheme.
The conclusion was arrived at a National Forum organised by Medicine Transparency Alliance (MeTA) Ghana, in Accra on Thursday, where it was also observed that the real beneficiaries of the scheme were operators in the pharmacy sector.
The Programme Manager of the National Drug Policy, Mrs Martha Gyansa-Lutterodt, observed that the NHIS provided significant boost for the pharmaceutical sector.
She explained that unlike previously where sick people had no access to medicines, insured persons who visited health facilities were provided with drugs which were paid for by the scheme, a situation which tended to help the pharmaceutical manufacturers to boost sales.
But the Director of Claims of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr Lydia Dsane-Selby, said if the NHIS was to be sustained, there was the need for the growing amounts of money spent on medicines to be reduced.
In her presentation on “Benefits of MeTA activities to the National Health Insurance Scheme” Dr Dsane-Selby said medicines currently took about 55 per cent of the total claims cost of the NHIS, adding that the cost kept rising.
Giving figures to support her claim, she said in 2005, the NHIA paid GH¢7 million on drugs, with the figure shooting up to GH¢35.5 million in 2006, GH¢79.26 million in 2007 and GH¢140.08 million in 2008.
She said the NHIS was facing challenges when it came to the issue of drugs and mentioned non-adherence to medicines lists by service providers; irrational prescribing; under-dispensing; spurious claims; double billing for parallel programmes, for example drugs for the treatment of malaria, as some of the causes of the high cost of drugs.
Dr Dsane-Selby called for measures that would reduce the increasing cost of medicines under the NHIS to ensure the sustainability of the scheme.
A Senior Technical Advisor to MeTA Ghana, Dr Kojo Arhinful said in Ghana, just like six other countries where the organisation had pilot projects, there was the development of strategies to promote greater transparency and accountability regarding policies, practices and outcomes.
He also touched on the need to promote public awareness and education on medicine access.
Speaking on “Quality Assurance of Medicines in Ghana”, an official of the Food and Drugs Board (FDB), Mr Eric K. Boateng, said the board had the responsibility for ensuring that products were developed correctly, identifying managerial responsibilities and providing standard operating procedures, as well as control.
He also touched on the responsibility of defining controls for all stages of manufacture and packaging to ensure that finished products were correctly processed and checked before they were released onto the market, among other issues.
The chairman for the function, Professor David Ofori-Adjei of the University of Ghana, Legon, said MeTA, which was introduced in Ghana in October, 2008, sought to enhance transparency, accountability and accessibility of medicines.

NADMO cautions public to ensure disaster-free Xmas (Back Page)

THE National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) has cautioned the public to guard against six potential causes of disaster during the upcoming Christmas and New Year festivities.
In its pre-Christmas titbits to ensure disaster-free festivities, NADMO advised the public to guard against domestic and industrial fires, bush fires, motor accidents, disasters associated with large human gatherings, social disorders or disturbances, as well as crime.
The Public Relations Officer of the organisation, Major Nicholas Mensah (retd), said domestic and industrial fires were mostly caused by the firing of fire crackers (knockouts), burning of used lorry tyres to usher in the New Year, excessive intake of alcohol which tended to induce careless use of fire in homes, especially on Boxing Day, and overloading of electrical sockets for entertainment purposes.
He cautioned the public to be on the look out for any of those activities and advised relations and neighbours to be one another’s keeper for the safety of all.
“If all precautionary measures are taken and still one is faced with a disaster, please get in touch with NADMO on 021-772926;, 020-2019090 or 028-9554061,” he stressed.
He said to prevent disasters from any of the above-mentioned factors, NADMO, in collaboration with the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), had begun intensive public education and sensitisation programmes at the community level, with support form the various disaster volunteer groups.
He said there was also the possibility of a rise in the number of motor accidents during the period because of increase in the number of travellers which some times made some drivers speed, overload and indulge in wrong overtaking and parking of vehicles.
To protect themselves, Major Mensah charged passengers to insist that drivers did the right thing on the road.
He stated that there were road safety campaigns throughout the country and urged drivers to value their lives and the lives of other road users by heeding the advice of the agencies involved in road safety.
He called for legal empowerment of personnel of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) to enable them to sanction offending drivers, adding that the police should also intensify road checks.
As part of the education, he urged the public to refrain from using roads and streets for social functions without approval from the relevant authorities, since that could cause motor accidents.
He observed that social disturbances occurred when there was excessive merrymaking and alcohol intake which made people behave negatively. Such behaviour, he pointed out, often led to fighting.
Major Mensah stated that there was the possibility of some unscrupulous persons taking advantage of the festivities to engage in criminality and went ahead to advise the public to always take note of the registration numbers of taxis and other passenger vehicles they boarded during the period to be able to report any negative action to the police.
“In the night, avoid moving alone, especially when carrying luggage. Do not expose valuables carelessly; this attract pick-pockets and avoid making calls or answering calls when in a secluded area else you end up having your phone snatched”, he elaborated.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Contribution of polytechnics towards nation building (Feature)

FOR the first time in this country, the Conference of Rectors of Polytechnics (CORP) in Ghana organised a research conference to enable polytechnics have a common platform to discuss specific issues that would contribute towards the building of the economy. The three-day national event was on the theme: “Contribution of Polytechnics Towards Nation Building”. The conference attracted 98 participants.
It is significant to note that the conference took place two years after the formulation of the new Polytechnic Law, Act 745 of 2007, which gave academic autonomy to polytechnics. That, according to the Chairman of the Conference of Rectors of Polytechnics (CORP), Dr Benjamin Kwesi Prah, has placed a huge responsibility on the shoulders of every stakeholder operating in any of the institutions.
“This calls for a different polytechnic lecturer, administrator and worker. Polytechnics must be conscious of the fact that all the supervising agencies will be watching them keenly with multiple magnifying glasses to see whether the polytechnics are equal to the task or not”, he stressed.
As the rectors met to deliberate on a wide range of issues at the research conference at Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region, their anticipated benefits included the generation of ideas for national development; creating awareness about the role of polytechnics in human resource development; empowering the polytechnic community to be more innovative and proactive to proffer solutions to the challenges facing the country. They also looked at ways to initiate strategies that would help modernise operational processes to be cost-effective and competitive in today’s globalised environment.
The conference was also expected to offer greater opportunities for members of the polytechnic community to develop their research capabilities in various fields of human endeavours.
At the end of the day, a total of 75 research papers presented at the conference covered Engineering, Applied Sciences and Commerce.
It is important, at this juncture to note that polytechnics in Ghana, just as in other parts of the world play very important role because they provide people with professional and specific skills that contribute to their empowerment and development. After acquiring the requisite knowledge and skills, polytechnic graduates go out to the world to contribute their quota in diverse ways. This is the more reason why the research conference which involved heads of the polytechnics and lecturers was considered very important and timely.
As they moved on with issues tabled for the conference, the participants reminded themselves of how the world was changing rapidly mainly through technological development and also the fact that there was always the need to anticipate change and plan for it. It was made clear that ideas that would be generated from the conference would add to knowledge creation and sharing among academia, industry and the society at large.
With these at the back of their minds, the rectors and lecturers from the various polytechnics braced themselves up for the future.
When he was given the opportunity to address the participants on behalf of the Minister of Education, Mr Alex Tetteh-Enyo, the Deputy Minister of Education in charge of tertiary education, Dr Joseph Samuel Annan said the utmost goal of research must be higher productivity, efficiency and total national development but not a means to getting academic progression for status or income.
Dr Annan stressed on the need for researchers to help industry and commerce to satisfy consumer demands. He also urged academics and researchers to foster a closer collaboration with industry and commerce so that research findings would be utilised promptly and effectively.
He also touched on one important issue when he said there was no basis for competition between the universities and the polytechnic, because, the two institutions complemented one another.
Dr Annan took also touch on the oil find and asked Ghanaians not to be deceived into thinking that the oil industry would be a panacea to all the country’s problems overnight.
“We can only realise the full benefits of the industry if other productive sectors are modernised and adequately resourced to enhance our production of goods and services that would be needed by the industry and the citizenry,” he said.
When it was his turn to welcome his colleagues to the conference, Dr Prah said a common research conference for all the polytechnics was a laudable idea because if each polytechnic was allowed to organise its own research conference, it would not be cost-effective and may sooner than later bring boredom and eventually lose its meaning.
He reminded the polytechnics that nation building was a collective responsibility so efforts must be made to harness the expertise and skills of all citizens.
At the end, a communiqué issued at the end of the conference called on the Government to provide increased and sustained funding for research work in the polytechnics.
It also called on the Government to provide significant funding to Technical, Vocational and Educational Training (TVET),as well as scholarship to TVET institutions in order to build capacity in those institutions.
The communiqué stressed the need for polytechnics to develop research partnerships with their counterparts both locally and internationally.
It also urged polytechnics and industry to intensify collaboration on issues of attachment and internships for students and staff.
At the end of the research conference, it became clear that a new dawn had been ushered in at the campuses of the various polytechnics where those institutions have been given the opportunity to show-case to the world their unique potentials towards the building of the nation.
Just as the rectors expressed gratitude to the Government for the support it had so far offered the institutions, they also asked for more assistance to enable them contribute effectively and promptly to the development of the nation. Again, it is expected that the research conference would be sustained and organised annually.

Policy on doctors’ postings critical- Speakers (The Mirror)

Sat. December 18, 2009
SPEAKERS at a symposium organised by the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS) in Accra have called for a definite policy to ensure that an appreciable number of doctors accept postings to the rural communities.
They noted that without a clear national decision on the issue, a large number of doctors would continue to stay in the teaching and regional hospitals while the district hospitals where majority of the people patronised, lacked doctors.
The symposium, which was held on “Residency Training and Needs in the Districts”, was part of the college’s Sixth Annual General and Scientific Meeting. The theme for the three-day event was “Poverty and Health” and was attended by senior health practitioners, health administrators, heads of district health facilities, members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health and other interest groups.
During the presentations by various speakers, it came out that while district hospitals in the Greater Accra Region had an average of seven doctors per hospital, districts in the three northern regions had one doctor each and two or three doctors each for rest of the districts in country.
Members of the Parliament Select Committee on Health led by its chairman, Dr Mustapha Ahmed, attended the symposium and made contributions. The other members present were Dr Richard Anane, MP for Bantama; Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, MP for Manhyia, and Dr Kofi Asare, MP for Akwatia.
Presenting a paper on “Teacher’s Experience”, Professor J. K Aquaye of the Department of Haematology, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), called for the establishment of health training institutions at the district levels to train personnel who would be willing to work in the districts after their training.
He also called for the creation of a permanent standing committee of all stakeholders in healthcare delivery, to deliberate on the matter of doctors in the districts.
The Rector of the college, Professor Paul Nyame, suggested that doctors in Ghana should be bonded just as persists elsewhere so that they would spend some years working for the country after schooling.
He pointed out that local government should be involved in the training of doctors for the districts, adding that the district assemblies should have ownership of the institutions when they were established.
For his part, the Director of Human Resource Division of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr S. Anemana, said some of the issues which discouraged doctors from working in the districts included the volume of work; abandonment of such doctors by the health authorities; no career development; loss of ‘locum’ and lack of mentoring.
Others are no continuing medical education (CME); no salary differentials; poor accommodation and no good schools for children of doctors.
Dr Anemana suggested better conditions of service for those who accepted postings to rural communities and continue to stay and work there, adding that it would motivate them to stay and perform.
Other speakers were Dr P.E. Karikari, the Medical Director of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, and Dr C. Tasiame, Member, Radiology.
They spoke on the “Teaching Hospital’s Experience” and the “Resident’s Experience” respectively.
At the end of the symposium, it came out that for doctors to accept postings to the rural communities, the government should play its role by providing the needed logistics at the health facilities as well as incentives for doctors.

Educate Ghanaians on E-voting-Dan Lartey

Sat December 18, 2009

GHANAIANS must adequately be educated on the principles and functions of electronic voting if the country decides to use it for the 2012 Election, the Leader and Founder of the Great Consolidated People’s Party (GCPP), Mr Dan Lartey, has advocated.
Mr Lartey, who had returned from a trip abroad, said as much as his party was in support of such an innovation, there was a need for care to be taken so as to avoid any individual or group of persons to take undue advantage of such a move.
The veteran politician, who was reacting to media reports of the need for the country to use biometric system of voting in future elections, observed that the operations of electronic voting, although a modern system, could not be said to be foolproof.
To some politicians, biometric system of voter's registration is a key mechanism against multiple voting and impersonation in Ghana's electoral system.
In a statement made available to the Daily Graphic last Wednesday, Mr Lartey explained that the operations and workings of electric voting system should not be taken on trust, adding that the functions and the principles upon which such an equipment was designed, must be made known so that the nation fully understood its workings before it was introduced.
He pointed out that no matter what system was used for elections, some political parties, desirous to cheat or rig and win elections, could employ various tricks, including importation of people from other regions to register in another region for the benefit of a particular candidate or a political party.
“There are also some people who indulge in double and even triple registration in several constituencies in the same region,” he stated.
Mr Lartey said with these in mind, the Electoral Commission (EC) should be in a better position to recommend some peculiar specifications for the manufacturer to consider and incorporate if the country decided to go that way, adding that whatever equipment Ghana acquired for the programme should be capable of detecting multiple registration within districts or regions and also between regions.
He also called for a vigorous and extensive training of EC officials in whose hands the equipment would be entrusted and pointed out that the Commission must have permanent staff at every polling station for continuous registration.
Mr Lartey said to ensure voters understanding of the proposed system, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) should be adequately resourced to embark on nationwide education among the citizenry.
He pointed out that if Ghana was to ensure the integrity of the electoral system which could stand the test of time by pre-empting many of the troubles that had derailed many democracies on the African continent, then the country would have to move beyond the present system where there existed many challenges.
He identified multiple registration by some voters as one of the major challenges that had faced the country’s electoral system over the years, and appealed to the EC to do all it could to stop such practice.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Health of poor communities impact negatively on national indices (Mirror)

Sat December 12, 2009
THE Minister of Health, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, has stated that conditions of people in poor communities impact negatively on the health indices of the country.
He said that was so because those communities usually had more than the average share of morbidity and mortality.
He said for example, the last Demographic and Health Survey showed that 78 per cent of Ghanaian children suffered from anaemia of some sort, adding that “this is simply unacceptable”.
Addressing participants at the three-day Annual General and Scientific Meeting of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons in Accra on Wednesday, Dr Kunbuor said the health implications of such communities, especially urban slums like Sodom and Gomorrah were grave.
He said the disease profile of the country also showed evidence of marked poverty and explained that that was characterised by a high incidence of communicable diseases with malaria being the highest cause of illness and death, especially among children under five years of age.
“Vaccine-preventable diseases also continue to exact a high toll among children, while conditions related to or aggravated by malnutrition rank among the highest causes of death in all age groups”, he pointed out.
Dr Kunbuor said apart from the increase in communicable diseases in the urban slums, those communities became breeding grounds for drug-resistant ineffective agents.
Touching on the theme for the two-day event: “Poverty and Health”, he said in Ghana about 40 per cent of the total population was estimated to be living in poverty with nearly one quarter of the population living in extreme poverty.
The health minister said five of the 10 regions in Ghana had more than 40 per cent of their population living in poverty, adding that in the three northern regions, that ranged between 65 and 85 per cent.
He said he raised the points to demonstrate the intricate link between poverty and health and to recognise the need to develop large-scale, cost-effective social protection programmes that would enable the poor to make choices that do not undermine their current or future well-being.
He said the government was aware of the situation and had, therefore, introduced clear policies that would leverage the effects of poverty to a large extent.
He mentioned the proposed one-time premium payment under the Health Insurance Scheme, the continuation of the free maternity services and the scale-up of the close-to-client service strategy as some of the policies aimed at reducing the effects of poverty at the community level.
In his welcoming address, the Rector of the College of Physicains and Surgeons, Professor Paul Kwame Nyame, appealed to the government to, as a matter of urgency, appoint the council for the college to ensure effective supervision of the activities of the college.
Prof. Nyame observed that it was time for the college to have a Code of Conduct with a judicial process for Fellows and Members, to protect the credibility of the college and its autonomy, adding that “this, and a Legislative Instrument (LI) have been held in abeyance because of the, hopefully, imminent review of the Law of the College”.
Touching on the operations of the college, he said it admitted 85 new residents into various specialities which included Family Medicine; Laboratory Medicine; Internal Medicine; Dental Surgery; Emergency Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology; General Surgery; Psychiatry; Public Health and Radiology, among others.
The President of the outgoing council, Professor Samuel Ofosu-Amaah, said the year 2009 had been an unusual one for the college because the Ministry the Health wrote to dissolve the council for the college but had failed to appoint a new council.
He reiterated the call for a new council to be appointed since without a council, the college could not operate as required by law.
As part of the event, 17 new Fellows were admitted to the college in addition to 65 specialists who passed out from the college.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The nurses’ pledge; any significance? (Feature)

AS part of the opening of the 12th biennial national delegates' conference and launch of a golden jubilee anniversary of the Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA) in Accra on Thursday, October 29, a large number of smartly dressed nurses were made to recite a pledge.
Although that was not the first time I was listening to the nurses' pledge, this time round, I took particular interest in the content of the pledge
Looking all hearty and in high spirit, the nurses recited the pledge which reads:
“I acknowledge that the special training I have received has prepared me as a responsible member of the community.
I promise to care for the sick with all the skill I possess, no matter what their race, creed, colour, politics, or social status, sparing no effort to conserve life, alleviate pain and promote health.
I promise to respect at all times the dignity of the patient in my charge.
I promise to hold in confidence all personal information entrusted to me.
I promise to keep my knowledge and skill at the professional level and to give the highest standard of nursing care to my patients.
I promise to carry out intelligently and loyally medical instructions given to me.
I promise that my personal life shall at all times bring credit to my profession.
I promise to share in the responsibility of other professionals and citizens for promoting health locally, nationally and internationally.
So help me God”.
As they solemnly recited these words, I asked myself how many of the nurses present at the ceremony attached any significance to the words in the pledge? The reason for that question was because the word 'promise' run through almost all the lines of the pledge.
A Collins Cobuild Advanced Learner's English Dictionary I laid my hands on defined a promise as “a statement which you make to a person in which you say that you will definitely do something or give him something”. In the same dictionary, a pledge is explained to mean a serious promise made to somebody.
At this juncture, anybody who is conversant with activities in our health facilities will understand why I took interest in the nurses' pledge.
Day in day out, people who visit our health facilities, especially the public ones come with complaints of impatience, disrespect and sometimes plain insults from some of our nurses. The most affected are those insured under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) who often complain through letters to the editor and phone calls to radio stations. What they usually complain about is the long time they spend at the Out-Patients Department (OPD) and how their complaints attract insults from some nurses, no matter their condition .
That is not to say there are no good nurses in our country; far from that. There abound in our midst very good ones. Those are the ones who receive the sick and the wounded with open arms, soothe their pains, comfort them and nurse them back to life. They love their job no matter the odds and make efforts to put aside the frustrations they face as nurses in developing countries and perform perfectly well for the sake of mankind.
In the same breath, there are very bad nurses. These are so bad that some people prefer to engage in self medication instead of facing them in the hospitals. They constantly frown and scream at the sick at the least provocation. To them, the sick deserve no respect and no matter their ages, they are to be treated anyhow unless they are ready to part with some cedis in some cases.
Addressing the participants at the GRNA’s conference, a lecturer at the Central University College, Mrs Jane Aba Mansa Okra, said all over the world, nurses are the key to health care delivery.
On the theme: “Nurses, Meeting Communities’ Expectation with Passion Through Innovations”, Mrs Okra, who is also a nurse , defined passion as “an intense overpowering emotions or eagerness; outreaching of the mind towards some special object. She explained that was what nursing was about and that was the spirit which propelled the founders of nursing to leave their comfort zones to bring life back to dying souls.
To her, nursing had changed its original meaning. She therefore took the opportunity to appeal to her colleagues to see the conference theme as a wake up call.
“We seem to have forgotten our mandate. But when we chose nursing as a profession, we decided on life that is dedicated to selfless service to others. Our profession is one of service and we all knew from the beginning. There is great significance found in serving others. When you give, you get so much back. Our profession is service driven; we serve others, including our patients, their families and communities”, she pointed out.
For her part,the President of the GRNA, Mrs Alice D. Asare-Allotey, hit the nail right on the head when she said in spite of a number of innovations the health sector had introduced to improve health care, most of their clients and patients seemed dissatisfied with the care that nurses gave them.
She went on to state that “the question most people ask these days, including me, is what has become of basic nursing care? Is it so hard for us to put ourselves in the place of a patient or a family member? Is poor basic nursing care not perhaps one of the reasons why family members constantly want to see whether their patient is fine? Perhaps they do not trust our nursing care and in this pursuit, they make a nuisance of themselves?”
Mrs Asare-Allotey went further to ask if “patients are destined to get more critically ill in hospitals, contracting airborne diseases, urinary tract infection or any other infection just because we have become so negligent and desensitised as to what basic human needs entail, for example care, comfort, a clean mouth and body, warmth, physical and emotional respect and dignity among others”.
Coming from people who themselves are nurses, one could expect that those few nurses who have made people to have a negative impression about the profession and the people in it would change for the better for benefit of all of us.
It is also worthy to note that the problem does not lie with nurses alone but other health workers.
In a recent article to the Health Page of the Daily Graphic, Dr Maxwell Osei-Ampofo of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, wrote that a “Critical observation had revealed that only a small percentage of health care workers at health institutions actually stay at work and do what they are paid to do.
“My enquiries revealed that these few are either God fearing, self actualised, patriotic or are nearing their grave and would want to do some right before exiting”.
He went on to state that among the majority, his searchlight caught people who were lazy, de-motivated, and incompetent and those who were just greedy.
These , according to Dr Osei-Ampofo, were the ones who would be seen reading all the newspapers on the stand at the work place, tuning in from one radio of television station to the other, talking on end on the mobile phone or land line, always late for their shift, yelling at patients and relatives, taking twice the time for an activity which otherwise should have been completed in a twinkling of an eye, as well as those who spend a maximum of one hour at the public health institutions and the rest of their time at their “locums”.
After touching on what the government on its part failed to do for health workers which to some extent demotivated them, Dr Osei-Ampofo went on to advise all to build a system that works and which all will have confidence in “because who knows who would have the next heart attack? Or who knows whose mother, wife, sister, aunt or daughter will need blood from an empty blood bank after child birth? Or who would be involved in the next car crash or thermal burns?”
Next time our nurses meet and decide to say their pledge, it will be better if each one of them takes his or her time to digest the words and allow them to sink. Who knows, that might help to change the minds and attitudes of those who became nurses by accident.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reha Medical Supply assists patient (Health Page)

REHA Medical Supply Ghana Limited, a privately owned enterprise has responded to an appeal by a-27-year old woman, Ms Vida Ahodetor to successfully undergo an implantation of artificial hip joints at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH).
Ms Ahodetor, who is a sickle-cell patient, had been suffering from a bone disease known in medical field as Arthrosis over the years and was operated upon in September, 2009, at the cost of US$ 10,000.
In an interview in Accra, she said she suffered from severe pains in both hips and therefore had to go to the KBTH for treatment.
Ms Ahodetor said when surgery was recommended she realised that she could not afford but with the assistance from Reha, she was operated upon first on February 3, 2009 and again on September 23, 2009.
She recalled that the problem started when she began having severe pain in her hip some years back, but never took it seriously because she thought it was a normal crises which she usually go through being a sickler.
She continued that the pain was on and off and any time she reported to a health facility she was given medication but realised that there was no improvement in her condition.
Ms Ahodetor said she was later diagnosed with the condition and advised to go for surgery immediately.
Unfortunately, the patient who had just completed training as a beautician at the FC Beauty Clinic said she could not afford the cost of the treatment neither could her father, a teacher.
Through an appeal for funds in the media, Reha Medical Supply Ghana Limited responded to help her go through total hip replacement in both hips.
She added that the response led to prompt provision of the specified-implant artificial hips to the tune of US$ 10,000.
Ms Ahodetor together with her father have expressed gratitude to Reha for saving her life and also offering great relief to her.
Her father, Mr Gabriel Ahodetor who was overwhelmed with the success of the surgery, and the kindness of Reha , said her daughter who was the third born was diagnosed with sickle cells at age two.
He explained that the family did not know how serious it was until last four years when she was diagnosed of having serious problem with the hips and she was told she needed an artificial replacement of the hip.
He disclosed that through the publications in the media, the Executive Chairman of Reha, Mr Harry Sintim Aboagye decided to help her daughter.
"We are very grateful and we want to use this medium to show our appreciation to him, the management of the company and the company’s principals in Switzerland for the wonderful assistance given us”, Mr Ahodetor pointed out.
Medical experts explain Arthrosis as the most frequent illness that affects people beginning at the age of 40.
Both males and females are affected and causes various types of pain making it difficult to create movement in the articulation.
Its beginning is gradual and subtle. The first symptom observed is pain that tends to worsen with the progress of time.
All the symptoms result in an increase of instability of the articulation, contracture, muscular spasm and permanent local pain. For example, if the affected articulations are the legs, then it will result in lameness.

Santa Maria accident: pay-loader driver is dead (Back Page)

THE driver of the pay-loader vehicle which crashed into a storey building at Santa Maria on Sunday night is reported to have died of his injuries.
The 50-year-old Kofi Kaya, who the police said hailed from the Ajumako area in the Central Region, reportedly died at 9.30 am on Monday, a day after the accident.
That brought to two the number of people who lost their lives in that crash.
The other deceased was 25-year-old Paul Akadaana, a kebab seller who operated his kebab joint at the spot where the accident occurred and who died at 3.00 am on Monday.
The Commander of the Odorkor Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) of the Ghana Police Service, ASP Felix Toya, said two other victims who sustained serious injuries were still in hospital but two others had been treated and discharged.
ASP Toya said among the two people who were still on admission was the driver’s mate whose name he could not readily provide.
After the long vehicle which was carrying a caterpillar grader crashed into the storey building on Sunday night, eyewitnesses told the Daily Graphic that the now deceased persons had their legs severed in addition to other injuries.
When the Daily Graphic team got to the crash scene around 8.30 am on Monday, the vehicle with registration number GT 857 W had its front part stuck in the first floor of the building which housed a number of stores. Close to it was a blue-black BMW saloon car with registration number GW2252 T, which was also badly damaged.
ASP Toya in an earlier interview said the driver’s mate whose condition had stabilised told the police that the vehicle suffered a brake failure.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pay-loader crushes khebab seller to death (Back Page)

A pay-loader which was carrying a caterpillar grader last Sunday night crashed into a storey building at Santa Maria, a suburb in Accra, killing one person and seriously injuring four others.
The dead, a 25-year-old khebab seller, popularly refered to as Abochie Paul by neighbours, was said to have had both legs severed and an object stuck in his eye.
An eye-witness, Yaw Asiedu, said when the late Paul realised that his two legs where cut off after he had been pulled out from the pay-loader he asked whether it was a dream. Few minutes after he asked that question, Asiedu said Paul allegedly tried to commit suicide by hitting his head hard on the ground but was stopped by onlookers who conveyed him to the hospital where he later died.
Among the injured were the driver of the pay-loader, his mate and two passers -by at the time of the accident.
When a team from the Daily Graphic got to the crash scene around 8.30 am yesterday, the pay-loader with registration number GT 857 W and its front part was still stuck in the first floor of the building which housed a number of stores. Close to it was a blue-black BMW saloon car with registration number GW2252 T, which was badly dented.
A large crowd had also gathered at the accident scene making driving on that portion of the road which was a sharp curve and close to the Santa Maria Last Stop difficult. Among the crowd were owners of some of the shops which were affected by the accident.
In a telephone interview, the Commander of the Odorkor Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU), ASP Felix Toya, said the driver’s mate whose condition had stabilised told the police that the vehicle suffered a brake failure.
He said the driver tried hard to control the steering but failed when the vehicle got to curve and, therefore, crashed into the building.
At the time of filing this report, the driver was said to be in critical condition at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
Another victim, a young hairdresser, who residents said had her graduation party some hours before the accident, had all her front teeth removed in addition to a broken leg.
According to residents that portion of the road had seen a lot of accidents, some very serious.

Babies saved from HIV infection• St Dominic Hospital leads the way ( The Mirror Front Page)

Sat December 5, 2009
THE St Dominic Hospital at Akwatia in the Eastern Region has made history for being the first health facility in Ghana to prevent the highest number of children from being infected with HIV from their HIV-positive mothers.
Reports from the hospital indicate that only one out of 32 babies whose mothers were HIV positive and were, therefore, put on treatment under the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme, tested positive to the virus.
The figure represents 96.9 per cent of the children whose mothers received the intervention.
The Head of the Public Health Department of the hospital, Dr Nana Owusu-Ensaw, said as part of the preventive measures, mothers of the children were given special medication during labour and their babies placed under formula feeding for 18 months.
He said that was to prevent the children from being breast-fed, which could have exposed them to HIV infection from their infected mothers.
HIV infection from an HIV-positive mother to her child during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding is called mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) and currently health workers the world over are trying hard to prevent as many babies as possible from getting infected by their mothers.
In an interview with The Mirror, Dr Owusu-Ensaw said the PMTCT programme was established at the hospital in 2005 to educate all pregnant mothers on HIV and AIDS due to the high prevalence of mother-to-child infection of HIV in the district and the country as a whole.
He explained that from July 2007 to May 2008, 62 children born to mothers who were given special medication during labour were put under monitoring for 18 months.
Dr Owusu-Ensaw said out of the 62 children, 32, which stood for 51.6 per cent, could be traced, while 30, representing 48.4 per cent, could not be traced and were, therefore, not monitored.
He said after the 18-month period, the 32 children who were traced were tested for HIV and that was when it came out that only one had the virus.
“That means 31 of them, which represents 96.9 per cent, were negative, while the remaining one, which is 3.1 per cent, was positive,” he stressed.
When asked to explain further, Dr Owusu-Ensaw said the facility was able to trace those 32 children because they were placed under formula feeding which was given to them by the Public Health Unit of the hospital free of charge.
“The above results indicate that PMTCT works and we hereby encourage all pregnant women to undergo HIV testing to know their status so that interventions can be put in place so save their babies,” he said.
Dr Owusu-Ensaw said a challenge involved the high cost of Lactogen for formula feeding, noting that one baby consumed about six tins of Lactogen a month.
He also said monitoring the mothers was expensive in terms of the transportation cost involved and expressed concern over the issue of pregnant women who gave wrong addresses for fear of stigmatisation, which resulted in the inability to trace them.
That, according to the doctor, was why some babies could not be traced for final testing after the 18-month period.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Protect yourself against HIV - Dr El-Adas tells youth (Health Page)

GHANA joined the international community to commemorate this year’s World AIDS Day, which fell yesterday, with a piece of advice from the acting Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), Dr Angela El-Adas, to the youth to stay away from activities that could expose them to HIV infection.
She said currently, HIV prevalence among the youth was 1.9 per cent, which was higher than the national prevalence of 1.7 per cent.
“I wish to sound a clarion call, particularly to our young people, as the custodians of this country's future, to take the lead in abstaining from sex until marriage, abstain from casual sex, and reduce concurrent sexual partners. Otherwise, remember to use condoms correctly and consistently,” she stressed.
Commemorated on December 1, each year, the World AIDS Day is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic, caused by the spread of HIV infection.
The theme for this year’s commemoration, “Universal Access and Human Rights” has been chosen worldwide to address the critical need to protect human rights and attain universal access for all, to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
Led by the GAC, the national event was celebrated with a special durbar at the Jackson’s Park in Koforidua, and that was in addition to similar events held at all regional, district and community levels throughout the country.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the acting Director-General of the GAC, Dr El-Adas said the commemoration was also “a call to action for all of us, especially those of us in authority; the political, traditional and religious leadership of this country, to help remove or revise laws, activities and cultural practices that discriminate against persons living with HIV, especially women and other marginalised groups”.
She explained that as a country, Ghana had made some progress in responding to the various challenges posed by the disease, and currently enjoys a relatively lower prevalence (1.7 per cent) than our neighbouring countries.
Dr El-Adas, however, pointed out the epidemic continued to pose a serious threat to national development, adding that “we need to redouble our efforts towards achieving total success in dealing with the epidemic”.
She stressed that in 2006, Ghana committed itself to achieving universal access to quality and comprehensive HIV services by 2010, but one major challenge, currently, was uptake of services, especially with reference to counselling and testing services.
She said in spite of all these efforts, records indicated that less than 10 per cent of Ghanaians knew their HIV status, adding that the aim of this year’s celebration, therefore, was to aggressively embark on activities that encouraged people to know their HIV status.
Dr El-Adas also pointed out that each Ghanaian had a duty to the country to be at the centre of “The Campaign”, aimed at reducing HIV stigma and discrimination in order to encourage accessing counselling and testing services, as well as treatment services that were abundantly available.
“Remember, even you could be infected and not know it. Get tested! Know your status and keep it. This is an urgent call, and the time to act is now,” she stated.
In Ghana, the objective for the celebration of the World AIDS Day, as spelt out by the GAC, is to enhance and advocate leadership and accountability in addressing the HIV epidemic in Ghana at all levels by engaging all stakeholders in decision-making at the national, regional, district, community, family and individual levels.
To achieve the desired objective, the GAC launched a month-long programme on November 2, 2009 in Accra, where the Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana, Mr John Dramani Mahama, called on Ghanaians to rededicate themselves to the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Some of the programmes organised by the GAC during the month November included provision of counselling and testing services at major market centres around the country, sensitisation exercises, a mini concert and candle light processions, special counselling and testing session for media practitioners, in conjunction with the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) and special lectures on HIV, AIDS and human rights.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

GCB opens 155th branch (Business)

THE Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) yesterday opened its 155th branch at Dansoman in Accra.
Established in 1953, the bank has the objective, among other things, to make banking accessible to all Ghanaians throughout the breadth and length of the country.
At the opening ceremony, the General Manager of Retail Banking Division of GCB, Ms Joyce Attah-Krah, said the opening of the branch was part of the bank’s decision to achieve its objective of serving the people better.
She said GCB had over the years adhered to that objective religiously and had on some occasions overruled the motive of profit just to sustain and maintain branches in certain areas.
She said that explained the reason why the bank stayed put and rendered services in areas where some banks folded up and closed their doors to the public because they were not making much profit.
Ms Attah-Krah pointed out that “ GCB has stood faithful because we do not discriminate, ours is service to all, and that is why we serve Ghanaians better”.
She stressed that GCB had over the years seen transformation, adding that the bank migrated from manual operations a little over 10 years ago and was constantly improving on its technology.
Touching on some challenges the bank had been facing as they tried to serve the public, Ms Attah-Krah said the bank’s customers had sometimes been subjected to undue delays and breaks in service at the banking halls, a situation she observed did not go down well customers.
She took the opportunity to apologise to the customers who found themselves at banking halls during those difficult times, and gave the assurance that management was making efforts to ensure that services were delivered promptly and efficiently.
In her welcoming address, the acting Area Manager for Dansoman, Mrs Aku Macbruce, gave the assurance to prospective customers that the new branch would offer all the services of GCB, adding that these would include local and international express money transfer, Internet banking, trade services and micro businesses.
The chairman for the function, who is also a sub-chief within the Dansoman Traditional Council, Nii Quarshie I, advised residents of Dansoman and beyond to patronise the products of the branch to encourage the management of GCB to do more.

Agyekum pledges open door policy (Politics)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

THE newly elected New Patriotic Party (NPP) Constituency Chairman for Korle Klottey, Mr Dan Yaw Agyekum, has promised an open door administration which will enable every member of the party to have a say.
He has therefore called on all party members in the constituency to join him in building a formidable branch within the Greater Accra Region.
Mr Agyekum who was elected at a constituency election held recently told the Daily Graphic in Accra that, he together with the other executive members, would ensure that everything that went on at the constituency level was done in a transparent way.
He also urged other members of the party who stood for positions in the constituency but lost to rally behind the elected members for the sake of the party.
Mr Agyekum, a 48-year-old businessman, said there was a lot of work to be done towards election 2012, adding that what members of the NPP needed to do currently was to join forces to ensure a massive victory which would be difficult for their opponents to dispute.
He said he would go ahead to fulfil his campaign promise of providing a furnished office for the constituency, where party members could visit when the need arose.
The chairman also pledged to continue with the good work which was begun by the past chairman, adding that he would be able to succeed only if the rest of the party members in the constituency supported him.
He took the opportunity to advise all members of the NPP throughout the country to remain focused in readiness for the struggle ahead.