Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Former DCE of Pru denies allegations

THE former District Chief Executive of Pru District, Alhaji Iddrisu Gariba, has denied leaving a debt of GH¢32,753.22 which he allegedly withdrew from the accounts of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) in the district and failed to refund.
He said at the time of handing over, the outstanding debt owed the NYEP by the district assembly was GH¢18,000.00 and not GH¢32,753.22 as quoted by a Daily Graphic report written by Samuel Duodo.
Reacting to the Daily Graphic report, Alhaji Gariba said all money borrowed from any other sources by the Pru District Assembly was done in the name of the assembly and used by the assembly and not for his personal activities.
The story indicated that NYEP in the Pru District of the Brong Ahafo Region was near collapse following the former District Chief Executive (DCE) for the area, Alhaji Iddrisu Gariba’s refusal to refund Gh¢32,753.22, which he allegedly withdrew from the District NYEP Account during his tenure as DCE.
Alhaji Gariba said he had nothing to refund and added that the current DCE, whom he suspected was the source of the story, wanted to suggest that the Pru District’s share of the Common Fund was paid into his private bank accounts.
The former DCE said by that report, the reporter showed his ignorance of the district assembly system and how things were done, adding that why was he was singled out in the story for wrongdoing since all such transactions were carried out by the District Coordinating Director (DCD) and the District Finance Officer (DFO), in the name of the assembly.
Alhaji Gariba showed a copy of the handover notes which contained the said GHç18,000.00 as outstanding debt to the Daily Graphic. It was received and signed by a District Coordinating Director (DCD), Mr E. Frimpong Manso.
Alhaji Gariba said he did not understand why the assembly’s borrowing from the NYEP should be an issue and explained that the Pru District Assembly, like many other assemblies and government agencies occasionally borrowed from other sources when they were hard-pressed for funds. Later, they refunded these.
He said the money was used for projects which the people in the district needed urgently.
“I am sure very soon the DCE will find himself in the same situation where he would have to borrow from some sources to undertake certain projects which needed urgent attention”, he stated.
The former DCE cited areas such as Bankamba, Bomboden, Kunkunde, Adjanterewa where children attended school under trees and thatch structures and, therefore, needed to be provided with pavilions.
Alhaji Gariba said the DCE was comfortably using the assets of the assembly so he should also accept the liabilities and find ways of settling them, adding that “when his tenure gets to the end, he will also leave debts for others to pay”.
Alhaji Gariba said the Pru District was one of the newly created districts which lacked many social amenities so the assembly made it a policy to develop it as fast as it could.
“Whiles the current DCE is blaming me for leaving so much debt for him to pay, he at the same took pictures of many of the projects we put in place for his 2010 calendar, forgetting that those were some of the things we spent the funds on”, he pointed out.
Alhaji Gariba also stated that it was also not correct that because the assembly borrowed from the NYEP accounts, employees of the programme had not been paid for months, adding that those employees were paid directly through the banks but not through funds sent to the various offices for administrative purposes.
On the issue that he had refused to respond to letters written to him by the assembly to answer why he had refused to refund the money, he challenged the DCE to come out with copies of such letters for the public to see.
He expressed his displeasure with the attitude of Daily Graphic’s reporter, who he said did not contact him for his side of the story before going public.
“It is unfortunate that people are quick to tarnish the image of others without giving them the chance to defend themselves”, he stressed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sanctions will ensure quality health care-NHIA

THE National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) says its decision to sanction offending service providers and some individuals is not to tarnish their image, but to ensure that safe and quality health care is offered to the people of Ghana.
It said as the authority tried to encourage those who committed genuine mistakes in their operations to effect the necessary changes, those who indulged in criminality in order to gain from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) would be dealt with according to the law.
The Deputy Director, Operations of the NHIA, Mr Anthony Gingong, told the Daily Graphic in Accra that the authority would continue to monitor and evaluate the activities of accredited service providers under the NHIS till quality service was assured.
He stressed that the NHIA had the responsibility to manage the NHIS on behalf of all Ghanaians and, therefore, could not afford to allow the scheme to collapse.
The Deputy Director of Operations said there existed problems with many of the health care providers because the method used to engage them initially was an open one because it did not follow any guidelines, adding that many of them were accredited based on recommendations from some existing professional bodies without any standard guidelines.
He pointed out that now that the authority had come out with a written guidelines, it had to step in to sanction some of them because in some cases, they failed to do the right thing even after they had been provided with a working manual to enable them to effect changes.
He said monitoring and evaluation so far conducted revealed that some of them, for example, did not have the required number of health personnel and adequate treatment facilities, to enable them to render effective health care to subscribers.
“In one of the facilities that we visited, there was only one place of convenience for everybody, including men, women and children,” he pointed out.
Mr Gingong reiterated that some of the cases were criminal in nature and, therefore, needed to be investigated further and went ahead to cite an instance where a hospital charged a scheme for performing a Caesarian operation on a woman but later checks revealed that the said woman was only five months pregnant.
He observed that in almost all the cases, when those service providers who tried to cheat the system were exposed, they came up with the excuse that it was a mistake.
He took the opportunity to advise those individuals and groups who had made up their minds to wrongfully gain at the expense of the NHIS, to change their attitude since the authority would not allow that to happen.
The NHIA has since August, 2009 sanctioned a number of individuals and service providers who have allegedly misconducted themselves in the Ashanti, Volta and Brong Ahafo regions, where clinical auditing has taken place. Similar exercise is yet to take place in the rest of the regions.
The sanctions took the form of suspension of the affected service providers, interdiction of some NHIA staff and in some cases, the individuals involved were reported to the police.
Cases involving service providers who worked within the public sector or mission hospitals were reported to the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) respectively for appropriate the action to be taken.
Allegations, which, according to Mr Gingong, included wrong prescription, lack of records covering claims, lack of appropriate facilities for effective operation, use of banned drugs, double billing and over-billing, professional misconduct, lack of appropriate health personnel and unhygienic environment, were levelled against the affected service providers.
The alleged offence of the personnel included malfeasance, misappropriation of funds and over-payment of claims, among others.

NHIA lift ban on two hospitals

A three-month suspension which was placed on two hospitals in Kumasi by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) for allegedly indulging in fraudulent activities has now been lifted.
The two hospitals are Atasemanso and County, which were providing services under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in parts of the metropolis.
They were suspended between August 14 and November 13, 2009 on the allegations that they were involved in a number of wrongdoing including double billing, over-billing, irrational prescriptions, non-adherence to tariffs, poor quality care and unsupported claims, among others.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic on what the NHIA was doing about the case since the November 13, 2009 deadline had elapsed, the Deputy Director of Operations of the NHIA, Mr Anthony Gingong said the two hospitals had made the necessary corrections and the authority had therefore, informed them to resume operations from Tuesday January 12, 2010.
Mr Gingong said the basis for the suspension was to enable the affected service providers to correct some anomaly identified by the NHIA audit team, a move he said the two hospitals had so far made.
According to the Deputy Director of Operation, the position of the authority was to ensure that after the three month period, an affected health care facility would do the right, else the period for suspension would be extended to another three months.
He said it was unfortunate that some of the accredited health facilities under the NHIS were taking the health of the people for granted adding that the NHIA would not allow such things to continue.
He reiterated that where an accredited facility committed a mistake which could be corrected, the authority would suspend them till such a time that the needed correction had been made but when it bordered on criminality, the law would take its own course.
At a press conference on August 18, 2009 to announce the suspension in Accra, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NHIA, Mr Sylvester Mensah said the action by the authority was based on the results of investigations carried out by its clinical audit team between March 23 and March 27, 2009.
The sanction, according to Mr Mensah, was provided by the National Health Insurance Act 650 of 2003, which mandated the authority to secure the sustainability of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) through prudent financial administration at all levels.
At the time of the suspension, the two hospitals reportedly appealed against the NHIA’s decision but a review by healthcare professionals upheld the findings and decision of the NHIA.
Meanwhile, checks at the two hospitals in Kumasi at the story was being made indicated that the NHIA was yet to formally inform the health facilities to resume caring for NHIS subscribers.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ghana deserves a better mental health law. (Mirror)

Jan. 23, 2010

WHEN the death of Georgina Akweley Pipson and her five children hit the airwaves, my mind quickly went to the former Chief Psychiatrist, Dr J.B. Asare, the current one, Dr Akwasi Osei and also Mrs Estelle Matilda Appiah, Director of Legislative Drafting at the Ministry of Justice as well as the many other personalities who have over the years tried so hard to get a better mental health law for Ghana.
Knowing how passionate these individuals are in their quest to get better mental health care for Ghana, I knew for sure that they will definitely feel let down by the death of six vulnerable people within hours. Yes, they were all vulnerable because the mother was sick and could not reason properly and the children, as innocent as they were, accepted what their mother offered them though it was deadly.
Like other developing countries, many mentally ill people in Ghana are sent to pastors at prayer camps or traditional healers for treatment instead of hospitals, where the right diagnoses and treatment could be provided. There is also the issue of a lack of adequate care even if one is sent to the hospital.
That can be said because of the fact that currently Ghana’s state of the psychiatric services is said to be comprised of only 1500 beds for admissions in the three public mental hospitals situated in Accra, Pantang and Ankaful, all along the coast. There are also about 40 beds available in regional hospitals and some private clinics nationwide.
Another important issue is that currently, there are less than 10 psychiatrists working for the state for more than 22 million people, whereas, in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, more than 7000 psychiatrists are available for the same population size.
The number of psychiatric nurses provide services to the mentally ill are also nothing to write home about.
To protect the mentally ill against human rights abuses and to improve state services, Ghanaian health professional and advisors have drafted a new Mental Health Bill to replace an outmoded one. The bill, when passed is expected to regulate the treatment of mental illness even by traditionalists and also vastly improve the public psychiatric services.
In spite of its good intentions which it is said to have been commended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Mental Health Bill which started in 2006, has been severely held up. Officials of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital say the bill has seen 10 different drafts since the drafters began to work on it.
As a nation, we have over the years toyed with our mental health services. There have been instances where people who are mentally ill and need our support have been left uncared for to the extent of harming themselves or others. It is a fact that we will need some more funds to be able to implement what the bill contains, but we at least need to start from somewhere so as to save ourselves from the effects of mental illness.
A typical case was when we woke up on January 21, 2010 to hear the story of five children, suspected to have been killed through poisoning at Nyanyano in the Central Region by their own mother, Georgina Akweley Pipson who was an alleged mental patient.
The bodies of the murdered children, Kwaku Osae Asante, 11, Yaw Ofori Asante, nine, Angel Asante, six, Kofi Asante, four, and Esi, one, were deposited at the Police Hospital morgue in Accra and later buried.
The question is, could we as a people have saved Georgina and her five children if we had had a better mental law? The answer is yes.
The new Mental Health Bill, as it stands now, seeks to improve the care of the mentally ill in the country. It will also address human rights abuses suffered by those who have mentally ill patients under their care. The bill addresses decentralisation of mental health care at the community, spiritual and traditional setting and also allows supervision and revision of mental health care practices.
On a number of occasions that I have listened to Dr Akwasi Osei, he had repeated that between 30 to 40 per cent of the population of a country suffered from various forms of mental illness, a situation Ghana could not run away from.
Dr Osei explained that people tended to ignore issues of mental health because they always associated it with those who suffered the severest form of the illness and ignored the commonest ones such as depression and dementia ( disorder impairing a person’s capacity to function normally and safely), which affect many people.
At an advocacy training programme for journalists in Accra late last year, Dr Osei reiterated an earlier call on people in position to effect changes in mental health care since the general public stands to gain when there are better services. The care, which if had been in place, could have protected Georgina and her five children.
That, according to the Chief Psychiatrist, was necessary since mental health was no respector of persons, but could affect any one at a point in his or her lifetime.That, to him, is the reason why Ghana needs better laws to regulate mental health care.
When the new Mental Health Bill is passed, Ghana will have Mental Health Authority under a Mental Health Service, which will be separate from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and that will also ensure that adequate logistics are provided for better health services. There would be a Mental Health Review Tribunal to rule on abuse of rights of mental patients. There will be Visiting Committees to ensure the right things are being done for mental patients as well as availability of Voluntary Treatment and Involuntary Treatment to take care of people with mental illness.
Other conditions under the bill are rights of persons with mental disorder, protection of vulnerable groups who suffer from mental illness and any other condition which the law would prescribe.
Unlike other existing laws on mental health care, the new law will provide for adequate human rights provision, basic human rights, incapacity and human rights, standard of treatment, seclusion and restraint, complaints and treatment management, confidentiality, privacy and autonomy as well as access to information and employment rights.
The bill was sent to the Ministry of Health as far back as 2006. It is now left for it to be sent to Cabinet and then to Parliament for consideration.
According to Dr Osei, although Georgina was given adequate care at the Psychiatric Hospital when she was admitted on three occasions, lack of enough community psychiatric nurses in the country and the breakdown of family support systems, coupled with a lack of a Mental Health Law were contributory factors that led to the unfortunate incident at Nyanyano.
Mental illness is estimated to become the second largest non-communicable disease in the world by 2010, with as many as 154 million people suffering from depression and 121 million suffering from anxiety and stress-related problems around the world, according to statistics of World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to the world body, although mental and behavioural disorders are estimated to be 12 per cent of the global burden disease, majority of countries including Ghana have mental health budgets which constitute less than one per cent of total health expenditure.
So now Georgina is dead and gone, but there are lot more Georginas in our cities, towns, villages and homes who need care but have been ignored because there are no laws to ensure their adequate treatment and survival.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ivorian journalists invites Kufuor

THE leadership of the Organisation of Professional Journalists of Cote d’Ivoire has met former President J. A. Kufuor in Accra and invited him to Cote d’Ivoire before its general election expected to take place this year.
The invitation, which the president of the organisation, Mr AKA Pascal, said had the blessing of the Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo, was to allow Mr Kufuor to interact with the various political leaders in Cote d’Ivoire to ensure peaceful elections.
Mr Pascal said the organisation would appreciate it if the former President of Ghana paid the visit between February 1 and February 16, this year.
Present at the meeting, which took place at the former President’s residence, were the Ivorian Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Ackah Auguste Emmanuel, the First Counsellor at the Ivorian Embassy in Ghana, Mr Agouassey Danho Lelloux Yves, and the Vice-President of the Organisation of Professional Journalists of Cote d’Ivoire, Mr Lebry Francis.
Others were the former Chief of Staff, Mr Kwadwo Okyere Mpiani, Ghana’s former Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire, Mr Kabral Blay Amehere, and former President Kufuor’s Spokesperson, Mr Frank Agyekum.
The presidential election in Cote d'Ivoire, scheduled originally for November 29, 2009, was postponed until February or March 2010.
Civil war broke out in the hitherto peaceful country in 2002, with rebels fighting against the alleged exclusion of people from the north of the country. An uncertain peace deal in 2003 was short-lived but another agreement in March 2007 made rebel leader Guillaume Soro the Prime Minister of a unity government.
In his remarks, Mr Pascal said the organisation decided to invite Mr Kufuor to help in the peace-making efforts before the election process because of his past experience as an African Head of State who successfully ruled his country, as well as his credentials as a lover of democracy.
He said the people of Cote d’Ivoire appreciated the efforts Mr Kufuor made towards peace in their country during his time as a President of Ghana, hence the decision by the journalists to involve him at this crucial moment as they prepared to go to the polls.
For his part, Mr Kufuor said he considered his role in finding peace in Cote d’Ivoire a “role of density”, adding that he began having a special interest in the issues of Cote d’Ivore long before he became President.
He said the late Ivorian leader, Felix Houphout-Boigny, had been his role model, adding that he admired the former leader for his efforts at building a better society for his people.
He recalled the cordial relationship which had existed between him and President Gbagbo from the period he became President of Ghana in 2001, adding that the Ivorian President had always accorded him great respect.
Mr Kufuor took the opportunity to thank the group for having confidence in him and assured them of his willingness to respond positively to their invitation to him to visit their country.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kufuor informed about Naa Mokor’s death

MRS Naa Mokor Busia, the wife of the late former Prime Minister of Ghana, Professor Kofi Abrefa, is dead.
Affectionately called Naa Mokor, the former First Lady in the Second Republic died in her sleep at her Odorkor residence last Sunday, January 17. She was 85.
A delegation, led by the sister of the late Prime Minister, Madam Ama Busia, yesterday formally informed the former President, Mr J.A. Kufuor, and the former Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, at separate meetings in Accra.
The delegation included Professor Abena Busia, Ms Akosua Busia and Mr Nii Bruce, all children of the late First Lady. Also with them were Mr Obeng Busia, Mrs Akua Busia, Mrs Afua Boateng Busia and Mrs Diana Bruce, who are relations to Naa Morkor.
Present at the ceremony were the former Chief of Staff, Mr Kwadwo Mpiani; the General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Ohene Ntow; the immediate past First Lady, Mrs Theresa Kufuor, and other NPP members.
A statement issued earlier in the day by the family of Naa Mokor described her as “daughter, wife, mother, friend and jewel of the nation”.
The statement said the one-week service and celebration would take place at her home at Busia Junction in Accra on Sunday, January 24 at 07.00 hours, adding that details of the funeral would be announced later.
Receiving the sad news, former President Kufuor said Naa Mokor had paid her dues to society as wife of a head of state who supported her husband to serve his people.
He said the late Naa Mokor Busia was a great woman who deserved a befitting burial now that she had been called by her Maker.
Former President Kufuor used the opportunity to comment on the good works of the late Professor Busia, who he said began working towards the development of Ghana from the days of the colonial rulers.
He described him as a dedicated man who although served as a Prime Minister for only two years and three months, was able to leave a mark throughout the country.
Mr Kufuor stated that Professor Busia, being the first African professor, played a major role as a teacher in the Gold Coast and noted that the late Professor did well to get the Department of Sociology established at the University of Ghana, Legon.
He assured the family of the late First Lady of his support at this time of their grief.

EARTH QUAKE HOAX-nation forced to keep vigil (Front page)

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010

RUMOURS of an earthquake hitting Ghana late Sunday night reverberated across the country, prompting millions of people to pour onto the streets and other open spaces for safety.
While no one seems to know the source of the rumour, friends, families and neighbours made phone calls, sent text messages and knocked on doors to send warnings to people to wake up and leave their rooms.
A text message purported to have powered the rumour mill read, "Today's night 12:30 to 3:30 am, COSMIC RAYS entering Earth from Mars. Switch off your mobiles today's night. NASA BBC news, plz pass to all your friends."
The rumour predicted that an earthquake was about to hit the country and advised people to stay out of their rooms to avoid being killed by collapsing buildings.
The streets of Accra were jammed with residents seeking protection from the anticipated earthquake, while frantic phone calls were made to and received from relatives, friends and loved one all over the country warning people to stay away from their rooms.
Albert K. Salia reports that the rumours also stretched the police to their limits as the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Paul Tawiah Quaye, ordered his men out to monitor the situation to prevent criminals from taking advantage of the confusion to strike.
“You do not have to leave things to chance,” he told the Daily Graphic.
From Sowutuom, Lucy Adoma Yeboah reports that the love for fellow human beings manifested when some volunteers took it upon themselves to move from house to house to alert occupants to come out of their rooms to avert danger.
In the early hours of yesterday, almost all residents around Adu Gyamfi School at Sowutuom trooped from their homes to gather at any available space for protection.
That was after some young men who allegedly had the information from relations on their mobile phones decided to alert others in the community.
Among them were men, women, children and the elderly, some of whom had to be helped to come out of their rooms to stay out till day broke when some radio station denied the rumour.
Seth J. Bokpe reports that the Head of the Seismic Monitoring Unit of the Geological Survey Department, Mr Sylvanus Ahulu, discredited the rumour, describing it as a “hoax”.
Mr Ahulu said "earthquakes were unpredictable natural occurrences which cannot be prevented but its impact can be reduced to some extent”.
"If someone had said he had felt it, it was an indication that something might have happened, which then provided the basis for people to leave their buildings so that the after shock or subsequent ones would not affect them," he said.
At Accra New Town, scores of residents went out of their homes around 3 a.m. in response to the scare.
Some residents thronged the streets carrying their mattresses, while others remained in open compounds.
A resident, Gloria Amoani, told the Daily Graphic that she received a phone call from her aunt in Koforidua telling her “to inform my mother that there has been an announcement on radio that an earthquake would hit the country".
An angry Musah Ibrahim said whoever started the rumour "must be prosecuted for deceiving the nation".
Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah reports from New Gbawe, near Accra, that residents spent a greater part of Sunday night in the open, particularly on the streets, for fear of their lives, as a result of reports of an expected earthquake.
When this reporter woke up about 4 a.m., some residents had gathered in groups discussing the issue.
It was pathetic to see a nursing mother with her one-month-old baby sitting by the roadside at the Blue Cross Junction in the cold night.
While this reporter was chatting with the nursing mother, a taxi emerged and suddenly stopped. A passenger dashed out of it and headed towards a storey building nearby.
The passenger began banging the door to the house, apparently to wake up its residents.
The passenger later told the Daily Graphic that he had hired the taxi from Dansoman just to come and wake up his relatives staying in the storey building because all the calls he had made earlier had not gone through.
It was only after an Accra FM station started allaying the fears of residents that the information was not true that they had the courage to go back to their rooms to continue with their sleep.
Henrietta Brocke reports that a Deputy Minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, debunked the rumour, saying, "It is not true; it’s total fabrication."
He said the rumour was just to create panic in the nation, adding that God's blessings were on Ghana and that the country's geographical location was safe, compared to that of other countries.
Mr Ablakwa assured Ghanaians that the government was putting in measures to purchase a new machine for the early detection of any uncertainty that might occur.
"Let us go about our normal duties; nothing will happen in Ghana," he added.
Emmanuel Bonney reports from Kasoa that residents in and around the town poured out onto open spaces after hearing the rumour.
The residents, comprising the elderly and children, said they had received calls from friends and relatives about the impending danger and so they had to take precautionary measures by coming out into the open.
The incident took place between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. While some were seen bare-chested, especially the men, the women were mostly seen in cloth.
Jacob, a resident of the Kasoa High Tension area, said he had to rush outside with his wife and three children.
Rose Hayford Darko reports from Tema that while some residents attributed the rumour to a radio station, others could not give the sources of their information.
Some people became relaxed when some radio stations announced that what was going round was only a rumour and had no substance.
Some residents appealed to the government to help equip the Geological Survey and the Meteorological departments to help them in the performance of their duties.
Majority of residents of the Western Region passed the night on the streets, in parks and open spaces as a result of the rumour, reports Moses Dotsey Aklorbortu from Takoradi.
From Shama through the Twin-City of Sekondi/Takoradi, Axim, Nkroful and other communities along the coast, residents could not sleep as they converged on open places and parks to discuss the Haitian situation, while others prayed to God from 2 a.m. until an announcement from the Regional Co-ordination Council that the rumour was untrue.
In the metropolis, residents were moving from one end to the other in the darkness as the street lights were off, thereby compounding the fears of the people.
A drive through the metropolis about 2:30 a.m. revealed women with their babies firmly tied to their backs standing on the streets in readiness for the unexpected.
The situation became so serious that the Western Regional Police Commander, Alhaji Hamidu Mahama, had to deploy men from the Rapid Deployment Force of the Ghana Police Service to patrol the streets to ensure that thieves did not capitalise on the fear of the people to rob them of their belongings.
Thousands of people in Kumasi woke up from their sleep in the early hours of Monday and poured onto football fields and other safe areas as the rumour went round the city, Kwame Asare Boadu reports.
Reports from other parts of the Ashanti Region speak of similar situations as panicked residents, some half-naked, fled from their homes for safety.
At Asuoyeboa, Tanoso, Bantama, Krofrom, Asafo and other suburbs, frightened residents took over school parks in the early morning darkness.
The Christians among them resorted to prayers, calling on God to save them from the imminent catastrophe.
Coming in the wake of the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti, some residents wailed, not knowing what was to befall them in the next minute.
Reports reaching the Daily Graphic from Breman Kokoso, a town in the Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa District of the Central Region, spoke of people, including children and the elderly, massing up on the main Kokoso-Oda road when they heard of the rumour.
Around 2 a.m. when the people of the town received phone calls from elsewhere about the imminent earthquake, the rsponse was quite spontaneous with almost every resident coming out in their numbers into open spaces.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hoggar clinic denies allegations

THE management of Hoggar Clinic Limited at Akatsi in the Volta Region has denied allegation of malfeasance and professional misconduct in providing services under the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Reacting to claims by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) that it had been sanctioned along with 33 others for professional misconduct, the management of the clinic conceded that it made mistakes but said they were made at the time of the introduction of a new tariff structure.
Addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday, the Medical Director of the Hoggar Clinic, Dr Stephen K. Hoggar, declared that the mistakes were genuine but not peculiar to only the clinic.
The press conference was organised in reaction to media reports in which the NHIA was reported to have sanctioned 34 individuals and service providers under the NHIS in the Volta and Brong Ahafo regions.
The action of the NHIA was part of efforts to ensure the sustenance of the NHIS and Hoggar Clinic was one of the 15 healthcare providers mentioned by the NHIA audit team for alleged professional misconduct and malfeasance.
Dr Hoggar explained that the mistakes which were picked on by the audit team were committed by almost all service providers country-wide because many of the personnel were not familiar with the new tariff structure and, therefore, made mistakes on the claim forms.
Referring to the mistakes, he said it was because of that challenge that in August 2008 a stakeholders’ meeting was organised with the view to educating the service providers on how to handle the new tariff structure.
He pointed out it would have been better if the NHIA audit team had waited for appropriate responses to some of the queries raised, since the Akatsi District Health Insurance Scheme had already identified the problem and communicated to the clinic accordingly.
"Those mistakes were not being made by only Hoggar Clinic Limited, or the Akatsi District for that matter, but throughout the whole country," he stressed.
Dr Hoggar said he could not speak for the other health service providers who were mentioned in the report but what transpired within the Akatsi District was that claims to the scheme's office were always vetted and the findings communicated to the providers for the right thing to be done.
He provided two letters from the Akatsi DHIS office dated December 15, 2008 and March 25, 2009 which talked about mistakes in some of the claims and measures being used to have the correct amount to be paid to the clinic, respectively.
He also expressed surprise that the NHIA audit team made its findings public before communicating them to the management of the clinic, adding that the leader of the team also refused to give him (Dr Hoggar) audience when he wanted to explain himself to the leader on his way from Accra to Akatsi.
The medical director said there was no way he could use his clinic to cheat a scheme he had personally helped to nurture in the district right from the time that the NHIS was introduced.
He said it would have saved both the NHIA and the clinic a lot of problems if the appropriate auditing procedure had been followed, instead of a situation where an institution which had been accused of wrongdoing was allowed to respond.
"They only wrote to us after they had gone public with the findings," Dr Hoggar complained.

Take fire safety measures seriously

Sat. January 16, 2010
THE Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) has asked institutions and individuals to take fire safety and preventive measures seriously because the service does not have the capacity and equipment to combat all fires in the event of their outbreak.
The Dangme West District Fire Officer, Mr Courage K. Ametewee, who gave the advice, made reference to the fire which engulfed the 10-storey building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Accra on October 21, 2009 and said when the incident occurred, the GNFS marshalled all its resources to the site but that could not save the building because of serious challenges.
Addressing a day’s workshop for fire and peace volunteers drawn from communities around Dodowa and Ayikuma in the Dangme West District of the Greater Accra Region, Mr Ametewee said it was always better to prevent the outbreak of a fire than to take chances with the hope that that fire could be put out.
The workshop, which was scheduled to be replicated in the remaining zones within the district, was held by the district office of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and the Dangme West District Assembly.
Topics treated were the concept of conflict and conflict management; the concept of peace and the attributes of a peace maker; fire and fire safety, as well as education on influenza pandemic H1N1 (swine flu).
Touching on fire fighting, Mr Ametewee said firemen usually depended on available fire fighting equipment in times of fire, adding that there were situations when although firemen would be available, they might not be in the position to completely fight the fire, depending on its intensity and firemen’s accessibility to the source of fire.
He, however, said personnel of the service were doing all that they could under the circumstances to save lives and property and advised the public to offer them the needed support.
On conflicts, the District Disaster Control Officer of NADMO, Ms Victoria Okutu, urged the volunteers to endeavour to find amicable solutions to minor conflicts which began in their communities and not allow them to degenerate into violent situations.
She, however, said those which were criminal in nature should be reported to the appropriate authorities, adding that the volunteers should always have the attributes of mediators in order to win the confidence and trust of the people they lived with.
Ms Okutu educated the participants on: What is conflict; types of conflicts; conflict management; the conflict tree; process of conflict resolution; negotiation; mediation; arbitration; attributes of a mediator, among other relevant topics.
On the H1N1 influenza, the Deputy Chief Disaster Control Officer at the NADMO headquarters in Accra, Mr Ruth Arthur, stated that the pandemic was still a serious health problem which must continue to be treated with all the seriousness it deserved.
Ms Arthur, who is also the Desk Officer for Disease and Epidemic Disasters, said as of December 31, 2009, 55 H1N1 cases had been reported in Ghana, with no deaths so far.
She took the opportunity to educate the participants on the background of the pandemic; disease profile; mode of transmission; symptoms; treatment; the impact of the disease on society, as well as preparations made by the country to reduce its impact on society.
For his part, the Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinator of NADMO, Mr Winfred Nomotey Tesia, advised the participants to put into practice the knowledge they had acquired for the benefit of their respective communities, adding that in so doing, the assembly would be encouraged to offer more of such assistance to others.
The Chairman for the function, who is also the District NADMO Co-ordinator, Mr Ebenezer Kwame Adzakli, advised assembly members to report all wrongdoing in the communities, specifically those who built on water courses and other unapproved areas, for the right thing to be done.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

NHIA staff to sign agreement

THE National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) says staff of the authority will from this month sign what it termed confidentiality agreement.
That, according to the authority, is to control indiscriminate dissemination of information by all categories of staff.
At a recent durbar held in Accra for staff at the headquarters of the authority and those in the Greater Accra Region, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NHIA, Mr Sylvester Mensah, said much as the authority would not want to hide information from the public, authorised officers with the right form of information should be responsible for that.
He explained that some staff members of the headquarters would be posted to the regional offices to strengthen the public relations outfits there.
Mr Mensah took the opportunity to announce some new appointments, as well as a number of transfers, which had taken place since the beginning of the year.
Throwing more light on the issue of confidentiality agreement, the NHIA Board Secretary, who is also the Head of Legal Affairs, Mrs Aimee Yuori, told the Daily Graphic that the move was to protect corporate information as well as ensure that discipline existed among the various positions of the authority.
She explained that the procedure was in line with what persisted in many public and civil entities where information flow was regulated in a similar manner.
Mrs Yuori said there was no institution or organisation anywhere where management would encourage that all types of information, either confidential or otherwise, to go out anyhow without any checks in place.
In an answer to a question, she stressed that although there had not been any time where any damaging information had gotten out to the public, there were, however, occasions where some members of staff gave out information which later turned out to be wrong and embarrassing.
Elaborating on the procedure, she said all staff members would be made to sign forms which would be placed on their personal files, adding that any personnel who flouted the agreement would be sanctioned based on the NHIA’s conditions of service.
“When a case like that happens, the authority would look at it and based on the conditions of service, will come out with the appropriate sanction,” she stated.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Sat. January 9, 2010

THE National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has sanctioned 34 individuals and service providers in the Volta and Brong Ahafo regions, in its efforts to ensure the sustenance of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Out of the 34, seven members of staff of the NHIA have been interdicted and four other individuals who are staff of some affected hospitals are to be handed over to the police.
In addition, 15 service providers have been suspended, six others are to be reported to the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service and two mission hospitals are to be reported to the Christian Health Association of Ghana for appropriate action.
The action was taken after months of financial and clinical audits conducted in all the scheme’s offices, as well as some selected health facilities in the two regions, where fraudulent activities were allegedly uncovered.
In a report headed “Findings and action taken on the Audit of the Volta and Brong Ahafo Regions,” made available to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, the NHIA indicated that the officers involved included the scheme manager and accountant respectively of the North Tongu DMHIS in the Volta Region.
The two were said to have failed to account for a total of GH¢27,836.00 of premium collected from subscribers.
At the Adaklu-Anyibge DMHIS, the audit report revealed that GH¢28,537.73 meant for the payment of claims to service providers was allegedly misappropriated by three of the scheme’s officers.
At the Jaman North DMHIS, the scheme manager and the accountant who were said to be on interdiction were allegedly involved in mismanagement and incompetence.
The district office under the leadership of the two officials was reported to have misapplied GH¢25,944.00 to purchase computers and accessories and also misapplied other funds to the tune of GH¢12,000.00.
The two officials were also accused of locking GH¢52,750.00 which they used in printing identification (ID) cards, security renewal stickers and making of ID cards wallets. Moneys from the claims accounts were said to have been used to make those payments.
The Wenchi DMHIS was also cited for overpayment of claims to the tune of GH¢57,932.13 to Emil Memorial Hospital, Wenchi Methodist Hospital, Subinso Health Centre, Nyaase Royal Maternity Home and Droboso Clinic.
The service providers which had been sanctioned because of alleged professional misconduct and malfeasance are the Biodum Maternity Home at Adidome; Haggar Clinic and St Paul’s Hospital, both at Akatsi; Crown Pharmacy in Ho; Sefe Clinic; St Patrick Hospital at Kpando and Adidome Government Hospital, Sogakope Government Hospital, Peki Government Hospital and Afoega Catholic Hospital, all in the Volta Region.
In the Brong Ahafo Region, facilities which were alleged to have been involved in fraudulent deals are Bernice Maternity and Clinic at Yeji; Helen Pharmacy at Duayaw Nkwanta; Shasha Clinic at Goaso; Emil Memorial Hospital at Berekum; Akomade Clinic at Atebubu and Menji Rural Clinic.
The audit report revealed that several maternity homes were providing extensive clinical services other than maternity and child health services.
The NHIA indicated that the practice ran through the country and, therefore, took the opportunity to advise such maternity homes to desist from providing extensive clinical services to NHIS subscribers.

Friday, January 8, 2010

'Government rating high' (Front Page)

A cross-section of people and a number of recognised bodies in Accra yesterday scored high marks for the Mills administration in the areas of the economy, education and security after one year in office.
However, they conceded that a lot more needed to be done in the areas of consolidating peace, promoting business, providing infrastructure and improving the general conditions of workers.
A security analyst, Mr Emmanuel Bombande, noted that the first year of the Mills administration witnessed a remarkable improvement in the fight against violent crimes, but not in the search for peace, reports Kofi Yeboah.
In an interview, Mr Bombande stressed the need for the police and other security agencies to upscale their strategy in order to sustain the gains made and called for a more proactive approach to improve on peace interventions.
"Peace and security are mutually influential and are truly integrated, and yet, they are not the same thing," he remarked, as he shared some thoughts with the Daily Graphic on the performance of the Mills administration regarding national security in 2009.
Mr Bombande said although security could not be put in a time frame, there had been a remarkable improvement and progress in combating violent crime, such as armed robbery.
He said the achievement was due to the more proactive approach adopted by the police and the military, an improvement on their capacity for rapid deployment and the reward package instituted by the police, among other factors.
Although he admitted that there had been a few instances of violent crime of very disturbing proportions in the course of the year, he pointed out that, in terms of figures, those incidents were less than what pertained the previous year.
Mr Bombande, however, indicated that the issue was not just about statistics but the psychological barrier that made people to feel safe or unsafe.
He said the challenge was how to sustain the gains made and even improve on them to ensure that the incidents of violent crime were reduced to the barest minimum.
On peace, Mr Bombande observed that peacekeeping in the country had been reduced to the level of firefighting without any initiative to promote dialogue among the factions.
The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) feels that some achievements were made in the area of education, reports Emmanuel Bonney.
The association said the interventions such as the provision of free exercise books, free uniforms and the 50 per cent increase in the Capitation Grant from GH¢3 to GH¢4.50 pesewas, to attract and retain pupils in school were laudable.
A Deputy General Secretary of GNAT, Mr John Nyoagbe, told the Daily Graphic that the interventions by the government would help address inequality in the system.
He said such initiatives should not be a nine-day wonder but should be sustained, adding that the real targets of the interventions should be identified for them to derive maximum benefit.
"The increase in the Capitation Grant by 50 per cent is worthy of commendation. But the issue is the time of delivering the resource is the most important thing. If the Capitation Grant comes early enough then school heads would use it to plan and implement the programme, but if it comes in the middle of the term or towards the end, then one can now guess what the money would be used for," he said.
Mr Nyoagbe said teachers and their welfare issues especially teacher shortage and how to attract and retain teachers in deprived communities, needed to be given a very serious thought.
He said the 20 per cent allowance for teachers in rural areas announced by the government should not be a platform talk but must be translated into reality else the imbalance in education delivery would remain.
On the Government's decision to revert to the three-year senior high school education, he said once the government had decided to do that it should endeavour to motivate teachers and provide the needed facilities that would enhance teaching and learning.
On the health sector, a former Director-General (D-G) of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, said it was premature for any serious assessment to be done on a government’s performance within one year, reports Lucy Adoma Yeboah.
He went further to point out that it would be a bit easier if the health sector had had one minister to head the ministry for the year but not under the current situation where the ministry had two ministers within that short period.
Professor Akosa explained that if Dr George Sipah-Adjah Yankey who was first assigned the responsibility of the ministry had been given the opportunity to work for the whole year, one would have been in a better position to, at least, look at some of the policies he might have introduced.
He said unfortunately, Dr Yankey did not keep long at the Ministry of Health and also the new minister, Dr Benjamin Kunbour, had just taken over as the substantive sector minister and, therefore, no proper assessment could be done on that ministry.
Matilda Attram & Henrietta Brocke report that a section of the traders at the Agbogbloshie market raised concerns about the economy in the first year of the Mills administration, which came into office on January 7, 2009.
A provision shop owner, Mr Fred Addo, said although the economy had not been better than expected, it was manageable.
Comparing the National Democratic Congress (NDC) era to that of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), he stated that the difference in the increase in fuel prices and goods was not that much.
“During NPP era a carton of milk was 16 cedis and now it is 20 cedis due to inflation,” he said.
He expressed the hope that Ghanaians would co-operate with the government to improve on the economy for the benefit of all.
For his part, the Executive Director at the Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA), Dr J. L. S. Abbey, urged the government to strive towards reducing its expenditure in order to close its deficit gap currently pegged at 10.5 per cent, reports Naa Lamiley Bentil.
Last year, the government envisaged a reduction of its deficit to 9.4 per cent but it was unable to achieve that target at the end of year 2009 and that, according to Dr Abbey, could be attributed to the backlog of expenditure in the year 2008 during the electioneering.
To reverse the trend however, and set the economic on a path of recovery, Dr Abbey stated that the government must remain focus and insist on value for money in its expenditure whilst ensuring that programmes and projects which had stalled were completed to the benefit of the people.
Infrastructure projects such as roads, for instance, must be built to facilitate economic activities.
According to him, 2009 was a very difficult year for even developed economies due to the global recession and described Ghana as “a tail of two cities”.
Explaining, Dr Abbey said Ghana was caught in between two forces, in that whilst developed nations increased their spending to stimulate the economy, Ghana’s government reduced spending significantly to stabilise its economy.
From the labour front, Rebecca Quaicoe-Duho reports that the Deputy Secretary General of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr Yaw Baah, has commended the government for some bold initiatives that it had taken since it took office.
One of such initiative is the implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS), which, according to Dr Baah, would help bring relief to most workers especially teachers in terms of they getting fair wages which would be commensurate to their work.
He also commended the government for the implementation of the Three Tier Pension Scheme, which, according to him, would enable most workers to go on pension with some dignity.
Dr Yaw Baah, however, expressed some reservations including the existing high taxes which public service workers had to pay and the current employment situation in the country.

Japanese grant for two schools in two regions (Back Page)

Two schools — one at Suntreso in the Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region and the other at Mepe in the North Tongu District in the Volta Region — have become beneficiaries of a grant from the Japanese government for the construction of a six-classroom block and a science laboratory.
While the Suntreso Primary School will receive $95,028 for the construction of a six-classroom block and a place of convenience, the St Kizito Senior High School at Mepe will benefit from $94,818 for the construction of a science laboratory.
The science laboratory, when completed, will also cater for the needs of students at the Battor Senior High School and the Aveyime Senior High School, both in the North Tongu District in the Volta Region.
The grant for the project was made possible under the Japanese Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GHSP) scheme initiated by the Japanese Government.
A contract to give effect to the grant was signed between the Japanese Embassy in Ghana and Suntreso Primary School and St Kizito Senior High School in Accra yesterday.
The Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Keiichi Katakami, signed for the Japanese government while the District Director of Education for Amansie West, Mr Samuel Kena, and Headmaster of St Kizito Technical School , Mr Emmanuel Kwame Vortuame, initialled for Suntreso Primary School and St Kizito Technical School respectively.
At the signing ceremony, the Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Keiichi Katakami, said the Government of Japan had made basic education projects one of its priorities.
He explained that the Suntreso Primary School block was constructed more that 60 years ago out of mud and the community lacked the resources to build a new one by themselves hence the embassy’s decision to help.
Touching on the science laboratory project to be constructed at the St Kizito Technical School, Mr Katakami said a total of 799 science students were expected to benefit directly once the project was completed.
For his part, the District Director of Education for Amansie West, Mr Kena, promised to ensure that the project, which was slated for the end of September, this year, was completed on schedule.
He, however, pledged not to sacrifice quality but to ensure that good work was done.
In his remarks, the Headmaster of St Kizito Technical School, Mr Vortuame, pointed out that when the authorities of the school recognised the need for a science laboratory they approached the embassy for assistance, which was offered.
He took the opportunity to thank the embassy on behalf of the students and teachers of the school, adding that the community would forever be grateful to the Japanese government.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

GCPP assures members *As Kufuor, PNC mourn its leader

AS the nation mourns the Founder and Leader of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), Mr Dan Lartey, the Executive Committee of the party has assured the party members, followers and sympathisers that the philosophy and ideals of the party still stand.
In a statement signed by the National Chairman of the GCPP, Mr John Thompsom in Accra, it stated that philosophy and ideals of the party established by the late Mr Lartey “will continue to guide the party in its quest to win the 2012 election”.
The statement advised members of the party to be steadfast and calm as the leadership made arrangements to announce the programme of activities and dates for the regional conferences.
In a related developmet, Former President John Agyekum Kufuor on Tuesday consoled the family and friends of the late Mr Lartey describing him as "one of the political stalwarts of our time".
A message released in Accra and carried by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) read: "I have learnt with shock the passing away of Mr Daniel Augustus Lartey, Founder and Leader of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP).
"Mr Lartey, or 'Mr Domestication', as he is popularly called, has paid his dues as one of the political stalwarts of our time”.
The statement continued that a man of great conviction, Mr Lartey stood by his ideals and defended what he believed in staunchly.
"The fervour and dynamism he brought to the national political plate at his advanced age were amazing, even to his adversaries.
"As a veteran politician, Mr Lartey had his fair share of the political vicissitudes of this country but he never gave up in his quest to see Ghana shaped in the mould of the vision that he had for it.
"Alas, death has robbed him of achieving that goal. As we mourn the loss of this great son of Ghana, it behoves on those who share in his dream to sustain it and grow the party he founded as memorial to his great works."
The People’s National Convention (PNC) also expressed shock at the death of “Comrade’ Dan Augustus Lartey.
“Comrade has in his life contributed enormously, not only for his family and himself but to the economic and democratic dispensation of the country he so loved,” it said.
A statement signed by the General Secretary of the PNC, Mr Bernard Anbataayela Mornah, said Mr Lartey’s concept of ‘domestication’ added to the economic nomenclature and it had become a household word.
“Many, and for that matter all those who believe that the way of our economic salvation rested on the shoulders of our own resources, see his domestication idea as a policy well grounded. This concept was to ensure that Ghanaians patronised made-in-Ghana produce.
“The Ghanaian business should be provided the needed impetus to grow. This way, we will provide opportunity for employment thus increase levels of income and become food sufficient, thereby reducing the huge import bill of our nation”, it added.
The statement said Uncle Dan’s contribution to national discourse and development had been legendary and exemplary.
It said in politics, he added colour to the multiparty democratic experiment, especially in 2000, when he acted in concert with other citizens to foster political change by standing firm in his opposition to policies and acts that were inimical to national cohesion.
It said Uncle Dan joined forces with other political leaders to oppose the setting up of a procurement authority for the Electoral Commission (EC) and the passage of the Representation of the People’s Amendment Act (ROPAA).
The statement said in 2008, when elections entered a runoff, Uncle Dan and his party, the GCPP, took a brave decision by opting for ‘Change’.
“The PNC send our sympathies to the Lartey Family, the GCPP in the hope that they would be fortified to continue from where Uncle Dan left. We are convinced that the greatest tribute for Dan Lartey will be a continuation of the things he stood for”.
The statement also said for his contribution to the nation, it was the hope of the PNC that the government would accord this statesman the honour he deserved.
Family sources said Mr Lartey passed away on Monday evening in Accra.