Friday, May 28, 2010

All must support Achimota Eco-park project (Back Page)

THE Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Collins Dauda, has stated that in the face of massive encroachment, protecting the Achimota Forest is now getting out of hand.
Achimota is still the largest remaining urban green-belt in the country in spite of the fact that its initial size of more than 500 hectares has reduced to 360 hectares due to encroachment.
At the opening of a technical workshop on “Draft proposal for the development of the Achimota Forest into an urban ecological theme forest” in Accra, Alhaji Dauda indicated that the threats to the forest reserve ranged from encroachment on areas for the construction of roads through the construction of settlements to the dumping of various waste materials.
Touching on the proposed ecological park, he said its establishment had become necessary in view of the current threat to the ecological integrity of the forest.
He said the park, when developed, had the potential of providing a serene recreational environment to the people of Accra and for visitors to the capital.
Alhaji Dauda said it had become urgent at this stage for all stakeholders to make conscious effort to protect the forest from further degradation and fragmentation to ensure perpetual flow of benefits to the present and future generations.
“It is my strong conviction that the only way to protect the remaining Achimota Forest is to put it into some protective use,” he stressed.
He also expressed the conviction that the park would create a number of direct and indirect employment opportunities at various stages of the development process.
Alhaji Dauda took the opportunity to call for collaboration between other stakeholders which included the Ministry of Tourism, as well as other interest groups in the entertainment industry to contribute to ensure a successful project.
A brief on the proposed Achimota Eco-Park Project indicated that historically, the reserve was gazetted in July, 1930 with the purpose of creating a green buffer between the Achimota School and the city of Accra, as well as provide cheap fuel for the school.
It was also to be partly managed as a nature reserve, recreational park and a nature study facility for students and researchers.
The proposed Achimota Eco-Park Project is said to be full of promise and, therefore, deserves the best of efforts.

Turkey reopens embassy in Accra

THE Republic of Turkey has re-opened its embassy in Accra after it was closed down in 1981.
The embassy in Accra is among the first eight that had so far been opened by the Turkish government in the sub-Saharan Africa since 2005. A total of 15 embassies are expected to be opened in sub-Sahara Africa within the next few years.
This was made known by the Turkish Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Kenan Tepedelen during a courtesy call on the Managing Director (MD) of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Mr Mohammed Ibrahim Awal in Accra today.
Present during the meeting was the Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr Ransford Tetteh, the Adverts and Business Promotion Manager, Mr Frank Oduro and the Public Affairs Manager, Mr Albert Sam.
The ambassador also visited the Daily Graphic newsroom where he was briefed by the News Editor, Mr Samuel Okaitey.
Mr Tepedelen said his government’s decision to add Ghana to the initial beneficiaries was the fact that Turkey had an existing relationship with Ghana and also the presence of elements of good governance that had prevailed in Ghana for sometime.
He explained that although there was no physical consular structure in Ghana, individual business entities within the two countries had continued to conduct their trading activities over the years.
The ambassador pointed out figures gathered by his government indicated that by the end of 2009, the trade between Ghana and Turkey amounted to US$175 million.
Mr Tepedelen expressed the hope that the figure could double within the next two to three years if the necessary legal framework and infrastructure were instituted at governmental levels for the benefit of both countries.
He said Turkey and Ghana had an economic, commerce and technical framework agreement in 1997 adding that brought about an economic committee meeting in Ankara, Turkey in 1998.
He expressed the hope that with the re-opening an embassy in Accra, a second economic meeting would be help, most probably in Ghana to revive the relationship.
He called for the conclusion of agreement of protection and promotion of investment to enhance trade and also encourage investment.
Mr Tepedelen who said he visited Accra during the African Union (AU) summit in 2007, said Ghana is an important country to Turkey.
He hinted that there were plans to invite a number of Ghanaian journalists to visit Turkey to enable them have first hand information about the country.
Touching Turkey’s relationship with countries on the African continent, he said the country declared 2005, “The Year of Africa” with the focus on assisting African governments in their struggle against lack of food, water supply and effects of natural disasters, poverty, infections and socio-economic problems.
He said the declation was followed with the establishment of its first regional field office in Ethopia, followed by Sudan and Senegal respectively in 2006 and 2007.
For his part, Mr Awal said that the GCGL was prepared to assist in enhancing a mutual relationship between Ghana and Turkey through reporting.
He wished Mr Tepedelen a good stay in Ghana and assured him of the group’s assistance in his work as an ambassador.
Turkey, known officially as the Republic of Turkey is a Eurasian country that stretches across the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia and Thrace in the Balkan region of south-eastern Europe.
Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Bulgaria to the Northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia to the Northeast; Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the Southeast.
The predominant religion in Turkey which has a population of about 73 million, is Islam and its official language is Turkish.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'Ignore politicians, set the agenda' (Page 3)

IT is high time Ghanaian journalists ignored the continual “empty noise” made by some politicians and concentrate on issues that affect majority of the people, says a media consultant, Professor Kwame Karikari.
Addressing participants at the Africa Day 2010 Development Journalism Seminar held in Accra on Monday, Professor Karikari said journalists should concentrate on the day-to-day issues of livelihood instead of spending resources on “loose talk and nothingness that disturb our ears”.
“There is the need to shift journalism from the issues of politicians and concentrate more on the things that affect everyday lives,” he stressed.
Professor Karikari, who is also the Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), said the media should not allow themselves to be dictated to by politicians but rather be the ones to set the agenda for national development.
He said there were some members of both the ruling and opposition parties who intentionally employed all manner of techniques to divert the attention of society so that they could cover up their inadequacies.
Speaking on the topic: “Harnessing the power of the media for social change”, Prof. Karikari noted that many people continued to live in poverty, which was degrading.
He, therefore, challenged media practitioners to tackle the important factors of poverty, which included lack of basic infrastructure, water, electricity, health care, road safety and consumer rights.
Professor Karikari said in time past when Ghana had few media houses, a lot of airtime and space was dedicated to developmental issues, especially public health, but now that there were many media houses, all attention had been turned to politicians who oftentimes deceived people as a means of achieving their own individual objectives.
He said a political party that had failed to perform its core responsibility could indulge in what he termed "diversionary tactics" to avoid the issues.
He observed that some politicians from both sides of the political divide did not want to concentrate on governance but spent time insulting each other.
Professor Karikari observed that the culture of insults was thriving especially on radio because many of the radio stations lacked management and, therefore, allowed people to say what they wanted without any checks.
“Until management sit down and regulate those things, we will continue to be fed with all manner of insults,” he stated.
He touched on media professionalism and called for accuracy, clarity, ethical norms, publication of what was edifying, using sober language that would make people want to hear more, as well as using images that the public would want to remember.
In his welcoming address, the General Secretary of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Bright Blewu, urged journalists to focus on development journalism.
He noted that the programme was taking place on the eve of the African Union (AU) Day, adding that journalism during the time of the formation of the AU was basically on development.
Mr Blewu challenged Ghanaian journalists to set the agenda and generate debate to ensure that they put the government on its toes without being negative.
“We need to push developmental issues through our reportage,” he stressed.
The one-day seminar was organised by the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) in collaboration with the GJA. Ms Sylvia Vollenhoven of the Knight Development Journalism Fellow-Ghana was the lead trainer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Health facilities require maximum investment (Graphic Business)

A RESEARCH conducted in four regions of the country revealed lack of improvement in health infrastructure, equipment and human resource although the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has led to significant increase in attendance to those facilities
This should be a concern to all because the situation is said to have resulted in extra workload for health professional, over-stressed staff, excessive pressure on existing amenities and reduced attention to patients.
The research which was on "Balancing Access with Quality Healthcare: An Assessment of NHIS in Ghana (2004-2008), was conducted by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) SEND-Ghana. Data was collected in 50 districts the Upper East, Upper West, Northern and the Greater Accra regions.
The bad nature of our health care facilities is not new but the situation seems to move from bad to worse with the introduction of the NHIS. The scheme, with its increased in hospital attendance seem to have exposed the challenges in the health sector.
All the same it is a fact that the NHIS in spite its challenges, has really increased the revenue or income of a lot of service providers. Although there is the problem of delays in payment of claims, service providers could still make some profit when outstanding payments are made.
The question here is, are patients getting value for money? The answer is no. This is because facilities at many hospitals remain the same and some are even getting worse.
One another thing is the fact that private hospitals especially those in the cities and towns which were known to have performed better as compared to public hospitals have graudally gone down. Those which could be consider top class private hospitals have for sometime now remained the preferred provider of services to patients from corporate organisations.
That was because their staff were provided with timely and quality services and also had personal contact with doctors who provided them with satisfactory service. That made these organisations willing to pay those hospitals knowing very well that their workers would be catered for.
With the intention of also gaining from the NHIS, many of these private facilities since the introduction of the scheme joined the public hospitals to acquire accreditation to serve the various schemes only to devalue the service to their corporate clients.
As attendance to these hospitals increase and providers make more money, quality of service at facilities went down due to over-usage and lack of maintenance and replacement of equipment. This is the irony of the situation.
A cursory look around town revealed that many of our hospitals which boast of laboratories have nothing worth calling it a laboratory.
Many of them do not have simply pH meter that measures water quality for test.
Many private practitioners do not have pharmacists and use unqualified staff for their business. Lack of well trained nurses is also a factor.
In fact, the worsening condition in our private hospitals deserve maximum attention now that Ghana is preparing to produce oil in commercial quantities. This because the economy of the country is expected to move up with its attendant lifestyle diseases. There is also the possibility that a sizeable number of nationals from other countries will relocate to this country and might need quality health care similar to what pertains in their countries. We should also know that the oil companies are resourceful and require quality service for their staff.
It is also important that the necessary measures are put in place before Ghana’s health sector lose out completely.
For this reason it is important for Ghanaian medical practitioners, especially the private ones who can choose to invest on their own in various ways to participate in the Second International Medical and Pharmaceutical Expo 2010 being organised by Shem Pharma Services Limited (Ghana) under the auspices of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Society of Private Medical and Dental Practitioners Ghana, in August, this year . This will help them to acquire knowledge on the issue of oil and how to get prepared for the time.
Shem Pharma Service Limited is an organisation with the vision of providing a platform for health practitioners in both the private and public sectors to exchange innovative ideas in order to reduce the high incidence of medical errors in health-care delivery.
Dubbed "Medishop Expo 2010", the International Medical and Pharmaceutical Expo comes off at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) from August 19 – August 21, 2010.
The conference theme is: “The Emerging Oil and Gas Wealth in Ghana-Environmental and Medical Challenges to our Community”. Ghana should learn from other countries that already produce oil and take all the necessary steps to gain at all levels in the industry.
It is also important we learn from our own experiences as far as gold production is concerned. Just like gold, it is a fact that majority of Ghanaians will never see a drop of oil in their lifetime yet they would be affected by its impact. Obuasi township with all its challenges should serve as lesson.
It is important that the private medical practitioners invest in the facilities at their disposal so as gain from the oil production which is likely to begin by the end of this year. With no improved services, the health care facilities are to sure to lose to the others elsewhere.

Support College of Health Sciences to train Specialists

Monday, May 24, 2010

A CALL has been made to institutions in private and public sectors as well as individuals to support the College of Health Sciences to provide specialist training locally.
The Chairman of the College of Health Sciences Postgraduate Endowment Fund, Mr Sam Okudzeto, who made the call in Accra yesterday said specialist training locally was important because it had become clear that there was danger in travelling abroad for medical attention as a result of the distance involved and the possibility of complications along the route.
Speaking at the launch of the 10th anniversary celebrations of the College of Health Sciences in Accra, Mr Okudzeto, who is also a renowned legal practitioner, cited cases of the death of some people he described as some best brains to buttress his point.
The event was also used to encourage institutions, groups and individuals to contribute to the endowment fund to support post graduate training locally.
Mr Okudzeto said personalities, including the late President Dr Hilla Limann, the late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, the late Major Courage Quashiga (retd) and the late presidential candidate of the Great Consolidated People’s Party (GCPP), Dan Lartey, went abroad for medical treatment but to no avail.
He said there was no doubt that non-communicable diseases such as stroke and diabetes, which, he observed, were a threat to chief executives could be controlled if sufficient professionals were trained in specialised fields.
Mr Okudzeto pointed out that “if we are able to help our health institutions we can get the best health care services without necessarily travelling outside. The rampant death of our best brains can be reduced if we support this worthy cause, ” he said.
Mr Okudzeto explained that the danger in travelling abroad for medical attention was that one might die midway because of the distance involved and went on to ask that “besides, what happens in emergency situations along the route?”.
He said the fund which was instituted in 2000, was expected to support post-graduate students through provision of scholarships and award of research grants for M.Phil. and PhD research projects.
He said if enough funds were raised, lecturers, professors and deans would also be supported to acquire additional knowledge elsewhere.
For his part, the outgoing Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Clifford Nii Boi Tagoe, said the establishment of the college 10 years ago was a significant landmark in the development of the University of Ghana after several years of hard work.
He noted that with the collective strength of its constituents, which were the Medical and Dental school, school of Nursing, Allied Health Science and Public Health as well as the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, the college had “finally come to the attention of the world”.
He hinted that a new University of Ghana Act was currently receiving attention by the government and that the university council was also in the process of enacting new statutes.
The Provost of the College, Professor A.L. Lawson, said the challenges of the college were many, including limited budgetary support, poor infrastructure, ageing faculty and inadequate capacity for research.
He said in trying to address those challenges, the college was developing its second strategic plan, embracing the liberation of the college legally, financial empowerment, establishment of a human resource framework, infrastructure expansion and modernisation as well as the development of new activities to compete for growth.
The anniversary was formally launched by the Deputy Managing Director of Ghana Reinsurance Company, Mr Gustav Siale, who contributed GH¢5,000 on behalf of his organisation to the endowment fund.

NHIA fires 3 more officials

Monday, May 24, 2010

THREE more officials of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) have been dismissed, while five others have been interdicted, for their alleged involvement in fraudulent activities.
The dismissed officials are Yakubu Suhununu, the scheme accountant of the Nanumba North District Mutual District Health Insurance Scheme (DMHIS); Bertraund Tanefa Gbemu of the Akuapem South DMHIS and Rockson Bonnie, the scheme manager of the Sekyere West DMHIS.
Those interdicted are Emmanuel Avinu, scheme manager; Charles Ewudzie, claims manager, and John Kwaku Ahadzie, scheme accountant, all of the Ketu DMHIS.
The rest are Michael Opoku, the scheme accountant, and Felix Yankyera Donkor, the claims manager, both of the Sekyere West DMHIS.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NHIA, Mr Sylvester Mensah, who made this known at a workshop in Accra, said the dismissal and interdiction of the officials were done after financial and clinical audits of the operations of the health insurance schemes in March 2010.
The latest action brings to 32 the number of NHIA officials who have either been dismissed or interdicted as a result of their alleged involvement in fraudulent activities which were uncovered through clinical auditing conducted by a special audit team set up by the authority late last year. A statement signed by the Deputy Director of Public Affairs at the NHIA, Mr Eric Ametor-Quarmyne, to throw more light on the dismissals and interdiction explained that Suhununu’s dismissal followed investigations conducted into the operations of the scheme which established fraud.
In Gbemu’s case, it indicated that she was found to have misappropriated GH¢10,879, being premiums she collected from subscribers for the period January 2009 to February 2010 at the Aburi sub-office of the Akuapem South DMHIS.
According to the statement, Bonnie was summarily dismissed for failing to respond to a query following a claims audit conducted on the Sekyere West DMHIS between January 27, 2010 and February 4, 2010.
“The dismissal letters cited various clauses of the NHIA’s staff conditions of service in sanctioning the affected officials. Yakubu Suhununu and Rockson Bonnie failed to respond to queries issued to them to explain themselves when they were given the opportunity to do so,” it stated.
Regarding the three scheme officials of the Ketu DMHIS, their interdiction letters stated that they were ”interdicted from the Ketu DMHIS with effect from Monday, May 17, 2010, in order for investigations to be carried out into the case in a fair and uninterrupted manner”.
The affected had, therefore, been instructed to hand over the running of the scheme and any scheme property in their possession to the Volta Regional Manager.
The decision to interdict them followed revelations of financial and clinical audits carried out on the operations of the Ketu DMHIS which resulted in the recovery of some GH¢982,000, being fraudulent claims, from various service providers in the district.
The audits also established that a fictitious claim of GH¢51,000 was credited to the account of the St Anthony Hospital by the scheme accountant.
The statement said further investigations revealed that the hospital did not submit any such claim to the scheme.
The audit also established that, since April 2008, the scheme had completely failed to vet claims submitted to it by service providers in the district.
“The clinical and financial audit reports indicted the management of the scheme for their omissions, commissions, and managerial incompetence for the lapses uncovered by the audit teams,” it said.
Meanwhile, the Volta Regional Manager of the NHIA has been directed to assume responsibility for the operations of the scheme in the interim, while a final determination is made on their case.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

NHIS results in increased hospital attendance-study

THE implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has led to significant increase in attendance to health facilities without a corresponding improvement in health infrastructure, equipment and human resource.
The situation is said to have resulted in extra workload for health professional, over-stressed staff, excessive pressure on existing amenities and reduced attention to patients.
These came out at a dissemination workshop in Accra yesterday on the findings of a research on "Balancing Access with Quality Healthcare: An Assessment of NHIS in Ghana (2004-2008), which was conducted by SEND-Ghana. Data was collected in 50 districts the Upper East, Upper West, Northern and the Greater Accra regions.
As part of the work, the researchers recommend the need for the Ministry of Health (MoH), in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to pay serious attention to the development of existing health facilities, improve upon human resource situation and redistribute health personnel to undeserved and over-burdened communities.
SEND-Ghana is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with the mission to "work to promote good governance and equality of women and men in Ghana. Its work on the NHIS had the support of the Ministry of Health (MoH), the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), among other stakeholders.
The study indicated that the situation of health facilities in some of the regions was even more serious in view of the fact that attendance of patients had increased considerably over the years while the numerical strength of health professionals on the other hand had reduced.
It cited the case of the Northern Region where the number of medical doctors reduced from 32 to 26 between 2006 and 2008 while NHIS membership increased from 281,775 to 828,805.
"In general, more than three quarters of accredited health care facilities (about 76 per cent) covered by this study perceived the NHIS to have negative effect on quality health care delivery", it stated.
In addition, 73 per cent of accredited health facilities indicated that the NHIS affected the quality of medicines health providers prescribed for clients .
To buttress their point, those health facilities cited high market prices of some medicines, delayed claims reimbursement and exclusion of some effective drugs from the medicines list as the reasons.
The report also came out that more than half of the accredited health facilities (about 63 per cent) indicated that the NHIS impacted negatively on attention health professionals provided for clients.
"Out of this number, nearly 79 per cent pointed out that NHIS members spent longer waiting time due to the cumbersome documentation and large patient attendance. The remaining 21 per cent stated that most NHIS clients are not given in-patients attention due to huge attendance coupled with delayed payment arrangement", the report indicated.
The Dean of the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Professor Fred Binka who reviewed the report said there was the need for the NHIA to know how much money it was receiving each year to enable it to plan accordingly.
He also stated it was important for the NHIA to identify how many people renewed their registration to the scheme after the initial registration and also categorise the registered members according to gender, core poor (indigents), very poor, poor, middle income, rich and the very rich for researchers to know how many members of each of the groups had been covered by the scheme.
In his welcoming address, the Country Director of SEND-Ghana, Mr Samuel Zan Akologo said the research was an independent assessment on the NHIS between 2004 and 2008 and took the opportunity to express his gratitude to all those who helped to make the work a success.
Mr Akologo touched on delays in issuance of identification cards to subscribers, which he pointed out prevented some people who had registered from accessing the facilities.
Statements were made by the Focal Person on NHIS at the MoH, Dr Afisa Zakaria and the Director of Research at the NHIA, Mr O.B Acheampong. The two answered questions from participants and members of the media mostly on the issue of claim reimbursement to service providers.
They indicated that both the MoH and the NHIA were doing everything possible to improve on the NHIS and to also ensure that the scheme was sustained.
The chairperson for the occasion, Dr Sylvia Annie-Akwetey, who is also the Director of Policy Planning at the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), expressed the hope that the study could help towards the improvement of the country's health care system to the benefit of Ghanaians, especially people living with HIV (PLHIV).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teleom monitoring system will check fraud-Iddrisu

THE decision to introduce a monitoring system in telecommunication operations is not to encroach on the privacy of consumers but to check fraud, says the Minister of Communications, Mr Haruna Iddrissu.
Mr Iddrissu maintained that he had heard some people complain about the government’s decision to introduce the monitoring system and pointed out that the exercise was meant to check any mobile phone operator who might indulge in fraud.
Speaking at the this year’s commemoration of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day and Consumer Forum in Accra yesterday, he explained that it was to detect international calls which were fraudulently made to look like local calls by some operators to enable them to cheat the system.
The theme for the occasion was: Improving ICT Service Together for a Better Ghana”.
As part of the event, a forum for representatives of consumer groups, the media, and the general public was also organised where representatives of all the six telecommunication companies in the country made statements and also answered questions from the public.
The companies were TiGO, Zain, MTN, Glo, Kasapa and Vodafone. The Director-General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Mr Bernard A. Forson, also had some questions to answer.
Many of the questions bordered on the performance of the telecommunication service providers and the role of the NCA and the individual providers in getting things done right.
In addition, Mr Iddrissu took the opportunity to urge the NCA to publish the quality of service of the individual phone operators to enable the public to know which one was performing better. He challenged operators in the industry to improve the services being provided to the Ghanaian consumer.
On access to information communication and technology (ICT) in educational institutions, the Communications Minister said the government would by next year ensure that all the 38 colleges of education in the country were connected to the Internet.
In his welcoming address, the Chairman of the board of the NCA, Mr Kofi Totobi Quakyi, said in spite of the fact that Ghana had moved higher in the area of accessing Information and Communication Technology as compared to other countries, there still existed gaps, especially in the rural areas.
He pointed out that ICT was playing a significant role in the lives of peoples the world over adding that it was helping to connect millions who would have hitherto remained isolated.
Mr Quakyi explained that the objective of the celebration, which was set aside by the UN was to stimulate discussion on the way forward, to empower majority of the people on ICT use and among others.
In a speech read on his behalf on the occasion, the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Kim Moon, said in today’s world, telecommunications were more than just a basic service, they were means to promote development, improve society and save lives, adding that “This will be all the more true in the world of tomorrow”.
He pointed out that the importance of telecommunications was on display in the wake of the earth quake which devastated Haiti earlier this year.
Communications technologies, the UN boss said, were used to co-ordinate, optimise resources and provide desperately sought information about the victims.

Seek alternative livelihood to tobacco growing - WHO (Graphic Business)

GHANA recently hosted a three-day international conference in Accra with the view of developing strategies on alternative livelihoods to tobacco growing.
The reason for the change is to protect the environment and the health of persons in the production and manufacturing of tobacco products.
About 30 participants from 18 WHO-member countries attended the meeting, dubbed the “Second Working Group Meeting on Articles 17 and 18 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC)”.
The FCTC Working Groups at the meeting in Accra, were tasked to fine-tune techniques to get tobacco growers to make a livelihood for themselves by growing alternative crops.
That involved how governments could support farmers and industries to produce healthy products even as they preserved the environment.
The Minister of Health, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, said
Some of the issues addressed at the conference related to articles 17 and 18 of the convention which he described as complex.
The issues were complex because they were core to how governments could support farmers and industries to produce healthy products even as well as preserved the environment in which they lived. Producing tobacco and its products have been a way of life for many families, despite the huge and negative impact it has on health and the environment.
Tobacco growing has a number of significant negative impacts on farmers, as it worsened poverty, and relies heavily on child and bonded labour. This is a situation which had trapped many farming families in cycles of debt and poverty, while increasing the vulnerability of the rural poor.
Tobacco farming also has a serious and negative environmental impact, as it caused pollution, soil degradation and deforestation, thereby contributing to adverse climate change and loss in biodiversity.
Many tobacco farmers will like to switch to alternatives, but they often faced with challenges such as access to credits, markets, technical assistance, inputs and skills.
The tobacco industry had for a long time used farmers to slow down ratification and implementation of the WHO FCTC even though the farmers did not really benefit from their hard work and the big profits of the tobacco industry.
The Head of the Convention Secretariat, WHO Framework on Tobacco Control, Dr Haik Nilogosian, at the workshop said the WHO FCTC was the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO and expressed the hope that the participants would come up with some workable recommendations to the issue of tobacco cultivation which was harmful to the farmers and the environment.
With the conference over it is important for the Ghanaian authorities to take proper interest in the issues raised and how best to handle them.
Over the last few years, British American Tobacco (BAT) Ghana has shut down its factories in Takoradi, the country has witnessed the sheer frustration of former tobacco growers who were trained and financially assisted to cultivate mango, citrus among other crops but could not get ready market for produce.
It came up at the conference that the case was not peculiar to Ghana alone. In fact anywhere else this has happened, tobacco farmers have faced tremendous economic challenges.
The Chairman for the event, Dr George Amofah who is the Deputy Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said although the open antagonism which used to characterise issues of tobacco control had reduced, there were still powerful elements within society who would do all they could to frustrate moves to control tobacco and its use.
The WHO FCTC on tobacco control was developed in response to the globalisation of the tobacco epidemic.
It is the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the WHO that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health.
About 30 participants from 18 WHO-member countries are attended the three-day meeting to provide practical guidelines on how to achieve the goals of Articles 17 and 18 which deal with economically sustainable alternatives to tobacco growing and protection of the environment. Ghana is the first African country to host a WHO working group meeting.

Monday, May 17, 2010

GMA Awards Night

Story: Henrietta Brocke
THE Ghana Medical Association (GMA) says the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is collapsing due to outstanding insurance claims owed to service providers.
It said many health facilities had been crippled by outstanding insurance claims owed them by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).
The President of the association, Dr Emmanuel Adom Winful expressed the sentiments of the GMA on the NHIS at the awards and press soiree in Accra on Saturday.
A number of individuals and organisations were honoured for their contributions to health delivery in the country, including the Graphic Communications Group, which received three awards.
The Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr Ransford Tetteh and the Daily Graphic health correspondent, Ms Lucy Adomah Yeboah, received special honours for their special attention to health matters. The Graphic Communication Group Limited was also honoured for its contribution to health education.
Dr Winful said the legislative instrument of the NHIS enjoined the insurance authority to reimburse service providers within four weeks of submitting their claims.
“The seven months of outstanding claims facing some facilities is seriously impairing health care delivery in various parts of the country,” Dr Winful said.
He said the huge outstanding claims had led to the situation where some health facilities, which were the only ones in their districts, had voluntarily withdrawn from the scheme.
In view of the situation, he said, the GMA had decided to create a platform at its upcoming public lectures in August for a dispassionate analysis of the challenges of the NHIS and how best those challenges could be resolved to make the NHIS the envy of the world.
He said the NHIA needed to continue with its clinical audits but that ought to be done within the time prescribed by law.
He also addressed recent cases of alleged medical negligence and called on the media to go beyond mere reportage, which often did not last beyond a week, and collaborate with the GMA to critically examine innovative ways of putting the microscope on the health system.
He said it was time journalists and doctors saw each other as partners in a common cause of bringing health and prosperity to the public.

Darkuman Church of Pentecost Women engaged in clean-up exercise

MEMBERS of the Darkuman District Women's Movement of the Church of Pentecost (COP) has organised a clean-up exercise around the Darkuman-Circle station and its environs.
The women were led by Mrs Elizabeth Larbi-Wettey, the wife of the District Pastor, Pastor Matthew Larbi-Wettey, and the District Women's Movement Leader, Mrs Vida Aryee.
The women, who were drawn from six assemblies within the Darkuman District of the church, swept streets and lanes and cleared gutters of rubbish, as well as silt.
To prevent a situation where the rubbish would be left along the streets after the exercise, Zoomlion Ghana Limited was contracted to cart the rubbish away.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, Mrs Larbi-Wettey said the exercise was part of the church's social responsibility to society, and especially the community in which the Church worshipped.
She maintained that the movement would continue to embark on similar exercises since "cleanliness is next to godliness".
Mrs Larbi-Wettey took the opportunity to thank the members of the movement who took part in the exercise and to those who could not participate, she appealed to them to endeavour to respond to such calls in future.
Mrs Aryee said the exercise was to protect the people in the community from diseases which occurred as a result of filth.
She reiterated that many diseases which affected mostly children came out of the environment and advised all women to ensure that their children lived in clean environment.
The women, after the exercise, embarked on physical exercise.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

NADMO organises workshop on H1N1

A day’s workshop on prevention and control of the (HINI) influenza 2009 has been organised in Accra for about 100 directors of education and heads of educational institutions in the Greater Accra Region.
The programme was organised by the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) with support from the UN Office of the Commission for Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) with facilitators from the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
Some of the topics treated were: Update on the pandemic influenza, H1N1 in Ghana, what is pandemic influenza in H1N1, mode of transmission, incubation period, signs and symptoms, treatment and preventive measures.
Others were: Practical hand washing with soap under running water, guidelines for schools and also advise for schools as to how to control and prevent the disease.
The influenza which first broke out in California, USA in April 2009, spread to Ghana on August 5, 2009 and has currently infected more than 700 people mostly in the Greater Accra Region. No death has so far been recorded.
Symptoms of the influenza include fever and cough, sore throat, catarrh, body aches, headache, and in some cases vomiting and diarrhoea. Complications include, pneumonia and difficulty in breathing. Death may occur if severe complications takes place.
In his remarks, the National Co-ordinator of NADMO, Mr Kofi Portuphy said it was important school authorities and parents took the issue of the H1N1 influenza seriously since it could be deadly.
He pointed out that his organisation had within the past few months organised series of educational programmes for many educational institutions and pledged that the programmes would continue.
Presenting a paper, the Director of Accra Metro Health Director, Dr John B.Y. Yabana warned that the pandemic influenza was highly contagious, adding that it mostly affected one’s breathing.
He explained that the disease mostly spread from one person to another through droplets released during coughing or sneezing as in any flu.
He stated that the Greater Accra Region was leading with the number of recorded cases now reaching 628, with the Accra metropolitan area recording about 400 cases.
Dr Yabana mentioned people who were at risk of developing H1N1-related complications included children below five years, adult at age 65 and above, pregnant women, mentally retarded persons, persons suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney and liver disorders and those with cancers and weak immune system.
A representative of the OCHA in Accra, Ms Mercy Manyala stated that it was important for schools to put in place interventions to mitigate the effects of disasters, should they occur.
She also said the organisation would continue to support Ghana to prevent and control the influenza and other disasters.
The National Co-ordinator of School Health Education Programme (SHEP) of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Mrs Ellen Mensah called for similar training programmes to be held in other regions of the country.
She also appealed to the participants to transfer the knowledge to their colleagues to ensure that many educational institutions benefited from the training programme.
The Chairman for the event, Mr Victor Mante of the GES expressed the hope that participants would take the workshop seriously and ensure that it benefited the schools in which they worked.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chronic diseases affect more adults (Back Page)

A STUDY conducted by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has indicated that 56 per cent of adults with three or more risk factors suffer from non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
THE risk factors include smoking, alcohol intake, low intake of fruits and vegetables, low activity, overweight or obesity and raised blood pressure.
Non-communicable diseases are mostly chronic diseases, including stroke, diabetes, hypertension and cancers. They are not infectious or communicable.
At a seminar to disseminate the findings of the study, which was on, “Risk Factors for Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases in the Greater Accra Region”, it also came out that about 37 per cent of adults between 25 and 64 in the region were likely to have hypertension. About 4.5 per cent more also suffer from diabetes.
The study was undertaken by the GHS, in collaboration with the University of Ghana Medical School and the Ghana Statistical Service, in November and December 2006. It had technical and financial support from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Addressing participants, who were mainly health professionals and media practitioners, the Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Robert Joseph Mettle-Nunoo, said the study had also shown that risk factors for NCDs were quite common in adults.
He said 11.3 per cent of men and 0.7 per cent of women currently used tobacco, which was a high risk factor of NCDs, especially cancer.
The Programme Manager in charge of the Non-Communicable Diseases Control Programme (NCDCP) of the GHS, Dr William K. Bosu, said the objective of the survey was to determine the magnitude of selected NCDs in the Greater Accra Region, which had some rural communities but was mainly in an urban setting.
He said 2,662 people were interviewed, adding that all the WHO recommended ‘STEPS’ were adopted.
Dr Bosu, who is also the STEPS Country Focal Person in Ghana, stated that an increase in the number of NCDs must be controlled and recommended governance and leadership roles in the fight.
He also touched on early detection, access to appropriate care, improved quality care, integration of the Regenerative Health and Nutrition Programme to the NCDCP, partnership, social support system, work site interventions, among other measures.
The Deputy Director of the GHS, Dr George Amofah, said the issue of NCDs was a major problem in Ghana and needed to be treated with the seriousness it deserved.
The Programme Officer for NCDs at the WHO Office in Accra, Dr Charles Fleischer-Djoleto, said the high rate of NCDs in Ghana could threaten the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

NHIA makes savings through clinical audits (Graphic Business)

TO check fraudulent activities and anomaly within the various District Mutual Health Insurance Schemes (DMHISs) throughout the country, the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has within the past few months embarked on clinical audit of all its facilities as well as its accredited health service providers.
To sustain the exercise, the NHIA has set up a clinical audit unit which has as its members, accounting personnel, auditors, health professionals and administrators to conduct effective auditing.
Information from the NHIA offices in Accra revealed that the authority had recovered more than GH¢6.43m as a result of auditing undertaken within the first quarter of this year.
The clinical audits were conducted in NHIS accredited facilities which included hospitals, clinics and maternity homes and losses were uncovered in instances where service providers inflated prices of medicines and over-billed the schemes for services provided to National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) subscribers.
Officials of the NHIA at various functions indicated that the clinical audit exercise had become necessary in view increasing amount of subsidies to the individual schemes.
For example, in 2006 subsidies to the schemes stood at GH¢34.63million, in 2007 the figure rose to GH¢70.10million representing over 100 per cent, again the figure rose to GH¢118.53million in 2008 while in 2009 it hit GH¢333.01million.
It has also been revealed that total reinsurance support paid by NHIA to the various schemes was GH¢0.85million in 2006 rising to GH¢9.17million in 2007, in 2008 GH¢21.55million and last year it rose to GH¢39.85million and it is expected to escalate to GH¢72.50million by the end of this year.
At a recent event in Accra, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NHIA Mr. Sylvester Mensa said the setting up of the Clinical Audit Unit formed part of measures put in place to block leakage in its claims administration and to ensure sustainability of the NHIS.
“The setting up of the Clinical Audit Unit alongside the strengthening of the Internal Audit Unit and comprehensive regional verification audit checks being implemented were meant to reduce the reported cases of fraud to the barest minimum,” he stressed.
Other measures aimed at checking fraud and abuses of the NHIS programme, according to the CEO included a directive to all schemes to halt the practice of channelling 20 per cent of both subsidies and reinsurance received from the Authority into administrative expenses.
He said a comprehensive plan has been put in place to arrest the escalating expenditures being incurred by the Authority since that development was obviously unsustainable.
Mr. Mensah outlined goals that the Authority has set itself to achieve this year and mentioned a legal review of ACT 650 (2003) and the implementation of the ‘One Time Premium Payment’ as well as the establishment of the first centralised claims processing centre in Accra, which would be replicated subsequently in the regions.
Other targets included an increase of NHIS coverage to 70 per cent of population by Dec 31, 2010 and the promotion of quality of care through accreditation.
There is also plan to establish of a call centre to ensure customer satisfaction.
Mr Mensah in addition announced that the NHIA had reviewed the NHIS medicines list and distributed electronic copies to stakeholders with Coded NHIS medicines, to facilitate electronic claims processing.
Touching on delays in the issuance of ID cards to subscribers, he gave the assurance that a mobile registration and ID issuance terminals would be set up in the near future to address the situation.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

We must prepare adequately for disasters

THE Deputy Minister of the Interior, Dr Kwasi Apea-Kubi, has called for disaster preparedness at all levels of society in order to survive the impact of such occurrences.
He said preparedness involved knowing the hazards that the people lived in, their period of occurrence, impacts and how to reduce their effects when they do occur.
Delivering the keynote address at a two-day workshop on Disaster Response Contingency Planning for Ghana in Accra,he said in Ghana, there was the incidence of perennial flooding, windstorms, fire outbreaks, epidemic disease outbreaks such as the recent outbreak of the H1N1 influenza.
The workshop, which is a collaborating effort among the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Food Programme, is to review the 2008 National Contingency for Ghana to make it relevant to the present day disaster situation.
Participants were from agencies within the UN Systems in Ghana, the Ghana Armed Forces, the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana National Fire Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Ghana Health Service, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Addressing participants, Dr Apea-Kubi pointed out that the World Disaster Report for 2009 indicated that disasters were on the increase, as well as its impact.
He said over the past 10 years, the world had suffered increasing numbers of natural disasters, affecting more than 2.5 billion, killing one million and causing economic losses of approximately US$700 billion.
Coming home to Ghana, the deputy minister said in 2007,??Northern Ghana floods???, 49 lives were lost, 16,657 homes in more than 500 communities were affected, adding that about 307,127 people were displaced by the floods.
For his part, the Resident Co-ordinator of the WFP, Mr Ismail Omer, said threats of floods were among the many challenges confronting humanity today.
“Both rapid and slow hazards, ranging from personal injury to damage to property and infrastructure have large-scale impacts on the society, economic development and the environment”, he pointed out.
He touched on perennial flooding incidence in Ghana and pointed out that it required a holistic framework that would guide the collective action of all partners.
“Several floods experienced in 2007 and subsequent occurrences in years that followed can only serve as a reminder for this necessity”, Dr Omer stressed.

Caption: (From left) The National Co-ordinator of NADMO, Mr Kofi Portuphy, Dr Cecilia Bentsi, Chairperson of NADMO Relief and Reconstruction Technical Committee and on the right, in the is the Deputy Minister of the Interior, Dr Kwasi Apea-Kubi and on the right is Dr Ismail Omer of the WFP.

'L.I will give full complement to MMDAs' (Spread)

THE Minister of the Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, has stated that the most difficult part of the decentralisation process has been the decentralisation of administrative functions at the local level.
Answering questions at the ministry’s turn at the weekly Meet-the-Press series in Accra yesterday, Mr Chireh said although the programme of decentralisation was in progress, departments in the districts continued to operate under their sector ministries and agencies either from the head office in Accra or the regional level.
He said the coming into force of the Local Government (Department of District Assemblies) (Commencement) Legislative Instrument of 2009 (L.I 1961) was welcome because it was to ensure that the decentralised departments functioned under the various district assemblies.
Mr Chireh said the L.I would give the metropolitan, municipal and district assembles (MMDAs) their full complement as envisaged under Article 240 (2) of the 1992 Constitution and reinforced by the Local Government Act, 1993, Act 462.
He pointed out that the government was committed to ensuring that the decentralisation process achieved the desired objective.
Earlier, the Chief Director of the ministry, Mr D. A. Nyankamansu, who read a statement on behalf of the minister, said Section 38 (1) of the act provided that through a series of mergers, the 22 departments were to be reconstituted into 16 departments in the metropolitan assemblies, 13 in the municipal assemblies and 11 in the district assemblies.
He explained that Section 164 provided that “The Minister of Local Government shall, by a legislative instrument, prescribe the date for the coming into force of Sections 38 and 161 of the this Act”, which touched on the operationalisation of the local government system.
He also touched on the already created Local Government Service of which the staff of the newly established departments of the district assemblies were to become members, adding that members of staff working in the branches, divisions and units of the departments or organisations which had been merged shall be transferred to the relevant departments of the district assemblies and shall form part of the Local Government Service.
Mr Nyankamansu said the enactment of L.I 1961 was, therefore, to ensure the commencement of the functioning of the decentralised departments at the district level as departments of the district assemblies, adding that persons in the service of the local government system would be subject to effective control of local authorities for purposes of accountability and good governance as far as practicable.
The Chief Director said in view of the importance and seriousness attached to the decentralisation process, an inter-ministerial co-ordinating committee had been established under the chairmanship of the Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana to oversee the implementation of the key components of the programmes.
In addition, he pointed out that a technical committee/task force had commenced a ministerial realignment assignment to allocate functions, relationships, communications, responsibilities, budget, staff and logistics to the national, regional, and district levels of government.
He also said the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning would develop budget guidelines for composite budgeting to be used as the basis for funding MMDAs.
Mr Nyankamansu explained that the inter-ministerial co-ordinating committee had the responsibility to monitor the progress of implementation, resolve constraints and policy issues which were linked with the programme.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oil production and health (Feature)

AS Ghana prepares to produce oil in commercial quantities, it is important that all issues associated with oil production are brought to the fore and thoroughly discussed.
Significant among them is the health implications of oil production and how it could affect the lifestyle as well as their health. It is important for the health sector to identify some lifestyle-related diseases which could affect people as they work in the oil industry and earn more income. These diseases include hypertension, stroke, cancer, diabetes and other communicable diseases.
And again since there is the possibility of fire outbreaks, it is important to also deliberate on such occurrences as well as incidents of burns.
With stories from other countries which began oil production years ago, Ghana is in a better position to put in place interventions to forestall any unforeseen circumstances.
It is, therefore, necessary for local private medical practitioners to respond more quickly to health opportunities that will come with the oil business and place their facilities at the right places to take advantage of what will otherwise go to foreign medical services providers.
To help plan interventions, the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Society of Private Medical and Dental Practitioners Ghana, in collaboration with Shem Pharma Services Limited (Ghana) will organise the Second International Medical and Pharmaceutical Expo 2010 in August, this year.
Shem Pharma Service Limited is an organisation with the vision of providing a platform for health practitioners in both the private and public sectors to exchange innovative ideas in order to reduce the high incidence of medical errors in health-care delivery.
Dubbed "Medishop Expo 2010", the International Medical and Pharmaceutical Expo comes off at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) from August 19 – August 21, 2010.
The conference theme, which is “The Emerging Oil and Gas Wealth in Ghana-Environmental and Medical Challenges to our Community”, is said to be generating a lot of interest among medical practitioners.
Looking at the theme, at the end of the conference medical practitioners are expected to fully appreciate their role in the new industry and explore its financial benefit to them vis a vis their business.
A similar event which was organised last year on the theme sustaining the "National Insurance Health Scheme (NHIS) – Building the capacity of service providers", brought together experts who explained the concept of the NHIS and related issues to service providers.
With this year's event, participants are expected to unearth the medical opportunities that the new industry will bring to Ghanaians and prepare medical practitioners in particular and opinion leaders in the country. The event will also provide a platform for the exhibition of the biggest collection of pharmaceutical and medical equipment.
To achieve the conference objective, the organisers are bringing together resource persons who are experts in mineral and environmental health around the world, to give lectures and present papers on selected topics.
Among the speakers are top officials from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and Tullow Ghana Limited, Databank, the Ghana Health Service (GHS), as well as Momentum Ghana Limited.
These, according to the event organisers, might be the most authoritative people on occupational and environmental health issues and their implications to the medical industry.
The exhibition, which is expected to be part of the conference, is said to have assumed a more greater dimension with companies outside the country registering to participate as far back as February this year. The 100 booths provided for the exhibition have almost been fully booked and organisers hope to have a fully packed exhibition at the conference centre.

Governance at your door (Graphic Business)

Lucy Adoma Yeboah sums up the five-day First National Policy Fair held at the Accra International Conference.

One of the main aim of the government is to bring government to the door steps of the electorate. In this direction the Ministry of Information under one canopy brought the various ministries, agencis and departments together for the public to have insight into their operations.
The fair was designed to provide a platform for Ghanaians to get involved in governance and to enable them know the operations of government.
The five-day event, on the theme, “Engaging the Citizenry for A Better Ghana”, which was opened by the Vice-President, Mr John Dramani Mahama was to allow the citizenry engage with the leadership of the various institutions to appreciate their policies, programmes and activities.
Consequently, stands were provided at the fair for ministries, some government departments and agencies where individuals could make inquiries about issues involving those institutions and also make suggestions. The fair, which will be an annual affair will be replicated in all the regions
A total of 110 exhibitors made of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) took part in the fair and gave the public the opportunity to interact with their representatives at the stands.
As part of the event, experts were engaged to share their thoughts and insights on topics such as ‘Bridging the gap between the public and the private sectors in the policy formulation and implementation circle: A critical appraisal of the Ghanaian situation’; ‘The importance of a policy fair and how it can expedite development’, ‘The incursion into what kind of policies Ghana needs at this stage of her development’.
Opening the fair, Mr Mahama stressed that the initiative was underscored by the conviction that the enterprise of nation-building involved the collective effort of its entire population.
“To this end, the government expects to use this Policy Fair to further open up governance and get the ordinary Ghanaian to be part of the development process of this country,” he noted.
He said the opening of MDAs to the public would help demystify the art of governance by narrowing the interface between public sector institutions, the private sector and civil society organisations with the ordinary citizenry, thereby making government more interactive and relevant to every Ghanaian.
He said at every material time, the national interest should be paramount. “Public interest will, therefore, continue to be the driving principle behind any policy we initiate for implementation,” he stated.
For his part, the Minister of Information, Mr John Tia Akologo, said it was the hope of the ministry that the fair would help it collate information on government policies, projects and programmes, as well as deepen public consultation.
“In this way, the appropriate feedback from the public to the government will be achieved to afford the government the opportunity to formulate an acceptable development agenda for the nation,” he stated.
The Chairman for the occasion, Mr Paul Victor Obeng, said the fair had the objective of encouraging the people to participate in the ‘Better Ghana’ agenda being implemented by the Mills administration.
Speaking on the topic “ From Conception to Policy to Implementation: a critical appraisal of the Ghanaian Situation” Dr Tony Aidoo Chairman of the Policy Evaluation and Oversight Unit at the Presidency, called for a system that would encourage sustainability of policies, programmes and projects even after a change of government. The Executive Director of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Emmanuel Akwetey another contributor on the topic though commended the organisers of the Fair, said it would have been better if the various political parties had been involved to enable them to share ideas.
The two presenters decried the situation where a change of government always went with a change of ideas because each political party wanted to identify itself with a particular policy.
Setting the tone for an interesting public discussion, Dr Aidoo pointed out that policies, programmes and projects did not mean the same, and explained that "a policy is simply what we should do, programmes are plans of action and steps, and projects are activities under execution".
Touching on the topic, the former Deputy Minister of Defence came out with a number of factors, which he said frustrated long-term policy formulation and implementation in developing countries.
Those factors, he noted, included weak political will, partisan party politics and its concomitant intransigent positions, as well as weak institutional capacity in the areas of personnel, finance and technology.
Dr Akwetey suggested to the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) to tap all important issues raised in the manifestos of all the political parties for the benefit of the people.
He said the NDPC could serve a very useful purpose, since it was not a political party and therefore, could use those ideas embedded in the manifestos without being accused of 'stealing ideas' from a particular political party.
He stated that the nation was always the loser if politicians decided to keep ideas to themselves till their party came to power, adding that such an attitude did not enhance the development of the country.
At the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) Day which fell on April 30, the Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Mr Kwesi Ahwoi stated that unless Ghanaians consume what was produced locally, no amount of restrictions on imported goods can solve the problem of local producers.
He said although 20 per cent tariffs on imported food items had been put in place, the volume of imported foods to the country was still on the higher side.
Mr Ahwoi said the government had put in place a number of interventions to ensure maximum food production, adding that it was left with the people to encourage the local producers to produce more to feed the nation at all times, but not to depend on other countries which might have their own interests.
Earlier, the immediate past Chairman of the Poultry Farmers Association, Mr Ken Quartey, had indicated that numerous promises by both past and present governments to promote the agricultural industry had not made any significant impact.
Providing figures to support his claim, he said $30 million worth of poultry products was imported into the country in 2002, $160 million in 2008 and an estimated $250 million was imported in 2009.
Mr Quartey, who maintained that he had been in the poultry industry for the past 27 years, said until pragmatic efforts were made to boost the agricultural industry, no investor would invest in that sector and called for the establishment of a proposed Poultry Development Board to see to the development of poultry.
On the issue of oil and gas, the Chief Executive Officer of the Energy Commission, Dr Ofosu Ahenkorah, stated that Ghana's oil policy, as it stood currently, had in place measures to ensure full exploitation of resources, as well as judicious use of revenue.
On challenges, he mentioned how to achieve significant local content, prudent management of revenue, security issues, sustained interest in more oil exploitation and also to ensure that the environment was protected.
Mr Kwame Pianim, a renowned economist and a captain of industry, Nana Owusu Afari, identified lack of public participation as part of the reason for the poor monitoring and assessment of public sector policies.
Both argued that in cases where success indicators were defined, those indicators were not properly communicated to the beneficiaries to enable them to judge whether the objectives had been achieved or not.
Presenting papers at the fair on the topic, “Bridging the Gap Between the Public and the Private Sectors in Policy Implementation”, the two agreed that a lot more successes could have been achieved if the public, who were the main beneficiaries of government projects and programmes, were educated on such activities to enable them to monitor their success or otherwise.
Mr Pianim gave a number of reasons responsible for the gaps in policy implementation and identified lack of public involvement in policy formulation, failure to educate and inform the public on the rationale for the policies and their benefits to the public, as well as the opportunity cost of their implementation.
He touched on the lack of adequate institutional capacity in terms of public policy think tank to mount an effective and objective public debate to educate and inform the public on policy issues.
Mr Pianim, who declared his membership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at the function, suggested that political parties should be well resourced to enable them to undertake policy research to broaden their policy options and also be able to mount effective public debate to promote their policies and critique the policies of others.
He underscored the need to resource private sector trade associations and non-governmental organisations to participate in public policy dialogue with the government and its agencies to ensure results.
He, however, stated that “Perhaps the most critical source of gaps in policy implementation between the public and the private sectors is the Ghanaian cultural orientation that undermines any attempt at disciplined and orderly implementation of policies,” he declared.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Let's eat more of what we grow• Agric Minister urges Ghanaians

Sat. May 1, 2010

THE Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, has stated that unless Ghanaians consume what is produced locally, no amount of restrictions on imported goods can solve the problem of local producers.
He said although 20 per cent tariffs on imported food items had been put in place, the volume of imported foods to the country was still on the higher side.
Mr Ahwoi was answering questions at the dialogue session at the National Policy Fair in Accra yesterday.
The topic for agriculture day's discussion was: "An incursion into what kind of policies Ghana needs at this stage of her development — a review of our Agriculture and oil/gas polices.”
The broad theme of the five-day fair, which ends today, is, “Engaging the Citizenry for A Better Ghana”.
The fair, organised by the Ministry of Information, is meant to open the doors of all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to Ghanaians and enable the citizenry to engage with the leadership of those institutions to appreciate their policies, programmes and activities.
Mr Ahwoi said the government had put in place a number of interventions to ensure maximum food production, adding that it was left with the people to encourage the local producers to produce more to feed the nation at all times, but not to depend on other countries which might have their own interests.
Earlier, the immediate past Chairman of the Poultry Farmers Association, Mr Ken Quartey, had indicated that numerous promises by both past and present governments to promote the agricultural industry had not made any significant impact.
Providing figures to support his claim, he said $30 million worth of poultry products was imported into the country in 2002, $160 million in 2008 and an estimated $250 million was imported in 2009.
Mr Quartey, who maintained that he had been in the poultry industry for the past 27 years, said until pragmatic efforts were made to boost the agricultural industry, no investor would invest in that sector and called for the establishment of a proposed Poultry Development Board to see to the development of poultry.
For his part, a representative of the National Fisheries Association, Mr Joseph Nii Armah Quaye, commended the government for its efforts at providing premix on regular basis to fishermen.
He, however, reminded the MoFA of its promise to provide fishermen with cold stores and ice plants before the main fishing season in July.
A Deputy Minister of Food And Agriculture, Nii Amasa Namoale, said the government was bent on fulfilling its promise to farmers to ensure a vibrant agricultural sector.
On the issue of oil and gas, the Chief Executive Officer of the Energy Commission, Dr Ofosu Ahenkorah, stated that Ghana's oil policy, as it stood currently, had in place measures to ensure full exploitation of resources, as well as judicious use of revenue.
On challenges, he mentioned how to achieve significant local content, prudent management of revenue, security issues, sustained interest in more oil exploitation and also to ensure that the environment was protected.
Other speakers who contributed to the discussion were Dr Steve Manteaw of the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), Mr Albert Baddoo of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), the Chairman of the Fisheries Commission, Mr Mike Acheampong, and the Director of the National Food Buffer Stock Company,Mr Osei Wusu.
The Editor of the Daily Dispatch, Mr Ben Ephson, was the moderator for the discussion.