Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 IN RETROSPECT.....Modest gains made in the health sector

THE country’s health sector in the year 2010 continued with the good works the sector has been doing over the years. Notable among them are the efforts at the eradication of guinea worm and increase in immunisation coverage.
That is, in spite of the high incidence of maternal and child mortality which prompted the sector’s development partners to propose that maternal and child health be repositioned as a national emergency.
Ghana has a maternal mortality ratio of 350 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births (UN estimates of Ghana in 2008) and under five mortality ratio of 80 deaths per 1000 live births (GDHS 2008).
To the partners led by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the acute mortality issue will hugely affect the country’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adding that the goals could be achieved through greater focus on health systems strengthening. They also suggested that a lot could be done if Ghana prioritised primary health care and scale-up all interventions which had proven successful.
Maternal and Child Care
In the year under review, the health sector sought to intensify and implement strategies for children under five years of age and maternity women. That was done through continuation of existing inventions.
The specific interventions included: Free maternal and child health services under NHIS, equipping of hospitals with obstetric equipment, improving on referral system, leadership training to improve on staff attitude.
To meet the MDGs four and five by 2015, training of midwives is being expanded to include Community Health Officers (CHOs).
Other interventions
There were also interventions towards prevention, control and eradication of common illnesses and diseases including Malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS
There was the provision of adequate health infrastructure and equipment that will enhance the localisation of medical treatment.
Under the period, there was expanded coverage of CHPS including construction of additional 29 compounds as well as increase in access to primary healthcare services.
One-time Premium Payment
The government has stated its commitment to ensure unhindered financial access to healthcare for residents of the country through a one-time premium payment for membership of the NHIS.
Towards this end, a nation-wide survey to determine the willingness of the citizenry to pay the one-time premium was conducted in 2009 and in 2010. The roadmap towards the implementation of the one-time premium was developed awaiting passage of the new NHIS law to pave way for the launch.
Health Sector Bills
Due to the multiplicity of laws within the health sector, cabinet in June 2005 directed that the laws should be consolidated as appropriate to reduce the number of laws by grouping the various laws under specific subject matters. In line with this, the laws which were regrouped was sent to Cabinet for approval. Within the year under review, all nine bills were approved by Cabinet and forwarded to Parliament for approval as part of the Health Sector Legal Reform initiative.
They included the Health Services Bill, the Mental Health Bill, the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Bill, the Health Institutions and Facilities Bill, the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Bill, the Medical Research Training Bill, the Health Co-ordinating Council Bill, the Health Insurance Bill and the Public Health Bill.
Traditional Medicine Practice
One major achievement was the induction of 47 pioneer medical herbal practitioners into professional practice at a ceremony in Accra after they had completed six years of medical training.
The graduates completed four years of studies at the Department of Medicine at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and two years’ internship at the Mampong Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine.
To ensure equitable health care for all, the following key projects were completed in the health sector in the fiscal year 2010:-600,000 Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits for the confirmation of malaria cases were supplied; the 100-bed hospital with Malaria Research Centre at Teshie, Accra was completed; five Polyclinics in the Northern Region (one each at Kpandai, Tatale, Kanga, Chereponi and Karaga); and 21 health centres were completed.
In addition, phase two of the rehabilitation and the upgrading of Bolgatanga Regional Hospital was completed; essential nutrition actions, aimed at preventing neo-natal deaths and enhancing health services for children, were implemented in all the 10 regions of the country and also 140 trainers of trainers were exposed to the use of the new World Health Organisation Growth Chart.
The rest are; five new midwifery training colleges established to run courses in Post Basic Certificate in Midwifery
Way forward
At a five-day health summit held in November, concerns were raised over the weak level of governance at the district level. The meeting
agreed that leadership and governance at all levels form an essential component of health system strengthening, and endorsed the current initiative, the Leadership Development Programme, on which MOH and GHS have started to develop capacity within the system.
Noting that facilities supervision systems in the sector were weak, the meeting was briefed on the initiative in Upper West Region on support and supervision systems. It was agreed on that the UWR initiative should be explored further as a way of addressing the weak supervision systems.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

EC: WE'RE SORRY. We're tied down by quantum of work (Front Page)

THE Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has apologised to Ghanaians for the widespread inconvenience caused to candidates and voters in the district level elections.
The EC boss also appealed to the electorate not to be disappointed but exercise their franchise by voting massively within their localities at the opportune time.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, Dr Afari-Gyan said, “yes, we will apologise to the Ghanaian electorate for the inconvenience but not any political party because the election is not partisan”.
He explained that the problem arose because of the quantum of work involved in the exercise, especially the number of ballot papers to be printed but not lack of funds.
He said just like all elections in the country, money was not released in bulk but rather based on the timetable/schedule prepared by the EC to the government.
Dr Afari-Gyan, who spoke from the field where he took part in monitoring the election process, said the Commission could not complete the work on time due to the fact that it had to wait for Parliament to finish its work on the instrument involving the local level elections.
Giving other reasons for the uncertainties, Dr Afari-Gyan said since both the district level and unit committee elections were being held on the same day, it involved the printing of more than 12,000 different sets of ballot papers.
He also said the number of candidates in the electoral areas was overwhelming such that in one particular electoral area, as many as 42 candidates stood for the position of a unit committee member.
He said unlike the presidential and parliamentary elections which involved fewer numbers of people, the local level elections involved thousands of candidates who all had to have their pictures on the ballot papers to enable voters to identify and vote for them.
When he was asked why so many people were allowed to stand in one area, Dr Afari-Gyan said “there is no way anybody could stop a qualified candidate who wants to stand. Until we find a constitutional way to deal with that, we will continue to see such things”.
On the postponements which were announced after the initial one, the Electoral Commissioner said those were local arrangements involving the regional and district directorates of the EC which thought they needed time to get things right.
When contacted, the Local Government Minister, Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, appealed to Ghanaians to bear with the EC to enable it to carry through the ongoing local level elections.
Mr Chireh, who said he was returning from his home town in the Upper West Region after voting, said what was going on as far as the election was concerned was regrettable and urged the electorate to exercise patience and support the EC to discharge its mandate.
Mr Chireh explained that the EC needed to carry out the exercise at all cost because any postponement would affect the Commission's preparation towards the next general election scheduled for December 2012.
The minister also pointed out that there was the need for the election to be held since all the 170 metropolitan, municipal and districts (MMDAs) had been without assembly members since October 30, 2010.
The postponement of the district level elections in eight regions across the country on December 28, 2010, the day scheduled for the elections in all the 10 regions of the country, was said to have caused confusion in some electoral areas since many of the voters did not hear of the changes on time.
Meanwhile some voters the Daily Graphic interviewed said the situation had made the whole exercise confusing and that it was likely to kill voters’ enthusiasm and willingness to vote.
One such voter, Mr Tetteh Mensah, told the Daily Graphic at Kaneshie yesterday that he travelled from Agona Swedru in the Central Region to Accra to vote but had to go back since he was expected to report for duty today, the day voters in the Greater Accra are finally expected to vote.
The 1992 Constitution provides that elections of the district assemblies shall be held every four years, except that those elections and elections to Parliament shall be held at least six months apart.
In the absence of the assembly members at the various MMDAs, the chief executives and the co-ordinating directors hold the fort but in some cases, they would have to get an approval from the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development before certain decisions concerning the area could be taken.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Breast cancer treatment, early detection is key

Doctors contend that early detection of breast cancer enhances treatment and increases survival rate of patients. For this reason, participants at a three-day workshop in Accra raised concerns as to why the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) covers breast cancer treatment but not screening for the disease.
The issue was brought to the fore by the Manager of the Non-Communicable Disease Control Programme of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr William K. Bosu, who recommended to the government for inclusion of cancer screening under the NHIS.
The??? was at the end of a three-day workshop on Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Breast Cancer Control and Policy Development in Ghana in Accra. The programme was organised by the Ghana Cancer Society with support from Ghana Health Service (GHS), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Participants were of the view that the survival rate of the disease could increase if the NHIS covers screening services for clients to enable those who have it present themselves for early treatment.
Breast cancer (malignant breast neoplasm) is a condition that originates from breast tissue, most commonly from the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply the ducts with milk.
World-wide, breast cancer constitutes 10.4 per cent of all cancer incidence among women, making it the most common type of non-skin cancer in women and the fifth most common cause of cancer death.
The report adds that the number of cases is set to increase in the coming decade given our healthy lifestyles, rapid urbanisation and increased survival.
Breast cancer is about 100 times more common in women than in men, although males tend to have poorer outcomes due to delays in diagnosis.
Quoting from a WHO report, the Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Robert Joseph Mettle-Nunoo, said 17,000 new cancer cases and 13,000 cancer deaths occur each year.
In 1996, cancers were the third leading cause of deaths at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH). These accounted for 2.6 per cent of all admissions and 5.6 per cent of all the 2,502 deaths at the KBTH. Fifteen per cent of all patients with cancer died.
In all these, breast cancer was considered the sixth commonest cause of admission in women aged between 45 and 64 and the disease constituted 12.8 per cent of all cancer admission.
The term cancer typically evokes fear of pain and death among many members of society. There are misconception about causes, treatment and effects. In our part of the world, cancers are sometimes linked to witchcraft. In the case of breast cancer, there is the fear of one losing one’s breast under the surgeon’s knife.
Another point worth discussing is the fact that in Ghana there is little access to systematic screening to detect the potential incidence of breast, cervical and prostrate cancers.
These factors partly explains why the average duration of symptoms among patients seen at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital within a three-year period is said to be about 10 months.
According to Mr Mettle-Nunoo, among these patients, the interval between when symptoms were first noticed to the time of presentation ranged from two weeks to five years.
The WHO revealed that the number of cancer cases was set to increase in the coming decade given our healthy lifestyles, rapid urbanisation and increased survival.
It also estimated that in low and middle income countries, alcohol use, over weight and obesity, and physical inactivity were the underlying factors in 18 per cent of breast cancers. The prevalence of several of these risk factors is said to be worsening.
For instance in Ghana, the proportion of women who were overweight or obese increased from 13 per cent in 1993 to 30 per cent in 2008.
Contrary to popular belief, breast cancer affects young women. The average age of cases from the KBTH was 41 years. The cases actually ranged from 24-75 years and a third of the cases were aged 40-49 years. Fourteen per cent of the cases were said to be unsuitable for breast surgery due to the advanced stage of the case and 26 per cent also ran away (absconded) from surgery or refused it.
In spite of these worrisome statistics, there is hope after all since according to the WHO, about one-third of all cancer cases are preventable through changes in lifestyle such as stopping smoking, consuming healthy food, immunising against infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, and human papilloma virus, treating certain infections linked to cancers and avoiding exposure to cancer causing elements (carcinogens).
It is also a welcoming news to know that one-third of cancer cases could be treated effectively if detected early.
The government has secured a loan of US$13.5 million to improve radiotherapy facilities at the KBTH and the Komfo Anokye Teaching hospitals, as well as to strengthen screening and prevention programmes. The Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons has over the past few years, been training specialists to provide cancer care in the country.
With these in place and the efforts being made by some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) notably Reach for Recovery Ghana, Breast Care International, Mamocare, Palliative Care Society of Ghana and the Cancer Society of Ghana, we hope to see reduction in cancer cases in Ghana.

Korle Bu establishes complaints desks

THE Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) has established information and complaints desks at the various out patients departments (OPDs) to afford clients and patients the opportunity to seek redress for their grievances instead of going to the media.
In addition, the hospital is to form a Clinical Ethics and Professional Committee to address concerns and grievances of patients and clients.
At a media briefing in Accra last Friday, the Chief Administrator of the hospital, Professor Nii Otu, said the committee would comprise experienced medical and para-medical professionals, religious leaders and individuals from other interest groups.
He said such a committee would help the hospital to step up its drive to improve quality health care, adding that “the core duty of the committee would be to address grievances of patients and clients bordering on our services.”
Briefing media practitioners on the progress made on the installation of new lifts and other developments at the hospital, he said the new lifts had been procured and installation work had begun.
Prof. Nartey said the acquisition of the lifts needed for some of the blocks within the hospital had delayed because of the new procurement procedures as well as the need to dismantle the old ones before the new ones could be installed.
He said the lifts were procured with funds from the government through the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) at the cost of GH¢2.4 million.
He pointed out that work was going on steadily and all the 13 lifts would be installed and handed over to the hospital by the end of March 2011, barring any unforeseen contingencies.
He further stated that work on the installation of the lift at the Maternity Block had progressed, with assurance from the contractor that it would be completely fixed before the end of January next year. After that, work will also begin at the Child Health Department, Department of Medicine, Allied Surgery Sub-BMC and the Radiology blocks.
Prof. Nartey said the installation work was being handled in a calculated manner in order not to disrupt service provision to patients and clients and expressed gratitude to patients, staff and visitors to the hospital for their patience in spite of the inconveniences associated with the replacement of the lifts.
Reacting to a question as to why the NHIA assisted the KBTH in the purchase of the lifts even though the authority owed the hospital huge sums of money in claims, Mr George Oppong, a Public Relations Officer at the Corporate Affairs Division of the NHIA, told the Daily Graphic that the authority had separate funds for different purposes.
He pointed out that the authority had, as part of its mandate, the responsibility to enhance services at the accredited health facilities, adding that it had previously assisted in the installation of a helicopter landing pad at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New vaccine for Africa (Graphic Business)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010
A NEW conjugate vaccine against meningococcal A which costs $0.5 a dose and developed for use in Africa. has been launched in a national vaccination programme in Burkina Faso.
The campaign to vaccinate all children and young adults from the ages of one to 29 years with the vaccine, MenAfriVac, began in Burkina Faso on December 6, 2010. Niger and Mali will follow with similar vaccination campaigns with other countries awaiting their turn.
“MenAfriVac has been developed specifically for Africa—to provide protection against meningitis A, the commonest form of the disease in African countries, and at an affordable price,” said Mark LaForce, the Director of the PATH Meningitis Vaccine Project.
Until now, the only measure to reduce the impact of meningitis has been reactive vaccination programmes with polysaccharide vaccines, but these provide protection for only about one year and not the long-lasting cover required for a preventive vaccination programme.
In a release ahead of the vaccination campaign in Burkina Faso, Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, Director of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biological with the World Health Organisation (WHO), said “Having this new vaccine is a huge accomplishment in public health because it will affect the lives of 450 million people who are at risk of this disease and who live in the well documented African meningitis belt.”
The model has been described as dramatically different to the usual patent-based, profit driven model. Its developers have succeeded in tailoring the product to suit developing country medical needs, and keeping the vaccine affordable. This is a contrast to the blockbuster vaccines developed by the largest commercial developers for Western markets, that fetch extremely high prices and are not produced with developing country needs in mind.
It is estimated that at least 70 per cent of the population in meningitis belt countries would need to receive at least one dose of the new vaccine to establish herd immunity. After the initial catch-up vaccination programme in each country, regular campaigns will be needed to vaccinate new birth cohorts.
Clinical trials with MenAfriVac have shown the vaccine is safe and highly immunogenic, achieving 95 per cent protection. Protection lasts for 10-15 years, but long-term surveillance studies will establish whether a booster dose is needed to maintain immunity.
The Meningitis Vaccine Project has adopted a new paradigm for developing vaccines for low income countries.
It started with research in Africa to understand the constraints previously limiting the development of new vaccines in countries in the meningitis belt. African public health officials emphasised vaccine price as a key component and suggested that unless a new vaccine cost less than $0.5 per dose, it would not be sustainable.
The project brought together a consortium in which different companies and organisations provided the technical expertise to develop the vaccine, supplied basic materials and manufactured the vaccine at an affordable price.
“The fact that the project to develop this vaccine was tailored to the needs of the meningitis belt in Africa at a price that they could pay, is a real breakthrough and should be used for other problems of this sort,” said Cathy Hewison, medical adviser with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
MSF welcomed the vaccination campaigns in Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali but called for further funding to extend provision to other African countries.
So far, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation has only committed to helping pay for vaccines in the first three countries and no donor has offered financing for campaigns elsewhere.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Audit Agency to deepen accountability

THE Internal Audit Agency (IAA) says it will make efforts to increase public access to information on internal audit activities as part of its re-branding strategy.
That would be done through the employment of a multi-media approach to effectively market the unique product of a value-added internal audit functions.
This was made known by the Board Chairman of the IAA, Nii Adumansa-Baddoo, at a strategic planning workshop held at Sogakope in the Volta Region.
Participants in the workshop were members of the agency’s executive management as well as representatives of the Internal Audit Units of the various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).
The key focus of the new strategic direction of the IAA is the re-branding and effective promotion of internal audit practice in Ghana.
The rationale is to bring internal audit functions to the forefront of the national developmental agenda through the building of strategic partnership with the relevant stakeholders such as the Ghana Audit Service, the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), the legislature, the judiciary, the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and the media, among other stakeholders.
Addressing the participants, Nii Adumansa-Baddoo said the IAA Board was planning to chart a new direction for the agency that would drive its vision of providing value-added internal audit services to all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
“This is particularly so, given the fact that at this stage of Ghana’s democratic governance, most well-meaning Ghanaians would expect the IAA to make a much greater impact by leading the crusade against corruption and promoting probity and accountability within the public sector,” he pointed out.
To achieve its aim, the IAA board is advocating the consolidation of the internal audit resources of the MDAs and metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) under one umbrella which would then be considered as the head of the Internal Audit Class.
The proposed change, when implemented, will ensure the independence, objectivity and protection of internal auditors in line with international standards on the practice of internal audit profession.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

‘Develop staffing norms in health sector’ (Mirror)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

stakeholders in the health sector have raised concerns on the continuing inequalities in the distribution of health professionals in the country and, therefore, called for the development of staffing norms to improve human resource distribution in the country.
This was contained in an aide memoir signed by the Ministry of Health, its development partners and other stakeholders after a five-day health summit held in Accra on the theme: "Going beyond strategy to action: Accelerating activities towards meeting the MDGs".
At a ceremony in Accra, the Minister of Health, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, signed the document on behalf of the Government of Ghana while the Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Ghana, Dr Daniel Kertesz, and representatives of the other development partners signed on behalf of their respective organisations.
The aide memoir represents the discussions, conclusions and agreements arrived at during the November 2010 health summit and the business meeting between the MoH, development partners and interest groups within the health sector.
The meeting considered various comments and recommendations from the summit and agreed that a limited number of priorities should be identified for each strategic objective.
Challenges in the area of performance management were also discussed. It was agreed that inter-agency performance management systems should be firmed up, while individual agencies were encouraged to initiate staff performance appraisal.
Concerning leadership and governance, concerns were also raised about the weak level of governance at the district level.
The meeting ,therefore, agreed that leadership and governance at all levels formed an essential component of health system strengthening and endorsed the current initiative- the Leadership Development Programme which MoH and GHS had adopted to develop capacity within the system.
Noting that facilitative supervision systems in the sector were weak, the meeting was briefed on the initiative on support and supervision systems adopted in the Upper West Region (UWR). It was agreed that the UWR initiative should be explored further as a way of addressing the weak supervision systems.
Another significant issue discussed at the meeting was malaria. It was agreed that because of the fragmented implementation of malarial interventions, further discussion on the disease was required, and should take place within the context of the existing strategic plan for malarial prevention and control.
To achieve the desired objective as far as malarial control was concerned, the MoH was tasked to convene a meeting between technical experts and implementing agencies on the way forward by the end of June 2011.
Concerning future reviews and summits, it was noted that there was increasing recognition that the funding implications for such activities could change in the future and that MoH and the health partners needed to reflect upon potential future funding modalities for these critical activities.
Dr Kunbuor commended the health partners for their support for Ghana over the years and pointed out that aide memoir would serve as a guide for all activities within the health sector.
Dr Kertezs expressed happiness at the outcome of the summit, adding that for once, specific issues which were related to the theme for the event should be discussed and recommendations made.
The Health Summit which reviewed the draft 2011 annual Programme of Work , came off from November 22- 26, 2010 at GIMPA.
Participants were drawn from government Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDA), the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, academia, civil society, private sector and development partners.
The summit began with an update on the Sector Medium Term Development Plan (SMTDP), followed by the findings of the Joint Assessment of National Strategies (JANS) mission.
The opening ceremony came off on the first afternoon, with joint chairmanship from the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Fiifi Kwetey, and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health and Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Alhaji Dr Mustapha Ahmed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

GHS undertakes deworming exercise -To fight elephantiasis

Story: Lucy Adoma Yeboah
THE Ghana Health Service (GHS) and its development partners have over the years implemented a number of interventions which have proven to be globally effective in the control of a worrisome disease called lymphatic filariasis.
In that direction, the Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate has devoted the period between December 13 to 17, 2010 to embark on mass administration of dewormer (Albendazole and Ivermectin) to prevent the infection which could bring about elephantiasis.
A statement from the directorate and signed by Ms Honesty Numetu, the Head of Health Promotion Unit (HPU) indicated that the lymphatic filariasis could render an individual inactive, less productive and prevent him/her from socialising.
For families, infection could force them into poverty, malnutrition and with communities they could experience famine, less communal labour and outbreak of other diseases due to filthy environment.
Filariasis is a parasitic disease and is considered an infectious tropical disease, that is caused by thread-like filarial nematodes (roundworms).
Filariasis is "considered" endemic in tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia, Africa, Central, South America and Pacific Island nations, with more than 120 million people infected and one billion people at risk of infection.
In communities where lymphatic filariasis is endemic, as many as 10 per cent of women can be afflicted with swollen limbs, and 50 per cent of men can suffer from mutilating genital symptoms.
There are eight known filarial nematodes which use humans as host. In all cases, the transmitting vectors are either blood sucking insects such as flies or mosquitoes over a long period of time.
Human filarial nematode worms have a complicated life cycle, which primarily consist of five stages. After the male and female worms mate, the female gives birth to live micro-filariae by the thousands. The micro-filariae are taken up by the vector insect (intermediate host) during a blood meal. In the intermediate host, the micro-filariae moult develop into third stage larvae. Upon taking another blood meal, the vector insect injects the infectious larvae into the dermis layer of the skin. After about one year, the larvae moult through two more stages, mature into the adult worms.
The disease is spread from person to person by mosquito bites. When mosquito bites a person who has lymphatic filariasis, microscopic worms circulating in the person’s blood enter and infect the mosquito. Human beings get lymphatic filariasis from the bite of an infected mosquito. The microscopic worms pass from the mosquito through the skin and travel to the lymph vessels. In the lymph vessel, they grow into adults. An adult worm lives for about five to seven years.
The adult worms mate and release millions of microscopic worms, called micro-filarae, into the blood. People with the worm in their blood can give the infection to others through mosquito bites.
Repeated mosquito bites over several months to years as well as people who live in endemic areas are at risk.
Signs and symptoms
The most spectacular symptom of lymphatic filariasis is elephantiasis—oedema with thickening of the skin and underlying tissues —which was the first disease discovered to be transmitted by mosquito bites. Elephantiasis results when the parasites lodge in the lymphatic system.
Elephantiasis affects mainly the lower extremities, while the ears, mucus membrane and amputation stumps are affected less frequently. However, different species of filarial worms tend to affect different parts of the body such as the legs, arms, vulva, breasts and scrotum.
Most people develop these clinical manifestation years after being infected. It is caused by the inability of the body to fight infections due to swelling and decrease function of the lymph system. This results in the hardening and thickening of the skin, which is known as elephantiasis.
In 1993, the International Task Force for Disease Eradication declared lymphatic filariasis to be one of six potentially eradicable diseases.
Studies have shown that transmission of the infection can be broken when a single dose of combined oral medicines is consistently maintained annually for approximately seven years.
With consistent treatment, and since the disease needs a human host, the reduction of micro-filariae will not be transmitted, the adult worms will die out and the cycle will be broken.
In Ghana, there are free pills called Albendazole and Ivermectin which could be taken to prevent it. The pill is taken once a year.
The drug is for everybody aged five years and above with height ranging from 90 centimetres and above, however, children under five years, pregnant and lactating mothers and seriously ill patients would not be given the drug.
The strategy for eliminating transmission of lymphatic filariasis is mass distribution of medicines that kill the micro-filariae and stops transmission of the parasite by mosquitoes in endemic communities.
It can also be prevented if people avoid mosquito bites between the hours of dusk and dawn, sleep under treated mosquito nets, wear long sleeves and trousers and use mosquito repellent on exposed skin between dusk and dawn.
The deworming exercise is starting from Monday, December 13, to
Friday, December17, 2010 and people have therefore been advised to avail themselves of the drug. Volunteers would move from house to house to administer the drug in the endemic districts of Ledzokuku Krowor, Ga West, Ga East, Ga South, Ayawaso, La, Ablekuma and Ashiedu Keteke within the Greater Accra Region.
The GHS advise that people with swollen legs, scrotum and any other parts should seek healthcare from the nearest health facility.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Govt to install speed cameras on highways— As a measure to improve road safety

THE Ministry of Transport will next year introduce speed cameras at vantage points throughout the country to improve road safety.
In that direction, a service agreement has already been signed with some operators under the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme for work to begin.
The Minister of Transport, Mr Mike Hammah, disclosed this when he took his turn at the weekly meet-the-press programme in Accra yesterday.
He described the carnage on our roads as unacceptable and identified old and dilapidated commercial vehicles plying the roads as part of the problem, adding that those vehicles must be removed.
He reiterated that when the new road traffic regulation finally became law, a ban would be placed on the use of mobile phones while driving, while everything possible would be done to reduce the tragedies on our roads, if not eliminate them completely.
In addition, Mr Hammah said the ministry would collaborate with the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) to engage some youth for road safety education in schools as part of the road safety programme.
The Transport Minister pointed out that the proposed law had provision to ensure disability friendliness in commercial vehicles to make things easier for the disabled who had to struggle to access public transport.
To make it easier for the public to travel, the government supplied 50 additional buses to the Metro Mass Transit (MMT) in March 2010, he said.
On the rail sector, the minister indicated that the ministry had plans to rehabilitate the Western rail line, as well as existing sub-urban railway lines, extend the rail line from the Tema Port to Japan Motors, embark on feasibility studies and the construction of the proposed ECOWAS rail line on the Aflao-Winneba-Cape Coast-Omapa route, modernise the Eastern line comprising the Accra-Kumasi-Paga rail lines, among other projects.
On the Boankra Inland Port project, Mr Hammah said the installation of utilities, which was the first phase of the three-phase project, was completed, a development which had opened the way for companies in the private sector to show interest in the long-awaited project.
He stated that three patrol boats had been acquired for surveillance on the Volta Lake, while 2,300 lifeguards had been trained to save lives on the lake.
He touched on the continuation of the modernisation of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), a project to develop the Tamale Airport to serve as an alternative to the KIA and also ways to encourage more domestic airlines with opportunities for neighbourhood flights in line with the Yamoussoukro Decision and the Banjul Accord.
The ministry, according to Mr Hammah, had the mandate to ensure a safe, efficient, reliable, effective and accessible transport system with the provision, expansion and maintenance of infrastructure and services to make Ghana the transportation hub in the sub-region.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ghana makes efforts to curb child labour

CHILD labour refers to the engagement of children in exploitative labour. This practice is considered exploitative by many international organisations and is illegal in many countries.
In many developed countries, it is considered inappropriate or exploitative if a child below a certain age is made to perform certain duties. These however exclude household chores, assisting in a family shop, or school-related work.
In those countries, an employer is usually not permitted to hire a child below the minimum age, mostly below 18 years. This minimum age depends on the country and the type of work involved.
But what do we see in developing countries such as Ghana? Child labour is very prevalent in most, if not all developing countries. In 2008 there were about 215 million children working illegally in the eyes of international law across the world. About 14 per cent of children around the world under age 18 are said to be engaged in child labour. In addition, an estimated number of 115 million children under age 14 are said to be engaged in hazardous work.
These hazardous works include handling of chemicals, carrying of heavy loads and enduring long hours of work, which threaten the safety and health of these children.
In Ghana, the Western and Eastern regions of the country, as well as the three regions of the North, have the most reported cases of child labour. Majority of these children are engaged in hazardous forms of labour.
One major problem which causes child labour in Ghana is poverty. There are reports to indicate that poor parents who can hardly fend for themselves and their children send their under-aged children to work under unfavourable conditions, sometimes away from home and in strange lands.
Attempt to eliminate child labour have most of the time failed because of the high rate of illiteracy. Poor parents are unable to send their children to school either because of high cost of schooling or inaccessibility. In some cases cultural pressures also undermine long term value of education especially for the girl child. Because of this, girls are most often compelled to quit education for marriage at a tender age.
In most cases, poor parents who find it difficult to make ends meet sell out their children to child traffickers who in turn use them for all manner of work.
These children are sometimes sold into slavery, engaged in hazardous activities, such as rock quarrying in mining areas, illegal mining activities, fishing especially in the coastal areas and on the Volta Lake and other big rivers in parts of the country.
The news that Ghana now has a Child Labour Monitoring System in place, is therefore a welcome news. That is in addition to the development of a National Plan of Action for the elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labour in Ghana. The Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Mr E. T Mensah made reference to the issue at a recent meet-the-press in Accra and said the initiatives were being worked at in collaboration with other agencies.
The document, according to the Minister had been approved of by Cabinet for implementation to benefit the Ghanaian child.
Touching on the child labour monitoring system, he said it was initiated to help combat child labour in Ghana. It is a data-base monitoring system in which active mechanism of repeated observation and identification are used to track down child labour cases.
It facilitates effective child labour interventions by identifying child labourers and linking them to satisfactory and sustainable alternatives such as schooling and skill training.
Mr Mensah noted that there had been several actions taken by various agencies of governmental, non- governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations and other corporate bodies towards eliminating child labour.
The purpose of Child Labour Monitoring System is to integrate efforts of all interest groups into action to achieve a common goal of eliminating child labour.
Several laws have been passed by the government on child labour. A number of treaties have also been signed to guard against exploitative child labour. Article 28 of the 1992 constitution prohibits labour considered as injurious to the health, education or development of a child.
As we all know, Ghana has also signed three key international treaties that ban certain practices of child labour. There is also the Children’s Act of 1998 and the Labour Act of 2003, both of which address child labour in details but the problem still persists.
It is unfortunate that,in spite of all these efforts, child labour persists in Ghana even though there seem to be some reduction in recent time as many parents prefer to send their children to school.
Child labour in Ghana, according to child rights activists has been the result of poverty, illiteracy or lack of education as well as less stringent implementation of child labour laws.
To help reduce the phenomenon, the government should make education more accessible to children through the provision of infrustructural facilities and educational materials.
For their parts, parents should be held responsible for the neglect of the upbringing of their children and to ensure that the guidelines as contained in the Child Labour Monitoring System, works; monitoring system should be effective.

Construction to attract VAT, NHIL

CONSTRUCTION works will next year attract Value Added Tax (VAT) and National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL).
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Ghana Institute of Surveyors (GhIS) have, therefore, begun a series of educational programmes to bring to the notice of the public and especially contractors, consultants, employers, clients and other stakeholders in the construction industry the need to comply.
At a press conference held in Accra yesterday, the President of the GhIS, Ms Yvonne Sowah, said the educational programmes had become necessary because even though the amended VAT Law, Act 629 of 2002, required that works contract attracted VAT and NHIL, that had largely been overlooked.
She said non-compliance with the law had occurred among parties in the construction industry in Ghana because of implementation challenges which had brought in the GhIS and other stakeholders to address.
She noted that before applying the remedies for non-compliance, the GRA thought it prudent to fine-tune the guidelines and develop methodology, which included the modalities and procedures for the application of VAT in the construction industry in the country.
“Furthermore, the GhIS intends to use this forum to inform the general public that beginning from 2011, the GRA shall apply the necessary sanctions for non-compliance with the application of VAT to construction in accordance with the amended VAT Law, Act 629 of 2002,” she stated.
The Commissioner General of the GRA, Mr George Blankson, said authority had made it a point to interact with the affected groups and individuals in the construction industry to ensure that proper understanding of the issue was achieved.
He explained that tax from the sector would help in developing the nation and, therefore, asked those affected to comply.
Mr Blankson said the application of the tax was not new, since it was introduced in 2002, adding that some contractors had already started paying.
He said if fully implemented, it would broaden the country’s tax base and ensure that tax levels became tolerable and manageable for all taxpayers.
The GRA Commissioner indicated that the payment of VAT and NHIL on construction works by contractors would encourage other professionals such as lawyers, doctors and accountants to emulate the practice.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Health directorate embarks on deworming exercise

Story: Lucy Adoma Yeboah
THE Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate has devoted December 13 and December 17, 2010 to embark on mass administration of dewormer for the prevention of Lymphatic Filariasis (elephantiasis) in parts of the region.
The drug, Albendazole and Ivermectin, according to a statement from the directorate, would be administered in the endemic districts of Ledzokuku Krowor, Ga West, Ga East, Ga South, Ayawaso, La, Ablekuma and Ashiedu Keteke, all in the Greater Accra Region.
The statement which was signed by the Head of the Health Promotion Unit (HPU), Ms Honesty Numetu, indicated that during the period volunteers would move from house to house to administer the drug and advised people within the affected communities to avail themselves for the exercise to protect themselves from the disease.
In addition, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) had also advised that people with swollen legs, scrotum and any other parts of their body should seek treatment from the nearest health facility.
It explained that the drug was for everybody aged five years and above with height ranging from 90 centimetres and above, however, children under five years, pregnant and lactating mothers and seriously ill patients would not be given.
Studies have demonstrated that transmission of the infection can be broken when a single dose of combined oral medicines is consistently administered annually for approximately seven years.
In Ghana, Albendazole and Ivermectin can be taken once in a year to prevent it.
Additional information provided by the GHS indicated that the lymphatic filariasis is spread from person to person by mosquito bites.
When a mosquito bites a person who has lymphatic filariasis, microscopic worms circulating in the person’s blood enter and infect the mosquito. Human beings get lymphatic filariasis from the bite of an infected mosquito.
The microscopic worms pass from the mosquito through the skin and travel to the lymph vessels. In the lymph vessel, they grow into adults. An adult worm lives for about five to seven years.
The statement indicated that when infected with lymphatic filariasis , an individual could be rendered inactive, less productive and could not socialise.
Filariasis is a parasitic disease and considered an infectious tropical disease that is caused by thread-like filarial nematodes (roundworms).

REST AT LAST - For Gambia victims

Sat. December 11, 2010

THE eight Ghanaians who lost their lives in The Gambia under tragic and strange circumstances in July 2005 were yesterday given final resting places at the Osu Cemetery, after a state-assisted funeral at the Forecourt of the State House.
The deceased comprised six males who were identified, as well as two others whose identities were not known but were believed to be Ghanaians.
The six were Prince Nkrumah Mensah, who was said to have come from the Ashanti Region but the actual town remained unknown, and Isaac Kwadwo Ampadu, whose home town was not known.
The rest were Richmond Addai, Asokore; Kwaku Agyekum, Effiduase; Eric Kwasi Nketia, Jaman North District in the Brong Ahafo Region, and Kwabena Kissi, Asiri.
The bodies were carried to the funeral grounds by personnel of the Ghana Police Service amidst the singing of hymns by the Tema Youth Choir. Poems were recited and dirges were also sung in their memory.
Present at the solemn ceremony were Ministers of State, Members of Parliament (MPs) from the various political parties, members of the Council of State, members of the Diplomatic Corps, the clergy, traditional rulers, as well as family members of both the deceased and those reported to be missing.
Mr Martin Kyere, the only survivor of the gruesome act who first broke the news, was also present and made a short statement.
He commended the government and other interested groups and individuals who had supported his call for investigations into the matter.
Conspicuously missing was a delegation from The Gambia which, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and National Integration, Alhaji Mohammad Mumuni, could not attend because of flight problems.
As the ceremony proceeded, some female members of the bereaved families were seen wailing while mentioning the names of their lost relations.
Delivering the sermon, which was based on Psalm 23, Romans 6:3-9 and John 11:20-27, the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana, Rt Rev Dr Paul Kofi Fynn, advised Ghanaians not to spend too much on funerals and the dead but rather spend their resources on the betterment of the living.
In a statement, Alhaji Mumuni gave the assurance that the government would continue to follow up on any leads which could help the country to find out what exactly happened on that fateful day on the seas of The Gambia.
He took the opportunity to advise Ghanaians, especially the youth, not to embark on illegal journeys which might put their lives in danger.
A spokesperson for the bereaved families, Mr Oduro Mensah, expressed gratitude to the government and the various human rights activists who had supported the families in their effort to get the matter investigated and also bring home the remains of their loved ones.
Yesterday’s ceremony took place after five years of controversy over the death of some Ghanaians in The Gambia which had nearly sparked a conflict between the two countries.
The resolution of the matter followed the findings and recommendations made by a joint United Nations/Economic Community of West African States (UN/ECOWAS) investigation team.
Though the report did not blame The Gambian government as having had a hand in the death of the Ghanaians, the Gambian government agreed to make a donation of US$500,000 to the families of the deceased towards the burial and funeral rites of the dead.
The contribution made by the Gambian government was received on January 7, 2010.
In July 2005, a number of Ghanaians lost their lives, while others were unaccounted for, in rather tragic and strange circumstances in The Gambia.
The issue was first reported by the only survivor of the incident, Mr Kyere, who alerted the security agencies.
At the initial stages, the number of the dead was reported to be 44, but investigations into the incident revealed that six people had rather lost their lives, while others were unaccounted for.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Minister blames delayed migration onto SSSS on lack of data

The Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, has slammed some institutions in the public sector for the slow pace at which they are providing data to enable their employees to be migrated onto the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).
He did not name the institutions involved but said the situation was leading to accusations that the government was deliberately slowing the process to defer the implementation date of the SSSS to next year.
Consequently, Mr Mensah said the ministry had planned to hold meetings with those institutions in the next few days to resolve the sticky points which were preventing them from providing the necessary data to fast-track the implementation process.
Speaking at his turn at the weekly meet-the-press series in Accra yesterday, the minister said the reluctance of those institutions to submit data for the migration was due to the fact that they did not have evidence of approval for some of the current allowances they were enjoying from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
He said another reason for that attitude was the unauthorised use of internally generated funds by some institutions to pay allowances not approved by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and said some of the institutions feared that the disclosure of those unapproved allowances would lead to their withdrawal by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC).
Mr Mensah hinted that by the end of December, five more institutions, comprising the GRATIS Foundation, the Ghana Dance Ensemble, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), civilian employees working with the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and the Irrigation Company of Upper Region (ICOUR), would have been migrated onto the SSSS.
He said to meet the demands of the oil and gas industry, the Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI), as part of its mandate, had developed a training course for which 3,000 people had been registered to begin training by the first quarter of next year.
He pointed out that the institute would also run various Masters degree programmes in general management for public service officials, adding that through that programme, the institute intended to re-position itself as one of the training institutions providing relevant skills training and knowledge for public sector workers.
On the National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI), the minister said this year alone it had provided skills training for 9,648 trainees in the field of instructor training, school-based apprenticeship, defensive driving and on-the-job-training.
He announced that Ghana had been taken off the list of countries identified by the United States Department of Labour Executive Order 13126 to be using child labour for the production of cocoa.
He said that became possible after Ghana had established the National Programme for the Elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labour in Cocoa which put in place measures as a direct response to international agitation and the possible boycott of Ghana cocoa on the world market.
On the Osu Children’s Home, Mr Mensah said following media reports of neglect and abuse in the home, a committee was set up to investigate the allegation and it had since presented its report to him. He stated that a White Paper on it would be released in the next few days.
The minister took the opportunity to touch on other departments and agencies under his ministry, including the Labour Department, the Department of Social Welfare, the Department of Co-operatives, the Department of Factories Inspectorate and the MDPI.
Others are the NVTI, Integrated Community Centres for Employable Skills (ICCESS), the Opportunities Industrialisation Centres (OIC), Ghana and the Ghana Co-operatives College.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hope for sickle cell patients (Graphic Business)

THE Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi last week cut the sod to begin work on the construction of a GH¢13.66 million clinic for the treatment of sickle cell.
Funds for the project was a grant committed by the government of Brazil to facilitate the fight against the disease which mostly people of the black race.
When completed, the three-storey edifice, will serve as a centre for the management of sickle cell patients in the West African sub-region.
Dubbed, the Kumasi Blood and Sickle Cell Centre, the project would include a blood transfusion centre, an out-patient clinic for sickle cell patients and other blood diseases as well as serve as a research centre for related conditions.
With these facilities in place, the centre is expected to provide greater impetus to enhance quality of life of sickle cell patients through the provision of quality service care.
The agreement for the project came into being when the Brazil-Ghana Technical Co-operation Agreement on Sickle Cell Disease was signed on October 7, 2009. That was at the closing ceremony of the 5th Brazilian International Symposium on Sickle Cell Disease held in Belo Horizonte.
Under the agreement, Brazil agreed to assist Ghana to expand the national new-born screening programme, by upgrading the screening laboratory, training the technical personnel, developing the educational and training programmes in the sickle cell disease and provide supplies for the initial expansion of the national screening programme.
At the sod cutting ceremony in Kumasi, a national new-born screening programme for sickle cell and other diseases was also launched by the Minister of Health, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, who cut the sod for the project to begin.
In addition Dr Kunbuor also inaugurated a 12-member New-born Screening Committee to draft new-born screening policy for the Ministry of Health. He charged the committee to start work immediately and submit drafts of the national new-born screening policy and the technical plan and budget for the implementation of the national screening programme by March 1, 2011.
The objective of the national new-born screening programme is to offer every baby born in Ghana screening test for sickle cell diseases to make it possible for early diagnosis of the disease before symptoms and complications develop.
This allows health workers to educate parents about the special needs of the children so as to begin preventive treatment before they develop the complications of the disease.
Many of these complications, especially bacteria and malaria infections can kill young children before parents and doctors even suspect that the victims have the disease.
Before the screening and early diagnosis and treatment, more than 90 per cent of babies born with sickle cell disease in Africa died before the age of five.
In Africa, the largest and most advanced of the pilot projects to screen new-borns was started in Kumasi-Tikrom, in 1993.
It began in 1993 to 2008, through grants awarded by the National Institute of Health to Professor Kwaku Ohene-Frempong (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, USA) and colleagues in Ghana, led by Professor Francis K. Nkrumah (Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research).
The screening project has continued under the support of the Ministry of Health, National Health Insurance Authority, (NHIA) Ghana Health Service (GHS), Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, under the co-ordination of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana.
The national scale-up of new-born screening for sickle cell disease would entail expansion of the new-born screening laboratory at Noguchi with additional equipment and supplies, the training of additional technical personnel, and enhancement of the Information Technology and Communications systems to run the programme.
Every year some 13,000 babies are born with sickle cell disease in Ghana. Many of them die without the diagnosis or treatment of the disease.
By the end of June 2010, the Kumasi-Tikrom pilot new-born screening programme had screened 308,632 babies, found 5,381 to have the disease and enrolled 3,549 of them in the Sickle Cell Clinic established at KATH.
In Africa, more than 400,000 babies are born with the inherited disease each year. It is usually passed on to children by parents who are AS or AC, healthy carriers of the genes.
About 25 per cent of Ghanaians carry genes that can lead to sickle cell. The disease has many features and complications that include anaemia, pain episodes which is refers to as crises, stroke, lung and joint damage, and overwhelming infections.

Business leaders hold forum on social responsibilities

THE first ever social entrepreneurship forum for business leaders and senior company executives in Ghana has taken place at the World Bank office in Accra.
The event was organised in partnership with the Ghana Employers Association, the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and industry and the Association of Ghana Industries, with support from the World Bank and the Finatrade Group.
The forum which was co-ordinated by Ashoka Fellows, a global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems, had the theme: “Beyond CSR: How Business Can Contribute to Development through Social Entrepreneurship.”
Participants discussed how Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes at the corporate level in Ghana could be more effective through the use of social entrepreneurship.
Suggestions as to how best corporate bodies could embark on significant CSR programmes that would be more beneficial to the communities in which they operated were made by the participants.
Some of the corporate executives who made contributions to the discussion were the Executive Chairman of Linsey Capital Limited, Mr Robert Ahomka Lindsey, the CRS Project Manager of Tullow Ghana Limited, Mr Ken McGhee, the Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic Bank, Mr Alhassan Andani and the CSR Regional Co-ordinator of TiGo, Mr Stanley Okoh. Mr Akumba Asomaning served as the moderator.
During the discussion, it came out that corporate institutions used about five per cent of their income for social responsibility programmes.
It was, therefore, recommended that efforts should be made to commit the organisations to do more and also embark on activities which would have long lasting impact on the people.
In the keynote presentation, a Member of the Board of Ashoka, Mr William Carter, touched on “ Hybrid Value Chain: Why Social Entrepreneur Prevail” and said just as entrepreneurs changed the face of business, social entrepreneurs acted as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others missed and improving systems.
He said social entrepreneurs invented new approaches, creating solutions to change society for the better.
Mr Carter also explained that while a business entrepreneur might create entirely new industries, a social entrepreneur came up with new solutions to social problems and then implemented them on a large scale.
According to Mr Carter, social entrepreneurs were individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems, adding that they were ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.
In his closing remarks, the World Bank Country Director in Ghana, Mr Ishac Diwan, urged companies to do more for the communities in which they operated and mentioned health, education, environment, agriculture and afforestation as some of the areas they could look at.

College of Physicians stems brain drain

THE establishment of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS) has helped to reduce the number of doctors who leave the country to either seek green pastures or pursue further studies abroad.
Data available at the college indicated that between 1999 and 2003, there was a cumulative loss of 450 medical officers to the country but the number reduced to 205 for the period 2004 to 2008, representing a reduction of 54.4 per cent.
Professor David Ofori Adjei, Acting Rector of the college, made this known at the opening of the Seventh Annual General and Scientific Meeting held by the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS) in Accra yesterday.
The establishment of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which is backed by Act 635 of 2003, resulted from efforts by a group of individuals in the medical and dental profession, particularly the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), who were of the view that Ghana should have its own national post-graduate medical college for the training of specialists in medicine, surgery and allied specialities.
Prof Ofori Adjei said from 2007 to 2010, the college produced a total of 198 specialists.
However, he said one of the major challenges facing the college was attracting residents into what he referred to as deprived specialities such as anaesthesia, laboratory medicine, psychiatry, family medicine and emergency medicine.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, challenged medical doctors to network with other professionals in the health sector to achieve results.
Information provided by the College at the ceremony pointed out that global warming posed a major and huge unfamiliar challenge.
Caused by green house gases, global warming has given rise to climate change, which has brought in its wake extreme weather conditions such as abnormal storms, droughts, floods, and fires which had affected human health in various ways.
The effects include malnutrition, heat waves, malaria, infectious diseases, and diarrhoea diseases, as well as HIV and AIDS.
Delivering the keynote address, Prof Ayeetey said researchers needed to support policy makers on how to confront issues coming out of climate change and mentioned change of livelihoods and lifestyles as some of the things which could come as one of the effects of climate change.
The Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Robert Joseph Mettle-Nunoo, commended the college for reducing the number of doctors who annually left the country for further courses by offering the opportunity locally.
In his welcoming address, the President of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, Professor George Wireko-Brobby, said the theme for the event was chosen to reflect the prevailing health problems of the global village.
Quoting from the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports, Prof Wireko-Brobby said global warming leading to global change was already claiming 150,000 human lives annually, particularly in Africa.
As part of the programme, Professor Samuel Ofosu-Amaah and Professor Paul Kwame Nyame, the immediate past President of the College and the immediate past Rector of the college respectively, were honoured for the role they played in the success of the college.

Dansoman Area Church of Pentecost fetes aged members

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

THE Dansoman Area of the Church of Pentecost (COP) on Farmers’ Day, has organised a social event for about 750 aged members of the church at the Aburi Botanical Gardens.
The event, which was the first of its kind, was to show appreciation to the aged, some of whom have spent their time, energy and resources to help the church grow and develop over the years.
In an interview, Prophet James Osei Amanianpong, the Dansoman Area Head of the church, said about GH¢60,000 which was contributions from members within the area was spent on the event.
He urged the elderly to continue to assist the church with good counselling and also spend some of their time in prayers for the prosperity of the nation.
Before they could get to the gardens where they were provided with food and drinks, the elderly, whose ages ranged from 65 years and above, were driven in a convoy of 16 Yutong buses along some streets of Accra and also historical sites such as State House, Flagstaff House (Jubilee House) and Peduase Lodge to enable them refresh their memories of events of the past.
At the gardens, they went through medical screening handled by health workers who were members of the church. A medical talk on how to manage ageing processes was also given.
Present at the gathering were pastors of the various local assemblies within the Dansoman Area and their wives and some church leaders who helped to make the event comfortable for the elderly.
As gifts, each of the male senior citizens was given a shirt or a shirt material while each of the females was given a half piece of wax print distributed by the pastors’ wives.
There was a lot of fun as the elderly interacted freely with one other, sang some of the old songs of the church and danced to exercise their old bones.
Many of them whom the Daily Graphic spoke to expressed appreciation and praised the management of the Dansoman Area of the COP for having them in mind at the time that they were old and could not play active roles in the activities of the church.
They asked for God’s blessings for those who contributed for the event and expressed the hope that the initiative would be sustained for those who could not get the opportunity to attend the gathering this year to attend subsequent ones.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Traditional medical practice goes scientific

IN fulfilment of the Traditional Medical Practice Act of 2000 (Act 575),a total of 47 medical herbal practitioners were last week inducted into a professional body at a ceremony in Accra.
That was after the practitioners have completed four years of studies at the Department of Medicine at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and two years internship at the Mampong Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine.
The first batch of the group, which were in four batches, completed the programme in 2007 with the last completing this year.
The training of the medical herbalists is expected to among other things, serve as bridge between the indigenous traditional medicine and the world recognised standards.
The theme for the induction ceremony was “the role of the medical herbalist in healthcare delivery” and it was witnessed by senior officials of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), some members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, health professionals, journalists, relatives of the herbal medical practitioners and well wishers
As part of the ceremony, the medical herbalists were made to swear the Ghana Medical Herbalist’s Oath and later presented with certificates by the Traditional Medicine Practice Council (TMPC), which is under the Ministry of Health, to enable them to practice.
Addressing the graduates, the Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Robert Joseph Mettle-Nunoo, said the scientific training offered the medical herbalists was to enable them to enhance traditional medicine practice in the country, just as was being done in some countries in Asia such as China and India.
He indicated that the GHS was considering ways to engage those cadres of healthcare providers, adding that taking up the challenge would not only “create jobs but also indicate additional positive strides made towards the intended integration of both conventional and non-orthodox medical practices”.
Mr Mettle-Nunoo pointed out that as a nation with huge herbal/medicinal plant resources, the quest for the development of traditional and alternative medicine could not be over-emphasised.
Undoubtedly, larger segment of the Ghanaian population, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, rely on herbal medicine for the treatment of ailments. The figure stands between 60 and 80 per cent.
But of that, the knowledge of and practice of traditional medicine has over the years been mainly acquired through an informal system, particularly through oral transmission from generation to generation. Thus, practitioners are to large extent illiterates and semi literates, as research has shown.
With the induction of the medical herbalists, Ghana is poised to move higher in the area of healthcare delivery and to meet international or acceptable standards.
On that basis, the introduction of the training programme BSc (Herbal Medicine) at the KNUST is welcome.
As part of his speech, Mr Mettle-Nunoo, said there was the need to scale up activities in research and development in medicinal plants, coupled with clinical trials, as a means of achieving substantial results in developing the country’s own herbal products and practice in general.
The deputy minister said the long period the practitioners spent in school was to equip them effectively to complement the health sector in healthcare delivery.
He noted that majority of Ghanaians preferred herbal medicine, for which reason the practitioners should ensure that they made their services and the various traditional medicines they had been trained to administer available to the people.
Mr Mettle-Nunoo urged them not to look down on indigenous herbal practitioners who had been in the practice for years but rather collaborate effectively with them to encourage the exchange of ideas from both sides.
The Registrar of the TMPC, Mr F. K. Hlortsi-Akakpo, observed that all traditional and alternative medicine practice groups, including herbalists, needed attention, support and professional capacity development as deemed reasonable and called for support for all the various groups.
He said any plans, programmes and activities organised by the council would, as informed by the enabling statutes — the Traditional Medicine Practice Act of 2000 (Act 575) — be developed and executed with the involvement of stakeholders, where necessary.
The Chairman for the occasion, Togbega Debra IV, called on the Ministry of Health to establish satellite herbal clinics at the district level where the medical herbalists and those who would come after them could be engaged to care for patients who preferred traditional herbal treatment.
With the induction of the medical herbalists into practice, the country has set the education and sensitisation on advancement herbal medicine practice rolling. It,therefore, behoves on the medical herbalists to continue to work hard to advance herbal medicine practice and help achieve the expected results.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Plans underway to modernise intelligence agencies

Intelligence agencies in the country are being supported up with modern equipment and know-how to enhance their operational capacity and efficiency in crime combat, the Minister of the Interior, Mr Martin Amidu, has stated.
The new measures include the provision of adequate and standardised equipment such as light armoured and riot control vehicles, headgear, bullet proof vests and side arms to be made available to the Ghana Police Service to enable its personnel to perform specific duties.
Taking his turn at the meet-the-press organised by the Ministry of Information in Accra yesterday, Mr Amidu explained that the beefing up of the intelligence network was intended to establish the identities of criminals and find out their motivation for attacking police personnel in crime situations.
Some of the institutions under the ministry are the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), the Ghana National Fire Service, the Prison Service, the Gaming Commission, the Ghana Refugee Board, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and the National Peace Council.
On effective policing, Mr Amidu stated that efforts were being made to undertake robust patrols across the country; intensify intelligence gathering on criminal activities; institute rewards system for credible informants; rezone major towns and cities; replicate tent city project in other parts of Accra and some metropolis; and also improve police population ratio through recruitment.
Touching on congestion in the country’s prisons, Mr Amidu said a modern maximum security prison with a capacity of housing 2,000 inmates was underway at Ankaful in the Central Region.
The project, according to the minister, was expected to be inaugurated by the end of 2010 and would accommodate people he termed as high-profile prisoners serving long sentences to ensure proper classification of prisoners in the prisons throughout the country.
In line with the government’s policy, Mr Amidu said the Ghana National Fire Service had intensified its efforts by training two batches of officer cadets in 2010.
He also said the GIS had developed a strategic plan for the next four years with support from the British High Commission and PA Consulting Service Limited, adding that the plan was almost complete and was expected to be launched by the end of 2010.
He said in addition to its security role, the GIS collected revenue on behalf of the government.
As of August, 2010, the GIS had collected GH¢8,584,413.00, thereby exceeding its projected target of GH¢8,528,951.00 by GH¢55,462.00.
Concerning disaster management, Mr Amidu said NADMO made significant achievement in the area of training, human resource development, and creating awareness of various types of hazards.
He also stated that the organisation had, during the year, co-ordinated the emergency responses, search and rescue and evacuation of flood victims in the Greater Accra, Central, Western, Volta and Northern regions.
The Interior Minister said within the past one year, both seizures of drugs and arrests of drug traffickers entering Ghana and those going outside of Ghana had gone down drastically and commended the Narcotic Controls Board for a good work done.
Reacting to attacks on the police by criminals in recent times, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Paul Tawiah Quaye, said the situation was an indication that the police were making it difficult for the criminals to operate, hence the attacks.
He explained that such situations did exist in other places such as the United States, saying now that the trend was becoming a problem in Ghana, the police had to come up with strategies to deal with such criminals.

GHS launches national health campaign

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) and its partners have launched a new national health campaign dubbed “GoodLife, Live it Well” to create awareness among Ghanaians on healthy living.
The campaign provides a platform for the promotion of a wide variety of specific health topics. It will also address social and cultural issues related to the prevention of diseases.
With this initiative, the GHS will indicate its concern not only about issues militating against diseases, but also about other matters such as growth and development in infancy, childhood, adolescence and safe pregnancy and reproductive health practices.
Launching the campaign at a well-attended ceremony in Accra, the Director-General of the GHS, Dr Elias K. Sory, said although there are various health facilities in the country to care for people when they were sick, the best thing for any individual to do in life was to stay healthy.
"When you are successful at preventing diseases, you and your loved ones stay healthier. This will free up your time, money and energy so that you can focus on more on productive and fulfilling things", he said.
Dr Sory said there were illnesses and diseases which could afflict a person and mentioned malaria, HIV AIDS, malnutrition, measles, mumps, diarrhoea, worms, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, cancer, injury, trauma from accidents, among others.
He underscored the need for the country, with support from her development partners, to adopt different approaches to find out the latest and best ways to deal with specific diseases.
“But for the prevention approaches to be most effective, this must be a partnership between you and the Ghana Health Service. You need to be a central participant in the prevention of disease for you and your family. We are there to help you but when it comes to prevention, you are the star player and the key beneficiary”, he said.
To stay healthy, Dr Sory advocated sleeping under Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) to prevent malaria, reduction of sexual partners or the use of condoms to prevent HIV, consumption of balanced diet, hand washing with soap before eating to avoid diarrhoea and daily exercise, getting adequate sleep to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular.
He pointed out the need for integration of various initiatives, adding "If the new health topics are all linked to a unifying theme, people will see that each new message is a building block towards a common objective”.
Dr Sory also urged pregnant women to attend antenatal clinics regularly, fully immunise their children to prevent deadly diseases and observe continuous breastfeeding of their babies.
For her part, the Director, Family Health Division of the GHS, Dr Gloria Quansah-Asare, said the GoodLife initiative was about the prevention of diseases and health promotion,thereby providing individuals with the necessary foundation to enable “you and your loved ones to achieve your Good Life”.
Without health, she said, it would become very difficult, if not impossible to enjoy good life, adding that the health sector was being prescriptive about good life and encouraging people to come out with what their good life should be and work towards it.
“What is your good life, think about what makes your life good, what you value in life, think about how you would achieve if you didn’t have your health, and finally, begin to take steps to maintain your health and prevent disease”, she stressed.
The Deputy Country Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Mr Peter Argo, suggested that local languages should be used to get the messages being championed under the new initiative across to majority of Ghanaians.
Presenting campaign materials to promote the Good Life initiative, the Chief Party of Behaviour Change Support (BCS) Project, Mr Ian Anderson, said different approaches would be used to get to the people.
He mentioned the use of multi-media activities which included teasers on television, songs, billboards and promotional adverts.
He said a total of 900 volunteers would be engaged to reach out to the people in the communities for them to also benefit from the GoodLife initiative.

Internal Audit ensures judicious resource use

THE Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission (FC), Mr Afari Dartey, has deplored the perception of the role of internal auditors, saying it is a worrying trend.
He said the general perception that internal auditors are police personnel seeking to prosecute wrongdoers was wrong.
Rather, the work of the internal auditor was to review, appraise and report for managerial action, the soundness, adequacy and the effective application of internal controls.
Speaking at an Internal Audit Unit’s Capacity Development Workshop on Risk Management, Corporate Governance and Internal Controls organised for personnel of the Forestry Commission in Accra, Mr Dartey said risk management, corporate governance and effective controls were becoming increasingly important, especially after the experiences of some public institutions at the sittings of the Public Accounts Committee as shown by the national TV channels.
“We have learnt through the Internal Audit, revelations that nothing short of strong and effective leadership, good corporate governance and cooperation amongst staff throughout the divisions and units can mitigate such disasters in any meaningful manner”.
He explained that auditors were not to find fault but to look at the extent at which the organisation’s assets and interest were accounted for and safeguard them from lapses of all kinds arising from waste, extravagance, inefficient administration, and poor judgement.
The chief executive indicated that in addition to the above, internal auditors ensured the suitability, reliability and timeliness of financial and other management information developed within the organisation and also the extent to which employees’ actions were in compliance with policies, standards, procedures and applicable laws and regulations.
For his part, the Director-General of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA), Mr Ransford Adjei, advised all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to have internal audit units in their outfits to prevent anomalies which created problems later.
Presenting a paper on “Risk Management, Corporate Governance and Effective Controls: The Role of Directors, Managers and Auditors”, the Honorary Secretary of the Institute of Internal Auditors, Mr Richard Ntim, said the workshop was to enable participants to appreciate their respective roles in risk management and control to ensure effective corporate governance.
He noted that the strategic objective of the FC was to secure a legal framework that liberated the organisation, develop a diversified portfolio of profitability revenue sources and also attract, develop and retain a well-motivated, skilled and efficient workforce.
He also indicated that there were plans for the commission to collaborate effectively with major stakeholders in an environment of mutual trust and respect and also develop least cost, which would lead to the development of organisational infrastructure that inspired value.