Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lotto operators protest (Front Page)

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011

PRIVATE lotto operators in the country have taken their grudge against the National Lottery Authority (NLA) to the Presidency and accused the NLA of trying to render them jobless.
Twenty-six national and regional executives of the National Lotto Receivers Union (NLRU) who signed an 11-point resolution on behalf of their 8,000 members gave a litany of allegations against the NLA and called for the removal of the director general of the authority and his two deputies.
The 11-point resolution accused the NLA leadership of a deliberate attempt to make members of the union irrelevant and jobless by creating a distribution line which was parallel to what the private operators were doing.
It said the management of the NLA had indicated that intention by “their indecent rush to recruit 10,000 more people and equip them with new portable mobile terminals to be used to conduct door-to-door sales of lotto tickets”.
Led by its National Chairman, Mr Dan Mensah, the NLRU called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, replace the director general of the NLA and his two deputies, “else we shall take steps to advise ourselves”.
The resolution, which was the outcome of a meeting held on January 12, 2011, was addressed to President J.E.A. Mills and copied to the Speaker of Parliament, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance, the Board Chairman of the NLA, the Director General of the NLA, the Chairman of the National Labour Commission (NLC) and some media houses.
The union expressed disagreement with measures being taken by the authority to “dilute” the income of lotto receivers by a proposal to reduce lotto commission from 25 to 20 or 15 per cent.
It argued that comparing what pertained here to commission payable to lottery ticket sellers in Europe and elsewhere was wrong and misleading, since in those areas lottery tickets were sold in shops, at filling stations, in supermarkets and similar places where the operators had their core business and, therefore, lottery sales were on the peripheral point of their business.
“In Ghana, lotto receivers sell lotto as their main occupation,” it stressed.
It also called for investigations into the importation of the 10,000 small portable mobile machines at a cost of €8 million.
“It beats our imagination why samples of the small mobile machines were not imported for testing before making the bulk purchase,” the union pointed out.
It also challenged the management of the NLA to reduce its expenditure, instead of reducing lotto sales commission, and added that the government should take steps to dissolve the board of the NLA for it to be reconstituted to include former directors of the NLA who had better understanding of the lotto business.
As part of its demands, the members of the union wants to be recognised as individual retailers/operators and not to be forced to operate as marketing companies.
They also indicated that all imported machines should first and foremost be allocated to existing lotto receivers before consideration was given to new entrants.
The union said it represented 8,000 lotto receivers all over Ghana who constituted the core and bulk sales force of the NLA, adding that it had been pre-financing NLA operations by more than GH¢35,000 per week.
“We have over the years assisted the NLA to mobilise substantial amounts of revenue to support economic endeavours of successive governments .... We are expressing serious concern over the contemptuous style and attitude towards lotto receivers ever since the National Lotto Act of 2006 was passed,” it stated.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ministry of Health budget for 2011 (Graphic Busines)

THE Ministry of Health (MOH) has been allocated an amount of GH¢987,475,507.00 to implement its activities and projects for the 2011 fiscal year.
Out of the amount, GH¢406,642,442.00 will come from government sources while GH¢356,407,532.00 is supposed to be raised as internally generated funds (IGFs). Donor support amounts to GH¢219,487,125.00 with additional GH¢4,938,410.00 for health-related social intervention programmes.
The figures were contained in the 2011 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana which was presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Kwabena Duffuor on November 18, 2010.
Just like the previous year, the government will focus on its core objectives of delivering accessible, affordable and quality health services to all by undertaking interventions to improve health service delivery and reduce the inequality gap.

Mother and child care
In line with the achievements of the health related Millennuim Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, the government promised to continue to concentrate on improving health outcomes by targeting resources towards the health of women and children, prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases.
The sector also has plans to implement the National Child Health Policy and strategy which seeks to increase access to maternal, new born and child health services (MNCH). In addition, the ministry will also within the year, implement the adolescent health policy and adopt measures to ensure safe blood product transfusion.

Bridging Gaps in Access to Health Services
In line with the health sector Medium Term Development Plan for 2011, the budget indicated that the MOH will accelerate the implementation of Community-Based Health Planning Services (CHPS) strategy in under-served areas through the involvement of district assemblies. A total of 30 uncompleted and on-going CHPS compounds will be completed, while an additional 30 will be constructed and equipped to be functional. Government will also seek the required funds for the completion of about 391 health infrastructure uncompleted projects dotted around the country.
In addition, health training institutions will be expanded and renovated while basic utilities such as water and electricity be provided in institutions where these facilities are lacking. In addition, beds will be provided “to remove patients on the floor”.

Institutional Care
The government has plans to develop a subsidiary legislation and adopt a community mental health care strategy to facilitate the implementation of the Mental Health Act when passed.
To strengthen the control and prevention of disease in 2011, the MoH will strengthen surveillance, reporting and emergency response systems. Also, case detection and management at health facility level will be improved and vector control strategy scaled up. The ministry will in addition restructure all monitoring and evaluation units under optimal performance.
The health sector will within the year intensify healthy life style promotion by implementing Behaviour Enhancing Communication. To this end, Public Health Education will be intensified with the state-of-the-art communication.

National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)
The scheme will continue to provide financial risk protection against the cost of basic quality health care for all citizens in Ghana. In addition, the implementation of the integrated ICT Platform project will be scaled up while work will continue with Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare to identify the very poor for subsidised NHIS membership. Efforts will also be made to intensify clinical audit of claims in operations to improve cost-containment.

Human Resources Strategy
The government will this year focus on scaling up the production of middle level cadres such as Community Psychiatric Nurses, Midwives, Medical Assistants, Laboratory Technologist and core auxiliary staff and also develop a human resource redeployment plan based on revised staffing norms.

Health Infrastructure
Construction works on district hospitals at Tarkwa and Bekwai, four regional hospitals and staff housing in Wa, Kumasi, Sekondi Takoradi and Tema for doctors, nurses, midwives and other paramedics will be carried out. Other projects to be undertaken include the refurbishment of the Tamale Teaching Hospital and the expansion of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine Centres at Korle-Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals as well as the construction of six district hospitals in Adenta/ Madina, Twifo Praso, Konongo-Odumase, Nsawkaw, Tepa and Salaga.
Blood transfusion centres will be established at the teaching hospitals in Kumasi and Accra. In addition, construction works will be carried out on 12 district hospitals with two at Kumawu and Effiduase in the Sekyere East district and 10 in the Krobo areas in the Eastern Region and other newly created districts which have no district hospitals.
Within the year, the construction of five polyclinics at Lambusie, Babile/Brifo, Ko, Wechau and Han in the Upper West Region will be initiated. Additionally the Phase three of the Bolga Regional Hospital project will be continued.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Labour Commission receieved 775 complaints

Thursday, January 13, 2011

THE National Labour Commission (NLC) did, from January to November 2010, receive 775 complaints/petitions.
Out of the figure, 414 were settled, with 361 of them currently at various levels of settlement at the NLC.
Cases that go before the commission involve disputes related to summary dismissals, termination of appointments, retirement benefits/end-of-service benefits, unpaid salaries, workmen compensation, redundancy and severance pay, non-payment of social security contributions and non-compliance with signed agreements.
A report from the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare indicated that in addition, 23 cases were settled as the High Court, while four cases were settled as the Court of Appeal.
The report also pointed that the total payment by respondents to petitioners through the commission was GH¢320,727.51.
According to the report, a number of strikes were, however, witnessed during the period, including workers of Maersk Limited, the local union of the Songhor Salt Project and the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT).
Others were the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG), the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the Junior Nurses of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.
The report, however, indicated that through negotiations, those industrial actions were resolved.
The NLC was established under Section 135 of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651).
It is to develop and sustain a peaceful and harmonious industrial relations environment through the use of effective dispute resolution practices within the context of the law, promote co-operation among labour market players and mutual respect for their rights and responsibilities.
On employment, the report said the Labour Department was able to secure job placement for 3,078 jobs seekers who registered under its National Employment Service.
The department, according to the report, registered eight trade unions and received 13 collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) concluded between employers and trade unions.
Within the period between January and December 2010, 49 CBAs were issued to trade unions, 140 labour inspections were completed and also 314 workmen’s compensations cases involving public sector workers were received and an amount of GH¢1,207,217.07 paid to beneficiaries.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New executives for Girl Guides

GHANA Girl Guides Association last Saturday organised an impressive ceremony in Achimota where newly elected officers were commissioned and funds raised for its activities. The theme for the event was “Girls World-wide say, Gender Equality and Women Empowerment”.
The new officers, who were commissioned to steer the affairs of the 90-old-year association for the next three years, were the Chief Commissioner, Mrs Juliana Adade Ofori, the First Deputy Chief Commissioner, Mrs Jane Bour Donkor, the Second Deputy Chief Commissioner, Ms Regina Abba Selby, the International Commissioner, Ms Alice Boateng and the National Treasurer, Ms Cecilia Parker. They were elected during the association’s annual general meeting in November, 2010, but were commissioned on January 8, 2011.
Present at the ceremony were both past and present girl guides from all over the country, invited guests, as well as relations and friends of the guides who contributed to make the event a very interesting one.
Also present were the Omanhene of the Asokore Traditional Area, Nana (Dr) S.K.B Asante, a former President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Mrs Elizabeth Villars who was the guest speaker, the President of the Association, Princess Eva Monica Boateng, the Executive Secretary, Mrs Zakyia Wahab, a representative from Nigeria, Madam Muina Bisi Alayiwe and the immediate past Chief Commissioner, Mrs Patience Aniagyei.
The Ghana Girl Guides Association is a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts which is made up of 10 million girls and young women in 145 countries in five regions across the world. The African region where the Ghana Girl Guides Association belongs, comprises 500,000 girls in 31 countries.
The mission for the association the world over, is to enable girls and young women develop their potential as responsible citizens. In addition, the association offer girls and young women opportunities for leadership and personal achievement and non-formal education that they may not otherwise receive.
The members work on projects around literacy, peace-building, nutrition, HIV and AIDS prevention, as well as prevention of violence against women and children and as advocates for women’s rights. Many of these projects are in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In Ghana, the Girl Guides Association works with other Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the various UN agencies to promote awareness about international youth programmes, where they are given the opportunity to attend international seminars, conferences and camps.
Guiding can be found in nine regions of Ghana with the exception of the Brong Ahafo Region which the association hopes to establish a branch this year. So far, there are 13,000 members country wide.
After her swearing in, Mrs Adade Ofori praised her predecessors who she indicated, had contributed immensely to the growth of the association over the years and promised to build on their achievements.
She said the association had come a long way over the past 90 years and helped to develop the potential of girls and young women in the society, making them responsible citizens in the society and the world at large.
Touching on the theme, she said “achieving our theme will not be easy, but a Guide has courage and is cheerful in all difficulties. If we persevere and act in unity, we will reach our goal”.
The chief commissioner also urged the girl guides to be at the forefront of social issues concerning women and also support other women to attain high positions in the society.
In her address, Mrs Elizabeth Villars encouraged females to effectively play their role in nation building.
She touched on the theme and said almost all the MDGs affected women in one way or other adding that if women issues were handled properly, nations would achieve many of the targets by 2015.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ministry of Health to eradicate common diseases

Sat. Jan 8, 2011.
THE Ministry of Health (MoH) will this year intensify its role of prevention, control and eradication of common illnesses and diseases including malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS.
This was contained in Ministry of Health (MoH) report presented at a Health Summit held in November 2010. The report dealt with programmes and activities of the various agencies and departments under the MoH.
Part of the report which dealt with TB and HIV/AIDS in Ghana indicated that, 991 TB patients tested positive to HIV out of a total of 4,191 patients who were tested for the disease between January to June 2010.
The figure accounted for 23.6 per cent of the patients who were tested within the period.
Meanwhile, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), has described TB as the leading infectious killer of people living with HIV which accounts for an estimated 13 per cent of AIDS deaths world-wide.
It said HIV and TB were so closely connected that they were often referred to as co-epidemics or dual epidemics. The epidemics drive and reinforce one another: HIV activates dormant TB in a person, who then becomes infectious and able to spread the TB bacillus to others.
For that reason, the UNAIDS has advised member countries which include Ghana to appropriately respond to both epidemics and avoid more widespread drug resistance, care and prevention of both diseases should be priority concerns of all TB and HIV programmes.
The MOH report indicated that, currently, Ghana had a record of an estimated 267,069 Persons Living With HIV (PLHIVS).
The figure represents 112,457 males, 154,612 females
and 25,666 children.
The report also said there were new HIV infections which involved 22,177 adults and 3,354 children.
According to the report, there were 20,313 annual AIDS deaths out of which 2,566 were children.
It pointed out that, cumulatively, 2,051,748 people had tested to know their HIV sero-status as at June 2010 and 6,390 sero positive people were put on anti-retroviral therapy (ART). That makes the cumulative total of ART clients since the therapy started in Ghana to 40,135.
On Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMCT) of HIV, the report indicated that out of 259,559 pregnant women who were tested as at June 2010, 5,201 tested positive to the virus which represented two per cent.
It added that 2,679 which was 52 per cent of pregnant women due to receive ARV to prevent mother-to-child transmission received their doses.
On TB control it said treatment success rate in 2009 stood at 85.5 per cent.
Meanwhile the UNAIDS, has indicted that more collaborative action was needed to widely implement programmes to combat HIV-related TB.
That, according to the organisation, could be done through HIV testing and counselling for all TB patients, screening of all people living with HIV for TB disease and provision of TB treatment or preventive therapy to all co-infected people.
It also advocates provision of cotrimoxazole and anti-retroviral treatment to all TB patients with HIV as well as, ensuring TB infection control in all health care facilities and high HIV prevalence settings.
Ghana’s median HIV prevalence in 2009 was 2.9 per cent whiles the country had an estimated adult national HIV prevalence of 1.9 per cent during the year.

GRCL opens 4 more stops for shuttle train

Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011
FOUR more stops with platforms have been created by the Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL) for the benefit of increasing commuters along the Accra-Tema rail line.
The new stops, which are at Nungua, Adegonor (Nungua Junction), Shangri La and Dzorwulu, bring to eight the number of stops for the shuttle trains on that route.
The old stops are at the Odawna (Kwame Nkrumah Circle), Achimota, Batsonaa and Asoprochona railway stations.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, the Public Relations Officer of the GRCL, Mr J. Abaka-Amuah, explained that until the new stops were made, the trains were not stopping at those points because there were no platforms or steps for passengers to safely board the trains or disembark from them.
He added that it became necessary to build the platforms because the designs of the steps on the Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) coaches currently being used by the GRCL were such that it was impossible for passengers to board or get down from them at places where there were no platforms.
Mr Abaka-Amuah said the new coaches had helped to stop passengers who failed to buy tickets and rather chose to hang dangerously on trains, since the stairs to the new trains folded up and the gates closed immediately the engines were put in motion.
A visit to the Adegonor Rail Stop at Nungua Junction by a Daily Graphic team revealed that new staircases had been constructed to ensure that passengers safely boarded and disembarked from the trains.
Mr Abaka-Amuah said sheds would soon be constructed at all the new stops to protect passengers from the weather, just as prevailed in existing railway stations.
He said there was now the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) which had the responsibility to provide infrastructure and oversee the assets of the railway sector.
For his part, the Accra Area Traffic Manager of the GRCL, Mr Arthur Mends, said the rail stops had helped to increase the number of passengers who boarded the trains and stated that on Friday morning, 277 passengers boarded the train at the Adegonor train stop alone.
He said that had been the situation ever since the new stops were put into use from December 29, 2010.
Meanwhile, a statement signed by Mr Abaka-Amuah stated that the time schedule for the trains remained the same.
“In the morning, the first train leaves Tema at 5.45 a.m. and arrives in Accra at 6.45 a.m. The second train leaves Accra at 6.50 a.m. and arrives in Tema at 7.50 a.m., and the third train leaves Tema at 7 a.m. and arrives in Accra at 8 a.m.,” it said.
It said the “first train in the evening leaves Accra at 5.40 p.m. and arrives in Tema at 6.40 p.m.”, adding that the second evening train left Tema at 6 p.m. and arrived in Accra at 7 p.m., with the last evening train leaving Accra at 7.10 p.m. and arriving in Tema at 8.10 p.m.
The GRCL advised passengers to always buy tickets before boarding the trains, since failure to do so was an offence.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

GMA President bemoans frequent changes of Health ministers

THE President of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Emmanuel Adom Winful, has bemoaned the frequent changes of ministers at the Health Ministry and said it does not promote long-term planning.
He said the association he headed was non-political and, therefore, did not warrant him to comment on the Cabinet reshuffle. He, however, noted that frequent changes generally did not help in achieving set targets.
On the ongoing negotiations between the ministry and the GMA, he stated that although there were documents to enable whoever was appointed the Minister of Health to continue with, it never helped when there was a new face.
Dr Winful’s response comes in the wake of the nomination of a third person as the Minister of Health within two years of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
The first Health Minister under the administration was Dr George Adja-Sipa Yankey, who resigned over a bribery allegation. His deputy, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, took over and worked for some months, only to be replaced by Mr Joseph Yiele Chireh in a reshuffle which was announced on Tuesday.
The GMA President said although some might argue that changes were sometimes good for strengthening institutions, he was of the view that appointees should be allowed to work a bit longer to enable them to implement some of the programmes they initiated, if not all.
He indicated that although there were technocrats at the ministry to continue with the work started by one minister and also help the new one to continue from where his predecessor left off, there was the possibility of a new appointee lacking the political will needed for the successful completion of a programme.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Korle Bu going through face lift (Graphic Business)

THE Korle Bu Teaching (KBTH) Hospital the nation’s premier hospital is going through various face lift to improve the quality of its service delivery.
The hospital through the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has acquired 13 lifts at the cost of GH¢2.4 million.
The amount is from a special fund set aside by the NHIA to use for the enhancement of services at accredited health facilities. The authority had previously assisted in the installation of a helicopter landing pad at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi.
Installation of the new lifts at the KBTH which has already begun, is to facilitate movement of paramedical and medcial staff as well as patients.
For about five years, lifts at the nation’s premier hospital had become obsolete and dysfunctional and as a result, patients had to be carried on stair cases to wards, particularly before they could be cared for.
But the hospital administrators explained that acquisition of the new lifts had delayed because of procurement procedure as well as the need to dismantle the old ones before the new lifts could be installed.
During a recent media tour of the hospital, four double system elevators weighing 1,600 kilograms were being installed at the Maternity, Surgical, Medical and Child Health Blocks. The Chief Executive of the hospital, Professor Nii Out Nartey took the media personnel round. He assured them that the installation of the first lifts at the Maternity Block would be completed by the end of January, 2011.
Each of the lifts has the capacity to lift 21 people. They are being installed by CFAO Ghana Limited, a trading firm and all expected to be ready for use by the end of March, 2011.
Another five single lift, weighting 1,000 kilograms with the capacity to take 13 people were being installed at the Chest, Eye, Ward A and G, and the Radiology Departments of the hospital.
At a media briefing which took place before the tour, Prof Nartey said work was progressing steadily and all the lifts would be installed and handed over to the hospital on schedule, barring any unforeseen contingencies. He also assured the public that the installations would not, in any way disrupt service provision to patients and clients adding that installation work was being handled in a calculated manner in order not to disrupt service provision to patients and clients.
The CEO took the opportunity to thank patients, staff and visitors to the hospital for their loyalty and co-operation in spite of the inconveniences associated with the replacement of the elevators.
After the completion of the installation work, the hospital board and management have the responsibility to institute maintenance programme to guarantee their longitivity.
On water supply, the management of the hospital had acquired a water tanker to ensure that water supply to the clinical areas was not disrupted.
Soon the hospital would embark on the expansion of its water reservoir to ensure that the clinics at the hospital function effectively.
In addition, the hospital has established information and complaints desks at the various out patients departments (OPD) to afford clients and patients the opportunity to address their grievances instead of going to the media.
The core duty of the committee would be to address grievances of patients and clients bordering on our services
In addition, the hospital is to form a Clinical Ethics and Professional Committee to address concerns and grievances of patients and clients.
The committee would comprise experienced medical and para-medical professionals, religious leaders and individuals from other interest groups. When put in place, such a committee would help the hospital to step up its drive to improve quality health care.

Gt Accra records 33 fatalities in disasters

Monday January 3, 2011

THIRTY-THREE fatalities, 715 injuries and 16,211 displaced persons was the picture of the disaster situation in the Greater Accra Region for 2010, according to a report issued by the Greater Accra Regional Directorate of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).
The report said unlike the year 2009 where disasters occurred mainly in the Accra Metropolitan Area with seven deaths and 7,969 displaced persons, in 2010, there were incidents in some of the municipalities and districts within the region.
It said there were series of hydro-meteorological disasters (floods, rainstorms, wind), fires and conflicts, which caused a number of fatalities, injuries and displaced a number of people from their homes.
The performance review report signed by the NADMO Regional Co-ordinator, Mr Winfred Tesia, and made available to the Daily Graphic covered January to December 24, 2010.
The fire outbreak at the Makola Number Two Market in Accra which destroyed 920 facilities belonging to 648 persons, caught the attention of the presidency and a committee of enquiry was set up to investigate it. The committee had since submitted its report to the Greater Accra Regional Minister.
The report said, in spite of the numerous disasters which occurred during the year, the regional NADMO directorate proved equal to the task and successfully managed the situation towards saving lives, preventing injuries and protecting properties and the environment.
It said that was achieved as a result of capacity building that ensured effective collaboration with other stakeholders including the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the region.
It said a two-week course in disaster management with resource persons from Florida State University and North Dakota University was organised for 10 senior management staff to equip themselves technically with modern international standards on the job.
In addition, separate workshops on different dates were also held at the various MMDAs for respective disaster management committee members with guidance of resource persons from NADMO headquarters as well as a day’s workshop for NADMO district co-ordinators and operation officers to equip them for efficient management of disasters.
“In pursuit of the regional agenda to equip all staff with the know-how, series of workshop for all staff has started at the Adenta Municipality and will continue in the other MMDAs in 2011”, it stated.
During the year under review, 64 district volunteer groups (DVGs) were formed in the region to serve as first line response in any emergency situation.
It pointed out that the national secretariat provided four motor bikes which were distributed among the regional directorate, the Ga South Municipality and the Dangme West and East districts respectively.
It pointed out that its greatest challenge in the year had been lack of logistics, operation rooms and rapid response units in the region, lack of co-operation from building inspectors at the various MMDAs and inadequate funding from the district assemblies.
To sustain the achievements so far made this year, the organisation said it would intensify fire prevention activities in collaboration with the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) with markets, public places and industrial concerns as the main target.