Friday, March 11, 2011

Korle-Bu records more kidney cases

Chronic kidney disease in Ghana is said to be on the increase, with the Renal Unit of the Medical Department of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) recording 3,281 cases in 2010.
The figure, according to the Head of the unit, Dr Charlotte Osafo, was a 38 per cent increase over the cases recorded in 2009.
Risk factors of kidney disease are the presence of high blood pressure, diabetes, overweight, as well as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, adults aged 50 and above, people with family history of kidney disease, abuse of over-the-counter pain killers, indiscriminate use of all kinds of herbal medicines, among others.
Addressing journalists at the launch of this year’s World Kidney Day organised by the Ghana National Kidney Foundation, Dr Osafo said recent data from the KBTH showed that 15 per cent of all medical admissions were kidney diseases.
“In addition, 10 per cent of all deaths at the medical wards of the hospital are due to chronic kidney disease,” she stated.
Dr Osafo explained that most patients with chronic kidney disease were aged between 20 and 50, adding it was unfortunate that the disease affected and killed young economically active Ghanaians.
She said the early detection of kidney impairment was essential and allowed suitable treatment before kidney damage or deterioration or before such a condition manifested itself through other complications.
She said since the management of kidney impairment, especially the chronic type which involved dialysis and surgery (transplant), was very expensive, it was important for people to know their status early enough to enable them to go for early treatment to prevent further damage to the organ.
Kidney function test, according to her, could be done at many medical facilities and laboratories at a minimum cost.
She, therefore, called on the public to check if they were at risk for kidney disease through a simple test which involved blood pressure, weight and height measurement, as well as urine and blood tests.
As part of the programme, media personnel who attended the programme were offered medical screening for kidney disease and also counselled on healthy living.
A 14-year-old kidney disease patient, Priscilla Asare from Agona Swedru, shared with media personnel some of the problems she had been experiencing as a patient, including constant bodily pain, lack of sleep and, most importantly, her inability to go to school.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Glaucoma-30,000 LIKELY TO GO BLIND (Front Page)

AN estimated 600,000 Ghanaians are said to be suffering from glaucoma, a debilitating eye disease which causes blindness.
Out of the number, 30,000 are likely to become blind if the disease is left untreated.
The Minister of Health, Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, made this known at the launch of this year’s World Glaucoma Awareness Week organised by the Glaucoma Association of Ghana (GAG), in collaboration with other stakeholders.
The World Glaucoma Day falls on March 12, each year and the theme for this year’s event is, “Glaucoma — Don’t lose sight of your family”.
Glaucoma is a condition in which the fluid pressure inside the eye becomes too high, causing damage to the optic nerve. If left untreated, vision around the edge of the eye becomes increasingly restricted, narrowing the field of vision. Eventually, total blindness can occur.
If detected early enough, the damaging affects of the disease can often be treated with various drugs. Laser or conventional surgery can often relieve pressure and prevent further sight loss.
Launching the week, Mr Chireh said the Ministry of Health had decided to provide GH¢10,000 every year to strengthen glaucoma awareness creation, adding that the fund would be increased when the ministry’s resources increased in the future.
He said 2011 had been set aside by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a year to focus on non-communicable diseases, with special emphasis on glaucoma.
In that direction, he said, the National Eye Care Programme of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) had come up with a policy direction and strategy for managing glaucoma in the country.
That would include awareness creation for people to know about the disease and report early, putting in place screening facilities to detect cases early and managing cases early and properly.
Mr Chireh said to support the glaucoma control programme and the management of other eye diseases in the country, the Ministry of Health had increased intake into the Ophthalmic Nursing Training School to produce more eye nurses.
“Additionally, more doctors were enrolled with the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2010 to be trained as ophthalmologists. The ministry has also placed an order for basic ophthalmic equipment to support the staff in their work to make screening for conditions such as glaucoma and other eye diseases possible in our district hospitals,” he stated.
The President of the Glaucoma Association of Ghana (GAG), Mr Harrison Kofi Abutiate, indicated that too many people were going blind unnecessarily, pointing out that it behoved the association to do everything possible to prevent blindness and restore sight.
He said a global programme, dubbed “Vision 2020, the Right to Sight”, which was launched in 1999 was half way through, adding that the world had 10 years left to achieve the goal of eliminating avoidable blindness.
Mr Abutiate called on the government to waive duties on equipment and other products for eye care to enable more professionals to provide better eye care services for the public.
As part of the event, there will be a free eye screening at the El-Wak Stadium at 2.00 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, 2011.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cholera cases on the rise

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Cholera cases which stood at 1,396 as of February 18, 2011 had risen to 2,376 by March 2, 2011, with more cases being reported at health facilities in the three affected regions, namely, the Greater Accra, Eastern and Central regions.
The number of deaths resulting from the epidemic remained at 34, with the Greater Accra Region topping the list with 16 deaths and 1,670 cases.
The situation prompted the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to convene an emergency meeting of the National Disease and Epidemics Management Technical Committee in Accra on March 2, 2011 to deliberate on the issue.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic after the meeting, the Public Relations Officer of NADMO, Major Nicholas Mensah, indicated that looking at the number of cases involved, there was the need for extra reception centres to be established to enable health personnel to accommodate the patients for treatment, since health facilities within the affected areas were congested.
Present at the meeting were the Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Robert Joseph Mettle-Nunoo; a Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Dr Hannah Bisiw; the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Elias Sory; the Director of Public Health of the GHS, Dr Joseph Amankwah; the National Co-ordinator of NADMO, Mr Kofi Portuphy, as well as other top officials from those institutions.
There were also representatives from the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Information, the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA).
Giving an update on the cholera situation in the country, Dr Amankwah said the GHS and other stakeholders had worked hard to contain the situation but there was still a lot to do to contain the problem.
He identified indiscriminate dumping of refuse, defecation along the banks of rivers and streams, lack of potable water, poor handling of food, selling of food near open gutters and poor personal hygiene as some of the causes of the spread of the epidemic.
He suggested that water should be made available to enable people to keep their hands, other parts of their bodies and their environment clean of the virus that caused cholera.
For his part, the Country Representative of the WHO, Dr Daniel Kertesz, commended the GHS for its effective management of the epidemic.
Dr Sory assured the nation that the GHS was doing everything possible to contain the situation.
He called for the allocation of adequate funds for the Health Promotion Unit of the GHS to facilitate its public education and sensitisation programme on preventive measures.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The need to support the aged


THE Minister of Health, Mr Joseph Yiele Chireh, has emphasised the need for Ghana to have a policy that will promote active ageing and also make use of existing structures to cater for the aged.
He said in a situation where our joint family system and family values were gradually eroding and taking away the traditional safety nets for the elderly, we need to find appropriate measures that will provide the elderly with some support and care.
In an address read on his behalf by the Director of Human Resource at the Ministry of Health, Dr Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira, the Health Minister said he intended to put together a team of experts to advise him on developing a framework for such policy guidelines.
The address was read at the First International Seminar on Ageing in Ghana, organised in Accra by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Akrowa Aged Life Foundation (AA-LF). The event which was on the theme “Changing the Face of Ageing in Ghana: New Horizon, New Hope” was in conjunction with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Health Concern Ghana.
According to the 2010 Population and Housing Census, persons aged 65 years and above and considered aged, constitute 5 per cent of Ghana’s population of more than 24 million.
As part of his address, the Health Minister indicated that “from a health perspective, we need to organise our health services with emphasis on addressing active ageing and the life course. In short, we need a policy on geriatric care in Ghana; a policy that will bring on board all other services that will promote active ageing and make use of existing structures to cater for people in old age in this country,” he stressed.
Apart from the issue of income security, Mr Chire said perhaps health security represented one of the basic pre-requisites of an enjoyable life for elderly people, adding that “health in old age depends on people’s lifestyle and behaviour during their life-span.”
For her part, the Executive Director of Health Concern Ghana, Mrs Mary Aboagye, said Ghana was committed to the Copenhagen Declaration which sought to promote social development that would be beneficial to all members of society, including the aged.
Giving some facts about the aged, she said globally there was an increase in the proportion of the population aged 60 years and above and stated that in Ghana the proportion of aged people increased from 4.0 per cent in 1984 to 5.3 per cent in 2010, according to the 2010 census figures.
Mrs Aboagye said Ghana’s life expectancy had increased from 45.5 years in 1986 to 58.1 years in 2000, adding that it had increased the demand for health services, thereby increasing the cost of healthcare and medication.
Speaking on “Care for the Aged: The need for capacity building”, she called for holistic care for the aged and categorised such care into economic factors, social factors, physical factors and spiritual factors.
Speaking on Capacity Building for Eldercare, the Principal of a training institute in Denmark (SOSU Silkeborg), Ms Bente Strager, said there was the need for professional care givers for aged and pointed out that although nurses provided treatment to the aged, they were trained as care givers.
Citing examples from Denmark, she said many of the aged were cared for in their homes and advised care givers to show respect and understanding as well as engage in dialogue with the aged if they wanted to provide proper care.
Other speakers who addressed the participants were the Chairman of AA-LF, Ambassador Charles Agyei Amoama, Mr Richard Larry Tetteh also of AA-LF, Mrs Joana Ansong of Health Care Ghana and Mr Neil Vestergaard of SOSU AASRHAUS, Denmark.

Superior Medical Centre to mark 20 years -Of dedicated quality health care


FOR the past 20 years, the Superior Medical Centre (SMC), a private non-profit, non-missionary facility has served the people of Ghana with dedication and passion. To celebrate its 20 years of existence, the staff of the centre led by Dr Edward Nasigrie Mahama, has laid down elaborate plans.
In an interview with Dr Mahama in his consulting room at Dome, he said the week-long programme was scheduled to take place in March 2011.
In the course of the interview, Dr Mahama, who is a leading politician and had been the flag bearer of the People’s National Convention (PNC), indicated that “today I am not talking politics but health”.
He said events lined up for the occasion included clean up campaigns, healthy life awareness creation, encounter with media practitioners, radio and television interviews, free screening and consulting doctors, anniversary lectures, dinner and awards night and a non-denominational thanksgiving service, among other activities.
The Superior Medical Centre (SMC) which was established in March 1990, is located in Paradise Estates, Oko-Dome, a suburb of Accra. It is owned and operated by the Superior Medical Foundation, a private non-profit organisation established in March 1990 as the counterpart of the Ghana Medical Foundation based in Chicago, in the United States of America (USA).
With Dr Mahama as the leader, the SMC has a group of duly qualified and registered physicians and nurses who care for clients and patients with zeal and passion.
That is the reason why in 2010, the centre was given an award for rendering exceptional service to subscribers of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
A citation titled “Excellence in Service Provision” and signed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Mr Sylvester Mensah, indicated that “For exemplary customer service provided to subscribers of the NHIS in the Greater Accra Region of the Republic of Ghana in the year 2010, for accuracy and integrity in the submission of claims for services rendered to subscribers of the scheme and for generally contributing to the development of the scheme, this citation is conferred on Superior Medical Centre, Dome, Accra”.
For years, the centre has provided community based health delivery in the area of: Primary health care service which include immunisations, obstetrical services at the specialist level, gynaecological services at the specialist level, laboratory services and 24-hour emergency services.
The rest are infertility/fertility control and family planning services including artificial insemination, paediatric services at the specialists level, pathology services including pap smears and histology (tissue diagnosis) and consulting surgical services.
Dr Mahama said the centre had over the years provided quality services to especially people in the surrounding areas and also beyond.
“People travel from the sub-region and even beyond to seek medical attention,” he stated.
He explained that there were times that the centre, with support from other stakeholders in the health sector provided free services to local people which were geared towards health promotion.
To acquire the needed expertise to do what he loves to do best, Dr Mahama studied for his medical degree at the University of Ghana Medical School, Korle-Bu. After a year of housemanship, he returned to his home town, Nalerigu in the Northern Region of Ghana where he served as a General Practitioner with the Baptist Mission Medical Centre. He then proceeded to the United States of America (USA) where he did Residency in Obstetrics and Gynaecology under the late Ernest Nora, Chief of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Columbus Medical and Professor John Jack Sciarra of North-western University, Chicago.
He became the Chief Resident at the Columbus-Cuneo-Cabrini Medical from July 1979 to June 1980. He was appointed Clinical Instructor (Lecturer) at North-western University, Chicago after his Residency.
He returned to Ghana in 1990 to start the Superior Medical Centre Project and as a Lecturer with the University of Ghana Medical School. His return was encouraged by Prof. J.J. Sciarrha, who in collaboration with the late Prof. Tom Elkins, Prof. Tim Johnson and others from the UK, strengthened and elevated the Obstetric-Gynaecology Training Programme at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital to international status and recognition.
This was founded by the Carnegie Foundation. Under this funding, Dr Mahama taught Obstetric-Gynaecology Residents how to repair Vesico-Vaginal Fistulae (women who leak urine uncontrollably on account of neglected labour) in out-lying stations like the Baptist Medical Centre at Nalerigu and Nkawkaw.
During the interview, Dr Mahama said his main focus has been to use Superior Medical Centre as a starting point for reversing medical brain drain from Ghana.
As a reminder, the slogan of the Superior Medical Centre Project has remained "Stop the brain drain; join the brain gain", “Return and serve mother Ghana”.
To achieve the objective, Dr Mahama and his colleagues at the SMC, have for the past 20 years been collaborating with a number of medical practitioners who would have hitherto stayed abroad, to offer quality health care services to Ghanaians.
Cuurently, the centre’s major challenge is how to acquire land to expand the facility for many more Ghanaians to benefit from the quality services it has been offering over the years.