Category Archives: Health

AIDS deaths halve as more get drugs

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Deaths linked to Aids have halved in a decade, official figures shows.

The condition, which is caused by HIV, used to be one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.

A report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) showed deaths had fallen from a peak of 1.9 million in 2005 to 1 million last year.

It said the “scales have tipped”, with more than half of people getting drug treatment for the first time.

An HIV infection cannot be cured – it can only be contained with daily doses of antiretroviral therapy.

Unchecked, it destroys the immune system, causing Aids. At this point people tend to die from other “opportunistic infections” such as tuberculosis.

Worldwide, 36.7 million are living with HIV and 53% of them are getting the therapy that gives a near-normal life expectancy.

Michel Sidibe, the executive director of UNAids, said: “We met the 2015 target of 15 million people on treatment and we are on track to double that number to 30 million and meet the 2020 target.

“We will continue to scale up to reach everyone in need and honour our commitment of leaving no-one behind.”

UNAids said eastern and southern Africa were “leading the way” and had cut new HIV infections by nearly a third since 2010.

Life expectancy has increased by 10 years over the past decade too.

The agency has set a series of goals known as the 90-90-90 targets.

The aim is for 90% of people with HIV to be diagnosed, 90% of those to get therapy and 90% of those to have their infection suppressed, by 2020.

In 2016 the figures were 70%, 77% and 82% respectively.

Mr Sidibe added: “Communities and families are thriving as Aids is being pushed back.”

However, the agency warned that inadequate treatment in north Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe had seen death rates increase sharply.

Source: BBC

Parliament orders private developers on Pantang lands to stop work

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Parliament’s Select Committees on Health and Lands and Forestry have jointly ordered all private developers on Pantang Psychiatric Hospital lands to stop work and produce all necessary  documents for further engagement.

A visit by members of the joint committee on Health as well as Lands and Forestry on Tuesday was a follow-up to the recent strike and demonstration by workers of the Hospital over the encroachment of their land.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health Dr. Kwabena Twum-Nuamah noted that the mission of the team was to observe the extent of encroachment, engage with management of the Hospital and find a lasting solution to the issue.

On his part, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Lands and Forestry, Francis Manu-Adabor, indicated the team was on a fact-finding mission and urged all stakeholders to comply with directives.

Medical Director of the Pantang Hospital Dr. Frank Baning, who briefed the team on the encroachment, highlighted some major challenges affecting the running of the mental hospital.

“Our building is a danger to both staff and patients…the internal road network is in a bad state.”

Dr. Baning also lamented the lack of medicines, staff, and funds, which he admits was crippling operations at the Hospital.

He therefore called for a sustainable means to enhance operations of the Hospital.

The team visited the encroached lands in the company of the Medical Director, who showed them document to back their claim.

The team later interacted with some developers on-site and ordered them to stop work and produce documents.

Mr Manu-Adabor assured all necessary engagements and action would be employed to bring an end to the encroachment.

By Esi Benewaa Nyame|TV3||Ghana

Ghana reaches 90% coverage of vaccination for three diseases

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The 2016 Immunization Data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that Ghana has reached the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) target of 90% coverage for the third dose of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine (DTP3).

The Plan is a measure commonly used to evaluate the strength of routine immunization programmes.

GVAP was endorsed by Ghana along with all WHO member states in 2012 to prevent millions of deaths by 2020 through more equitable access to vaccines.

Earlier this year, at the 28th African Union Summit, heads of state from across Africa reaffirmed their commitment to achieving the GVAP goals by endorsing the Addis Declaration on Immunization (ADI).

The ADI outlines 10 commitments to increase vaccine-related funding, strengthen vaccine supply chains and delivery systems, and make universal access to immunization a cornerstone of health and development efforts.

DTP3 coverage has increased in Ghana from 88% in 2015 to 93% in 2016.

By Esi Benewaa Nyame||Ghana

Judiciary engaged on mental health law

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Prayer camps chaining mental health patients came up for discussions

Ahead of the implementation of the Mental Health Law by the legislature, some top hierarchy members of the Mental Health Authority have engaged members of the Judicial Council in the Northern, Upper East, and Upper West regions on some insights of the law.

The team led by the Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, Dr Akwasi Osei, took the Judicial Council through the nitty-gritty of the law in Tamale, Northern Region.

The Mental Health Act was enacted by Parliament  in 2012 – Act 846 – but according to Dr Osei, the rollout has been very slow, a situation heavily blamed on the late establishment of a governing body, which was only done after one and half years of implementation of the law.

That he says slowed down the passage of the law hence Ghana still battling with some inaccuracies in mental health care. Among such inaccuracies are the absence of psychiatric hospitals in some regions and the inability of citizens to demand from the Regional Coordinating Councils a safe haven for the mentally unstable.

“It took about one and half years after the enactment of the law for a mental health governing body to be established and it’s when that body was established before we began to roll out the implementation, even so we still have the Legislative Instrument which will fully enable the law to be functional and yet to be passed.”

As Ghana prepares to implement the Legislative Instrument(LI), the Authority deems it appropriate to engage members of the Judicial Council being cognizant of the role it plays in the implementation of laws.

The training witnessed presentation of the Act with members taken through how to deal with mental health patients who appear before them, identify true patients from those who pretend just to escape from the law.

“We are here to engage the judiciary for them to understand issues of mental health generally so that when they come face-to-face with patients, either somebody who has mental health illness or pretending to have mental health problem, they will be able to handle them because we’re aware of the role the judiciary play in law making.”

Aside being trained on identifying real mentally challenged persons and their rights to social justice and hearings, the training also sought to share knowledge on depression, a phenomenon identified among the judiciary and the psychiatrists but least talked about.

“The training will help members of the judiciary identify depression which is a very major issue so as they recognize and understand depression [and that] they will be able to handle it even when they are beginning to exhibit traits of depression themselves, identify their own stress issues among their colleagues and handle it because the judiciary and the psychiatrists are among the two groups professionals who undergo a lot of stress in Ghana,” Dr Osei indicated.

The Mental Health Act seeks to bring a new approach that will ensure a completely new kind of mental health care, for instance, the almost takeover of the streets by the mentally ill persons, owners of prayer camps putting patients in chains, whipping and maltreating them, too much discrimination and stigmatization, marginalization of the mentally ill by the ordinary people, and even among policy makers, and also seek to address the inability of the mental ill person to afford medications.”

By Zubaida Ismail||Tamale, N/R|Ghana

Australian man’s thumb surgically replaced by toe

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Surgeons attached Zac Mitchell’s big toe to his hand

An Australian cattle worker whose thumb was severed by a bull has had his toe surgically transplanted in its position.

Zac Mitchell, 20, was injured in April while working on a remote farming property in Western Australia.

“A bull kicked my hand into the fence,” Mr Mitchell said of the incident.

He underwent two unsuccessful operations to reattach his thumb before doctors opted to relocate his big toe in surgery lasting eight hours.

Mr Mitchell said fellow workers had attempted to preserve his thumb immediately after the accident.

“They put it in the esky [cooler] with some ice,” he told the BBC.

Mr Mitchell was flown to hospital in the state capital of Perth, but efforts to save his thumb ultimately failed.

Difficult choice

Despite initial reluctance, the cattle worker agreed to the transplant operation at the Sydney Eye Hospital two weeks ago.

Lead plastic surgeon Dr Sean Nicklin said he was not surprised it took time to accept.

“It is a bit of a crazy idea – they [patients] do not want to be injured in another part of their body,” he said.

“[However] even if you have got four good fingers, if you do not have something to pinch against them, your hand has lost a huge amount of its function.”

An X-ray showing Mr Mitchell’s thumb injury

Mr Mitchell will need more than 12 months of rehabilitation, but he plans to return to farm work.

The Sydney Eye Hospital said it was rare to transplant a complete toe, like in Mr Mitchell’s case, although partial toe relocations were more common.

“A lot of people think their balance and walking is going to be significantly affected which it generally isn’t,” Dr Nicklin said.

Mr Mitchell’s mum, Karen, said he was making a good recovery.

“Two weeks since the operation his walking is almost back to normal.”

Doctors say Mr Mitchell should eventually be able to return to his hobby of bull riding.

Source: BBC

Health minister intervention results in call-off of Pantang strike

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Health Minister assured Pantang staff of further engagements with Lands and Local Gov’t ministries

Staff of Pantang Psychiatric Hospital have called of their strike following a crunch meeting with the Minister of Health.

Kwaku Agyemang Manu was at the hospital on Wednesday to hear the workers’ grievances as regards the encroachment of lands in front of the medical facility.

Together with Medical Director Dr Frank Baning and Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority Dr Akwasi Osei, Mr Agyemang Manu assured the workers of government’s commitment to deal with the issue.

He assured them of further engagements with the ministries of Lands and Natural Resources and Local Government and Rural Development to put the matter to rest.

TV3’s Esi Benewaa Nyame reports from the hospital that the workers are satisfied with the intervention.

Leader of the workers Elvis Akuamoah told TV3’s health correspondent that their expectation has been met since that is what they hoped for.

The workers had begun with a sit-down strike on Monday to register their anger at the burgeoning of permanent structures in front of the hospital.

The second industrial action was activated on Wednesday after workers hit the streets from Pantang to Adenta-Barrier – and back.

They had threatened further protests if government had not intervened.


Pantang staff hit streets over land encroachment

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The demonstrating staff returned after over an hour of demonstration (Photo: Esi B. Nyame/TV3)

Staff of Pantang Psychiatric Hospital on Wednesday marched from the medical facility to Adenta-Barrier, and back, to register their displeasure at the mass encroachment on their lands.

This is the second in a series of industrial actions by staff to get government to stop the encroachment in front of the hospital.

On Monday, staff embarked on a sit-down as the first of many industrial actions to get their grievances resolved.

They claim the takeover of the frontage of the hospital by private developers is hampering the hospital’s operations while workers are exposed to vices such as thefts and attacks.

On Wednesday, hundreds of staff including nurses and house officers carried placards during the over one-hour procession.

One of the placards read: ‘Resist Encroachment of Pantang Land’.

Medical Director of the Hospital Dr Frank Baning told TV3‘s Esi Benewaa Nyame after the demonstration that the situation is getting out of hand.

He recounted how his official vehicle was broken into recently.


Measles ‘tragedy’ kills 35 across Europe

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Thirty-five people have died in the past year from measles outbreaks across Europe, the World Health Organization has warned.

It described the deaths – which can be prevented with vaccination – as an “unacceptable tragedy”.

A six-year-old boy in Italy was the latest to die from the infection. More than 3,300 measles cases have been recorded in the country.

The most fatalities – 31 – have been in Romania.

But there have also been deaths in Germany and Portugal since June 2016.

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO regional director for Europe, said: “Every death or disability caused by this vaccine-preventable disease is an unacceptable tragedy.

“We are very concerned that although a safe, effective and affordable vaccine is available, measles remains a leading cause of death among children worldwide, and unfortunately Europe is not spared.

“I urge all endemic countries to take urgent measures to stop transmission of measles within their borders, and all countries that have already achieved this to keep up their guard and sustain high immunisation coverage.”

Measles is highly contagious, but vaccinating 95% of the population should prevent it spreading.

Germany is looking at tightening the law on immunisations.

And the government in Italy is pushing for children to be vaccinated against 12 common illnesses before they can enrol for state-run schools.

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni blamed a decrease in vaccinations in part on a “spread of anti-scientific theories”.

A lingering false belief that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab causes autism is largely to blame, despite the claims being disproven and the doctor who made them being struck off.

What is measles?

  • Unvaccinated young children are at highest risk of measles and its complications, including death
  • Measles is spread by direct contact and through the air by coughs and sneezes
  • The virus remains active and contagious on infected surfaces for up to two hours
  • The first signs of infection are usually a high fever and cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose
  • You may notice small white spots on the inside of the cheeks as well
  • After several days, a rash develops, usually on the face and neck first and then spreading to the body and limbs
  • An infected person can pass on the virus to others from four days prior to developing the skin rash to four days after the rash erupts
  • There is no treatment, but two doses of vaccine can prevent infection in the first place

Source: BBC

Parliament to summon Health Minister over Pantang land encroachment

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Kwaku Agyemang-Manu is the Minister of Health

Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health Collins Ntim has disclosed that Parliament will soon haul the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, before it to answer some questions concerning the Pantang land encroachment issue.

The Offinso North Member of Parliament and Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development also believes that Parliament’s intervention will help end the encroachment around the Pantang Psychiatric Hospital.

Staff of the Hospital on Monday began a sit-down strike as way of registering their displeasure over the encroachment of their land by some private developers.

The staff have also threatened to turn away patients and subsequently hit the streets if government fails to address their concerns.

Explaining the rationale behind the sit-down strike action taken by the staff of the Hospital to Bright Kwesi Asempa on Onua FM’s morning show Yen Nsem Pa, Head of Communication of the Ghana Mental Health Authority Kwaku Brobbey stated that several calls on authorities to have the issue addressed have all fallen on deaf ears.

“We have been to the corridors of power, we have had several meetings with the former Minister and even the current minister, but nothing concrete had been taken. We believe the encroachment would halt if government should issue a warning against this impunity.”

However, while lauding the actions of the workers by describing it as an “act of patriotism”, Chairman of the Health Committee disclosed that the issue with the encroachers around the health facility has been one that seem not to end, adding that it is time Parliament intervened in order to ensure that workers have peace to work effectively.

“We will also look at the issue of acquisition to see if the land was acquired genuinely and all the other issues related to the matter. I’m promising you that we will deal with the issue,” he further told Bright Kwesi Asempa.

He disclosed that the leadership of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health will meet on Tuesday for consultations and deliberations on the matter, adding “I’m going to direct the Municipal Chief Executive of the area to go and assess and investigate the issues on behalf of the committee, so as  to get a proper briefing on the matter”.

By Bright Dzakah|Onua 95.1FM||Ghana

Pantang staff begin sit-down strike; threaten to hit streets if…

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file photo

Staff of the Pantang Psychiatric Hospital have begun an industrial action, which will see workers not doing any work though reporting to work.

The sit-down strike is in protest to the mass encroachment on lands in front of the medical facility.

Staff say the situation is hampering operations of the Hospital while they are also made vulnerable to thefts and attacks, in most cases.

Head of the Senior Staff Association of the Hospital Elvis Akuamoah had hinted of Monday’s strike and said there will be a halt in operations if the situation is not resolved by Wednesday.

He added that they will scale up their protest by hitting the streets if things turn out worse.

Representative of the Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA) Winfred Duasah told TV3’s Esi Benewaa Nyame that they have registered their displeasure about the situation several times to management but nothing seems to be forthcoming.

“We have organised a series of demonstrations…but still nothing has been done about it.”

The workers want the space in front of the Hospital cleared of the growing permanent structures most of which are residences.