Category Archives: Health

Ankaful Medical Director apologises but staff reject it

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Some patients of the Hospital were discharged ahead of Thursday’s industrial action

The Medical Director of Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Eugene Dordoye, has apologised to staff of the hospital for the recent developments that have seen the latter embark on a sit-down strike.

The staff had petitioned the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, last month, citing reasons why they want Dr Dordoye removed from office.

They threatened a number of industrial actions if the Minister as well as the Mental Health Authority’s Chief Executive Officer, the Central Region Minister and the Municipal Chief Executive of the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEEA), who were copied in the petition, failed to meet their demands.

A sit-down strike began on Thursday but in a swift reaction Dr Dordoye has apologised.

“I apologize unreservedly to all staff of Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital who have been hurt by my approach, the CEO, MHA, Central Regional Minister, Health Minister and all others affected and I will surely improve and manage the change better than I have done in the past going forward,” his apology to the Minister of Health stated.

Read the full apology here

But staff say they won’t accept the apology.

Speaking on 3FM‘s Late Edition, spokesperson of the staff Malcolm Ali stressed: “We are not accepting any apology”.

He described Thursday’s apology as “ridiculous” and fingered the Authority for trying to trivialise the whole issue.

By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh||Ghana

Shortage of drugs hits NHIS in Lawra

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An official of the Lawra District Assembly addressing the forum in Kasalgri

Holders of the National Health Insurance Scheme card living in the Lawra District of the Upper West Region have expressed worry over the lack of supply of drugs under the scheme.

The subscribers, mostly women and the aged, complained that though the NHIS covers some types of ailments as well as some basic drugs, often, sick patients are told by health officials at the various health facilities in the district to go and buy their drugs in town because of shortage of drugs at the various government clinics.

This they said has become extremely challenging for them and in most cases they are unable to raise money to buy the drugs.

This came to light at a community forum organized by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in Kasalgri, a community in the Lawra District.

The forum, which was attended by officials of the Lawra District Assembly, traditional authorities, the media and community citizens, was aimed at enhancing public participation in local governance in Ghana.

One of the participants who spoke at the forum stressed that as a farmer, she has very little available to cater for herself and the family.

“Life is even more difficult for us when the harvesting period is over. We have no money except the little food we have to eat. Our hope is that when we fall sick, the NHIS will cover us especially those of us who have nothing left as cash on us. We therefore don’t have the means to go and buy our own drugs and if help does not come from anywhere it means we live with the sickness till we die,” she lamented.

Addressing the forum, an official of the Assembly, Cletus Chevuwe, assured the citizens that steps are being taken to ensure that the problems confronting the health sector and other sectors in the district are attended to and resolved as quickly as possible.

“Some of these challenges are issues we are looking into and hopefully we will find a lasting solution to them,” he remarked.

Other concerns raised by the citizens at the forum included the inadequate boreholes in the community, rampant bush burning that tend to destroy a lot of farms and the bad nature of their roads.

A programme officer of MFWA, Philip Acquaye, explained that there is the need for local citizens to be encouraged to actively participate in governance at the local level.

“This way, it makes policies and programmes of the district become more representative,” he remarked.

He said the MFWA is committed to ensuring that platforms in the media space are effectively utilized by citizens to engage local authorities on pertinent issues that confront their communities, effectively contribute to the formulation of policies at the local level of governance and demand accountability of the use of their resources.


8,700 premature babies die yearly in Ghana due to lack of incubators

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An improvised incubator

In February this year, 26-year old Jennifer Kapuri lost her week-old baby due to the non-availability of an incubator at the St Martin’s Catholic Hospital at Agroyesum in the Ashanti region.

Jennifer was delivered of her baby boy after carrying the pregnancy for 29 weeks.

But the baby was born premature, weighing one kilo and needed to be incubated.

The hospital was compelled to refer the baby to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi for incubation.

Unfortunately, Jennifer’s baby could not survive for more than 5 days on arrival at KATH.

“We went to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital to get our baby boy incubated but upon reaching there, we realized the situation over there is even worse. The hospital had incubators but not enough so four babies, including ours, were put in one incubator and this led to cross-infection leading to the death of our son,” the poor mother recalled.

Jennifer’s husband, Isaac Peprah, was hesitant in sending the baby to the KATH because of the facility’s known challenge of inadequate incubators.

“It was heartbreaking but we had to accept fate,” he said in a trembling voice. “I am very sure that if there were available incubators at St Martin’s Hospital, the four babies would have survived”.

In the Ashanti region, premature deaths account for 40 percent of neonatal deaths.

The situation at St Martin’s Hospital

The St. Martin’s Catholic Hospital at Agroyesum serves as the only referral centre for the over 30 health centres in Amansie West district of Ashanti Region.

The facility provides health care services to about 150 thousand residents in the over eighty communities within the district; which is considered as one of the most deprived in the region.
The hospital is one of the leading facilities for the effective treatment of Buruli Ulcer and Telemedicine care.

But mothers giving birth to premature babies at this facility are often in a state of mixed-feelings.

They are joyful that after waiting for days, weeks and months, the baby finally arrives.

But the mood turns to that of anxiety and worry when they realised they cannot access an incubator to keep the baby warm and effectively monitor the temperature.

Preterm babies

A premature or preterm birth takes place weeks before the baby is due. It occurs before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy giving the baby less time to develop in the womb.

The incubator is a life saver for premature babies. Most premature babies need to be in an incubator or in a heated cot for two to four weeks to help maintain their temperature in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) before reaching their original due date.

The only incubator at St. Martin’s hospital broke down beyond repairs five years ago. Since then, hospital authorities have had to resort to an improvised wooden radiant warmer with onion bulb to keep preterm babies warm.

An improvised wooden incubator

But health personnel are unable to regulate temperature and other key supporting elements available in real incubators.

They are also unable to prevent infections and control humidity in the provisional incubator.

“We have for the past years managed to use this improvised wooden radiant warmer to save several preterm babies but because it is not enclosed as an incubator, we are unable to prevent infections to the preterm. The worrying situation has resulted in loss of some preterm,” observed the Matron of the hospital, Reverend Sister Mary Assumpta Taabazung.

Helpless mothers look on as their precious ones give up because there is little health officials can do.

The St. Martins Hospital recently acquired two new radiant warmers when it constructed a new maternity block to improve maternal and child health.

But medical officer in-charge of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Dr Nana Osei Appau says preterm death continues to be a nightmare.

“Fifty percent of the neonatal deaths recorded in this facility were due to the absence of incubators to keep preterm babies. Six preterm babies have died in October 2017 alone. These deaths could have been prevented if we had some incubators,” he said.

The hospital needs at least three incubators to effectively deal with preterm cases.

Resorting to Kangaroo Mother Care

From January to October 2017, the St. Martin’s hospital received over 800 neonatal admissions, out of which 20 died. Fifty percent of the 20 deaths were premature cases.

Preterm babies who need to be incubated have to be transported about 60 kilometres from Agroyesum to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH).

Apart from the challenge of distance, the road network is in terrible state. The situation is compounded by the absence of an ambulance in the hospital to transport referred patients.

In the absence of incubators, Kangaroo mother care has been recommended to mothers, though the survival rate is not as effective as an incubator.

Kangaroo mother care involves a mother holding her child close to her breast – skin to skin – while covering the baby’s head and feet to prevent heat loss.

The method enables bonding between mother and child, creates warmth for the baby, and allows it suckle the mother’s breast.

Incubators cost between 5,000 and 20,000 US dollars, depending on the size and functions.
The administrator of the facility, Paul Ralph Odom, says the hospital could not procure incubators due to its high cost.

“The hospital’s finance is a bit stretched making it difficult for us to raise money to buy an incubator. Currently the National Health Insurance Authority owes us 8 months claims and a chunk of the money we generate internally is used in fuelling our plant due to frequent power outage by Electricity Company of Ghana,” he said.

Concerned parents like Isaac Peprah have pleaded with the government and other benevolent institutions to assist the hospital with incubators to curb preterm deaths.

Attaining sustainable development goal on health

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 15 million babies are born too early every year, out of which about one million die due to complications of preterm birth.

More than 60 percent of preterm births occur in Africa and South Asia.

In Ghana, 140,000 babies representing 14 per cent are born premature every year.

A total of 8,700 of these preterm babies die even before reaching 30 days of their life.

This means, every hour, one newborn baby dies because he or she is born premature.

Ashanti regional health director, Dr. Emmanual Tinkorang, is advocating the availability of an incubator for each district hospital.

Recommendations by the WHO on interventions to improve preterm birth outcomes, unstable newborns weighing 2000 grams or less at birth, is that they should be cared for in a thermo-neutral environment either under radiant warmers or in incubators.

With the non-availability of incubators in referral centres like St Martin’s Catholic Hospital and other major health centres in the country, achieving the Sustainable Development Goal three, which among others seeks to reduce child mortality, will only be a mirage.

By Ibrahim Abubakar||Ghana

Pregnant women cautioned against alcohol intake

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A midwife at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi is cautioning pregnant women against the consumption of alcoholic beverages, warning of serious consequences including deformities to their unborn babies.

Ms. Juliana Bosomprah who is the Deputy Director of Nursing Services at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department of KATH said if a pregnant women takes in alcohol, it enters her bloodstream and passed on to the unborn baby thus exposing it to irreparable damage.

Speaking to some pregnant women at a sensitization programme in Kumasi, Ms. Bosomprah said the situation could even lead to miscarriages.

“Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a condition characterized by facial deformities, behavioural and learning problems that occur in persons whose mothers consumed alcohol while pregnant,” she said.

She said this at an Accra Brewery Limited (ABL) programme to sensitize women on the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy as part of the company’s social corporate responsibility.

Started four years ago, the programme, organized in partnership with the Reproductive Health Out Patient Departments of some major health facilities, has so far impacted over 3,000 women.

Ms. Bosomprah told the pregnant women that unborn babies absorb alcohol when it enters the blood stream causing damage to the foetus’ developing cells and nervous system; something she indicated could cause miscarriages, stillbirths and premature births.

The midwife introduced the women to the effects of alcohol consumption on the mother and her unborn child, and advised women to stay away from alcohol prior to and during pregnancy.

Corporate Affairs Manager of ABL, Cyrus deGraft-Johnson, said the programme is geared towards the safety of pregnant women and their unborn babies.

“This sensitization programme forms part of our social responsibility to keep mothers and their babies healthy”.

 By Ibrahim Abubakar||Ghana

Akufo-Addo to pursue ‘Toilet for All’ in 2018

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60 per cent of households in Kumasi without toilet facilities rely on public toilets

Government has announced it will from next year pursue a ‘Toilet for All’ agenda in a bid to end open defecation in the country.

Consequent to that, it will provide 200,000 household toilets and 20,000 institutional latrines to selected communities, Finance Minister Ken Ofor-Atta announced in the 2018 Budget statement presented to Parliament Wednesday.

The initiative which would be under the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, he said, forms part of government’s larger programme on sanitation management.“The Ministry will provide 200,000 household toilets and 20,000 Institutional latrines to selected communities under the ‘Toilet for All’ agenda in a bid meet the SDG on ending open defacation,” Mr. Ofori-Atta said.

READ: Sanitation day is now everyday – Prez declares

Nations signatories to the SDG should achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation by 2030.

Ghana was in January this year ranked as second in Africa in open defecation with 19 per cent of its population resorting to sanitation practice deemed the riskiest of all.

The Tamale Metropolis in the Northern Region is the second highest percentage of people who defecate in the open in the country.

The practice, which is prevalent in rural and coastal areas, according to health officials, poses one of the greatest dangers to human health because it has fatal consequences for the most vulnerable including children.

A 2012 World Bank report said open defecation costs Ghana over 79 million dollars a year, and estimated, that one in five Ghanaians defecate openly, whilst only one in seven house-holds in the country have toilet facilities.

At the launch of the National Sanitation Campaign by government last Monday, UNICEF country representative, Ms. Rushnan Murtaza, warned it would take Ghana 90 years to end open defecation if efforts are not doubled.

By Stephen Kwabena Effah||Ghana

313 million women to get diabetes by 2040

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About 199 million women live and suffer with diabetes globally, the Member of Parliament for Ledzokuku Dr. Ako Boye revealed in Parliament on Tuesday. 

In a statement to commemorate World Diabetes Day which falls on 14th November annually, the legislator said the number is estimated to reach 313 million by 2040.

The theme for 2017 is: “Women and Diabetes, Our Right to Healthy Future”.

He said the global prevalence of diabetes has doubled since 1980 rising from 4.7% to 8.5% of the adult population, citing the global report on diabetes issued by the World Health Organization as source.

The MP, who is a member of the Health Committee in Parliament, observed that symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, increase thirst, weight lose, and dryness in the mouth. He also mentioned risk factors which are aging – 40 years and above -, overweight, family history, sedentary life style, unhealthy food consumption, red meat,

Dr. Oko Boye recommended that all pregnant women should have their third blood sugar level checked together with that of their husbands which he referred to as Couple Testing Regime. This he said can help people to know their diabetes status.

The Member of Parliament for Klotey Korle Dr. Ezenator Rawlings, supporting the statement, cautioned both children and adults to check their consumption of sweet beverages to avoid gaining weight.

She asked her colleague MPs to at least exercise thrice a week to keep fit. Dr. Ezenator had earlier this year suggested to Parliament to set up a gem for members to be exercising for good health.

World Diabetes Day has been celebrated every year since 2006.

By Onua FM |Owoahene Omari Acheampong|

Upper East records 19,815 new birth registration in 9 months

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The refurbished office of the Birth and Death Registry at Bolga

A total of 19,815 birth registrations were recorded in the Upper East Region between January and September this year, officials have revealed.

The figure represents 72 per cent of the 36,670-target given to the region.

Speaking at the commissioning of a refurbished regional office of the Births and Deaths Registry in Bolgatanga by the World Vision International and UNICEF, officials announced they are targeting 100 per cent of birth registration.

The Upper East Regional Births and Deaths Registry has now been fitted with automated equipment and office furniture to attain full registration coverage of infants.

With the new registry, all birth registration forms will be transmitted directly to Accra for printing, something that was done manually previously.

Upper East Regional Director of Births and Deaths Registry, Issifu Damba, said with the refurbished registry with modern facilities, they will achieve 100 per cent birth registration.

“This new regional births and deaths registry will ensure 100 per cent birth registration coverage in the region” he assured.

Birth registration is an essential tool for providing a child with a legal identity and a gateway to accessing health, economic, political and legal services.

It also confirms a child’s nationality, place of birth, parents and age among others.

A research conducted by World Vision International Public Policy on Birth Registration in 2014 revealed that more than 50 million births go unregistered each year in the world.

National Director of WVG, Dickens Thunde, said “the new structure will not only aid in registering every birth in the region, but also issue out instant birth certificates to children”

UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Emelia Allan, said his outfit would continue to work with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to strengthen capacities of officials of the Births and Deaths Registry to attain full registration of infants in Ghana.

World vision International in 2017, invested GHc773, 898 in the Birth and Deaths Registry across the country, in the provision of computers, furniture, motor bikes, automated equipment and the registration of 25,000 children births for free.

By Rabiu Tanko||Ghana

Minister justifies ‘dismissal’ of Ridge Hospital Director

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Kwaku Agyemang-Manu is the Minister of health

Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, has justified the ‘dismissal’ of Dr Thomas Anaba as the Medical Director of the Ridge Hospital in Accra, something that triggered power struggle at the facility six months ago.

Dr. Anaba was appointed on February 1, 2016 by the Mahama government as the Medical Director of the Hospital for a four year term, but the Akufo-Addo government per a letter dated May 10, reassigned him to the University of Development Studies (UDS), where he previously worked.

But Dr. Anaba refused to leave his duty post, claiming his transfer was done in bad faith and without basis whatsoever.

His refusal to hand over to Dr Emmanuel Kwabla Srofenyoh who was directed to take over from him, caused tension between him and the Health Minister.

Dr. Anaba has since resorted to court to seek justice for what he termed as unlawful termination of his appointment.

READ: Dr. Anabah sues govt; seeks reinstatement

Answering questions on the issue in Parliament Thursday, the Minister indicated that Dr Anaba was never contracted as a permanent medical director of the referral facility, which is now the Greater Accra Regional Hospital.He explained that Dr Anaba was only on secondment at the Hospital from UDS.

Mr. Agyemang Manu told Parliament Dr. Anaba was even drawing his salaries from UDS while he was the medical director of the Ridge Hospital.

“Dr. Anaba was on secondment, he hadn’t resigned from the University of Development studies. He still had the job waiting for him and therefore Ghana Health Serivce couldn’t have contained him when we had completed and we were trying operationalise the facility. We needed somebody to be there permanently,” the Minister explained.

He added “”we didn’t want to take any risk on that matter and that is why we requested he goes back to his previous position so we can put a more permanent person in the facility,”

The Minister also said it was not correct that Dr. Anaba was given a four year contract, saying “Dr Anaba appointment was on contract for two years and not four years”.

By Mercydalyne Lokko||Ghana

Having sex could slow down aging but… – Study finds

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Having sex at least once per week can help people age better but this was a small and short study, so more research is needed.

It’s no secret that sex comes with many benefits, but a new study suggests that having sex frequently can also keep you from aging. Well, sort of.

The study, conducted by the University of California in San Francisco, monitored the sexual habits of 129 mothers in relationships over one week. Researchers found that those who had sex at least once during that week had significantly longer telomeres, nucleoprotein caps at the end of DNA strands that protect chromosomes from deteriorating, than those who didn’t.

Telomeres naturally break down due to aging, poor diet, and high alcohol use, according to the study. But being physically active, eating well, and, apparently, having sex, can help mend and lengthen them. Other studies suggest that these telomeres can help you live longer and keep up physical and mental health as you age.

Something interesting about the study however, is that relationship satisfaction, daily support or conflict, or perceived stress had nothing to do with telmoreres length. Neither did the participants sex drive or enjoyment of sex.

Obviously more research here is needed as it was such a small study done over a short period of time. But other studies have pegged once a week to be an ideal number of times to have sex with your partner as well, so it’s not a bad goal to strive for.

But it’s also important to remember that you should be having sex as much as you and your partner want to be. There are a lot of things that may prolong your life that will make you a lot happier than having routine and unfulfilling sex.


Journalists from West and Central Africa schooled on new HIV plan

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Participants in a group photo

About 30 journalists from 25 West and Central African countries have undergone capacity training on a new HIV Catch-Up Plan for the region where 4.7 million people living with HIV are not receiving treatment.  

Dubbed “Informing the Messengers”, the regional workshop organized by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), saw the selected journalists enlightened on the new emergency plan that seeks to  accelerate the HIV response in Central and West Africa.

According to UNAIDS while global response to HIV is accelerating, millions of people in Western and Central Africa are being left behind, hence the need  for an urgent response to support those countries to meet the global target to end AIDS.

Figures from the global body show that while the world witnessed a significant progress, with 57% of all people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 46% of all people living with HIV accessing treatment and 38% of all people living with HIV virally suppressed in 2015, countries in West and Central Africa achieved only 36%, 28% and 12%, respectively, in the same period.

It is estimated that in the 25 countries of western and central Africa, 6.5 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2015, including 500, 000 children. The region accounted for 18% of the global HIV burden, despite having only 6% of the global population.

West and Central Africa has an HIV treatment gap of 4.7 million people. Only 1.8 million people living with HIV were on antiretroviral therapy at the end of 2015. This sharply contrasts with figures from Eastern and Southern Africa, which had a treatment coverage of 54% in 2015.

Again, while nine in 10 pregnant women have access to treatment in Eastern and Southern Africa, only five women in 10 do in Western and Central Africa, despite there being fewer people living with HIV in the region.

The HIV Catch-Up Plan which is linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), is a political instrument and a compact between countries and the international community that supports countries’ strategies and plans to quickly address bottlenecks.

It is to supplement national strategies and existing plans with the aim of increasing antiretroviral treatment uptake and saving lives. It also aims to put an additional 1.2 million people living with HIV in Central and West Africa, under treatment by the end of 2018.

The new catch-up plan was adopted by the Heads of State and Government at the 29th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.

The two-day workshop in Dakar, Senegal, had representatives from the African-American and African Diaspora Press in the USA, and high level UNAIDS officials, including some UNAIDS Country Directors.

Journalists were taken through interactive presentations and open discussions on the need to scale up the response to HIV in the region.

Dr. Djibrill Diallo, Regional Director of UNAIDS for Western and Central Africa

Speaking at the event, the Regional Director of UNAIDS for Western and Central Africa, Dr. Djibrill Diallo, said the workshop was to brief media practitioners on the current situation of HIV and AIDS in the region, and also to offer them the platform to network, and better inform the public on this new emergency plan, which is an essential step towards reaching the global target of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

“This workshop highlights the importance the UNAIDS gives to the communication dimension of all its actions and initiatives”.

He said communication is one of the 4 pillars of the Catch-up Plan alongside political mobilisation, fund raising and the programmatic dimension, stressing that the  UNAIDS is  convinced that the media will play a fundamental role for the success of the Catch-Up Plan.

Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of UNAIDS, was optimistic that   through the reports, inquiries and opinion pieces by journalists, the region can raise awareness among the populations of the region to change their behaviours and foster a positive dynamic to put an end to AIDS by 2030.

He noted that as part of the plan, a total of US$ 20 million has been reprogrammed in existing Global Fund grants to cover antiretroviral therapy needs. He said new funding from PEPFAR has also been negotiated by countries.

It is estimated that with this plan, at least 850 000 people, including 60 000 children, diagnosed as living with HIV but not yet enrolled in care will receive sustained high-quality antiretroviral therapy by mid-2018.

The plan also hopes to ensure that an additional 250 000 people living with HIV, including 60 000 children, who have been newly tested, know their HIV-positive status and are linked to sustained high quality antiretroviral therapy by mid-2018.

Ten countries in West and Central Africa have already developed and implemented their catch-up plan. These plans were developed by the local national AIDS commissions and approved by the highest political authorities.