Category Archives: Health

Convention to protect humans from mercury effects comes into force

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A global treaty that seeks to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury has from today, August 16, come into force.

Ghana’s environmental group, Abibiman Foundation, has welcomed Minamata Convention on Mercury, which is this first new multilateral environmental agreement in over a decade, as a turning point for the plant and human health.

“From today, we have the opportunity to chart a new course; a course that is expected to control the anthropogenic releases of mercury throughout its lifecycle in order to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of mercury and its related compounds,” said Kenneth Nana Amoateng, Executive Director of the Foundation.

The Minamata Convention was adopted in October 2013 but in accordance with Article 31, enters into force, ninety days after the date of deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, which happened on May 18, 2017.

According to the UN Environmental Programme (UNDP), exposure to mercury has debilitating effects on the brain and nervous system, digestive system and the kidney, among others. Memory loss and language impairment as well as harmful effects on unborn children and infants are also known to be products of exposure to mercury and environmental damage estimated at $22 billion.

From 2020, the Convention will ban the production, import and export of products that contain mercury, including blood pressure monitors, clinical thermometers, high-pressure mercury lamps, and topical antiseptic agents.

Until then, the Convention will encourage signatory countries to gradually reduce their use of mercury. In the case of small-scale gold mining, for which mercury is being used indiscriminately, the Convention has stipulated reduction in usage of mercury.

The treaty also states that for constructing coal-powered thermal power plants, the countries which are signatories will be required to include equipment to help minimize mercury emissions.

So far, there are 128 Signatories and 74 Parties to the Convention.

The Government of th Ghana signed the Convention on September 24, 2014 and ratified it on March 23, 2017.

Ghana’s main regulatory body, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has put together a national planning committee for ensuring the enforcement of the provisions of the Convention.

The Abibiman Foundation has called on the EPA to adopt a ‘bottom-up’ rather than a ‘top-down’ approach to ensure all relevant stakeholders are actively involved in the process.

The Foundation also demands among others, research into sources of illegal mercury imports, including the existing or likely mercury entry points into Ghana, and the distribution networks within the country; and transparency in the implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

The Government of Ghana has also been asked to make available resource allocation for the National Action Plan to address challenges relating to the reduction and elimination of Mercury.

By Kofi Adu Domfeh||Ghana

New cervical cancer vaccine may cure disease

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Cervical cancer could completely be eliminated, according to research, thanks to a new vaccine being reviewed by Australia’s Pharmaceutical Authority.

A Melbourne-based study, led by the Royal Women’s Hospital and Victorian Cytology Service, looked at nearly 900 samples of cervical cancer, and found the Gardasil Vaccine being given to students in their first year of secondary school protects about s 77 per cent of them.

The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, which is available to the Ghana News Agency, found the new Gardasil Vaccine protected against 93 per cent of cancers.

The lead researcher, Associate Professor Julia Brotherton, said the research was very exciting.

“It’s truly ground-breaking,” she said.

“The possibility that we can now prevent our children being infected with this cancer-causing virus, I just think that’s amazing,” she said.

Dr Brotherton said Gardasil Vaccine was being used in the US and New Zealand.

The current Gardasil Vaccine protects people against more than two thirds of cervical cancer types.

Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee is reviewing how cost-effective the new vaccine is for Australia, and a decision is due later this month.

Professor Brotherton said she expected the Committee would consider the research.

“I’m very hopeful that this vaccine will become available to young people in the first year of high school when we give the vaccine, hopefully as early as next year,” she said.

Another benefit to the new vaccine is that it requires fewer injections; it requires three doses.

Professor Brotherton, however, said if it was administered before age 14, then only two doses would be given.

The study was conducted in partnership with cancer pathology laboratories in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Source GNA

President urges doctors to accept postings to rural communities

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Saturday urged newly qualified doctors to accept postings to rural communities.

He said young doctors who were posted to rural communities to undertake their housemanship should not to see it as a form of punishment, adding; “The missionary and sacrificial aspect of this noble profession must not be lost on you.”

President Akufo-Addo made the call when he delivered a speech at the 50th Congregation and Fifth Oath Taking and Induction Ceremony of the School of Medical Sciences of the University of Cape Coast.

“The early Ghanaian doctors of legend, the pioneers who built the medical profession such as Charles Easmon, Silas Dodoo, Cornelius Quarcoopome and Felix Konotey-Ahulu, on their return home from qualifying in England, went to work in the rural areas with relish and enthusiasm, at a time when our country was less developed and with fewer infrastructure,” he said.

The President noted that Ghana’s doctor-population ratio, being approximately one doctor to eight thousand patients, was even more lopsided in the rural and deprived communities of the country.

“I do not put all the blame on our medical doctors’ unwillingness to work in these communities. If we have good road networks, and good schools are available around the country and not only in the urban centres, if we have electricity supply in all communities, we would not have to be asking, indeed, insisting that our young doctors go to work in the rural communities,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo acknowledged that once the right conditions were in place, doctors would, then, find well-developed rural communities more attractive to bring up their young families.

He was, however, pleased with the programme instituted by the School of Medical Sciences, under which medical students spend six weeks each year in rural communities in the Central and Eastern regions.

“This is aimed at giving them strong community orientation, and also increasing their awareness of the interrelationship between lifestyle and health. I hope and pray that this enables them to build lifelong and healthy appreciation of the situations in our rural communities, which would stay with them long after they have qualified,” President Akufo-Addo said.

The President said as Ghana trained more doctors to bridge the shortage gap, more must be done to keep them in the country, and not lose them to the advanced economies of this world.

“We will only retain our trained doctors and other professionals when agriculture and industry are thriving, when we have better roads, better communications, better schools, better housing, reliable and cheaper power supply, and better drainage.

“On my part, I am determined to work to help ensure that these improvements we all want in our lives become reality. Until that is done, we have to equip those currently in training and the fresh doctors to do a little more out of the ordinary to bring relief to the present situation,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo urged the young doctors to feel privileged to work amidst the mysteries of life, as well as gain the trust of patients and treat each one with dignity.

He admonished them to listen and give respect to all their colleagues in the healthcare chain – technicians, nurses, clerks, cleaners, et al.

“You will be surrounded by death, but please remain human and do not lose your emotions. People will die, but many will be healed, complications will occur, but make sure you remain true to science, the truth and reason.

“And in doing so, never lose your faith in God. I have no doubt you will continue to discover, as all the great scientists have, the presence of the Omnipotent One in the ordering of the Universe,” the President said.

“Let your Hippocratic Oath be your guide and guard in the discharge of your duties. Your joy and fulfillment should lie in the well-being of your patients,” he said.

Source GNA

Traders at Dome Market have high blood pressure, diabetes – doctors

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Traders at the Dome Market during the health screening exercise with Philipa Baafi [in green]

About 70% of market traders medically screened at the Dome Market in Accra have high blood pressure and diabetes.

Their condition have been blamed on long hours of sitting and their inability to have regular medical checks due to the nature of their jobs, medical officials from the Ministry of Health and the Ga South Municipal Hospital have said.

This came to light when the Philipa Baafi Foundation organised a free health screening at the Dome Market for the traders.

More than 500 people were screened for blood pressure, glucose/sugar level, malaria and body mass index (BMI) which are noted to be the common ailments among a number of market women.

Others were given physiotherapy treatment by the popular gospel musician, Philipa Baafi who is a physiotherapist.

Condition of two of the traders was very high to the extent that the medical team suggested they be taken to hospital in a waiting ambulance for medical attention but they declined the offer.

Dr Sena from the Ministry of Health observed, “most of the people screened were very much aware of their condition but were not prepared to seek further medical attention.

“The traders refused to be taken to the hospital because they claim there will be nobody to take care of their wares and again they needed to sell to get their daily bread,” the doctor added.

Member of Parliament for Dome-Kwabenya and Deputy Majority Leader in Parliament, told the traders to take their health serious since that is the only they can live longer and healthy.

MP for the area, Adjoa Sarfo [2nd Left]

She assured them that the government would never abandon them in their quest to have their share of the national cake, noting the government will soon role out soft loans scheme to enable them expand their business.

Ms Adwoa Sarfo charged the traders to ensure that the market is always kept clean to prevent diseases.

Hundreds of traders, shoppers and passersby trooped to the Dome Market of the Ga East Municipality for the screening exercise dubbed “How Well Are You”.

Philipa Baafi entertained the traders with some of her hit songs

It was organised by the foundation of the popular gospel musician, Philipa Baafi, with support from MTN, GOIL Ghana Limited, Tobinco Pharmaceuticals, Anadwo Ye De Mosquito Coil, Tinatette Herbal.

The event was also used to entertain the patrons with Philipa Baafi, performing some of her hit songs


Couple demands justice, corpses of babies died of medical negligence in 2010

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A couple who lost their twin babies at the Tema General Hospital in 2010 as a result of alleged negligence have renewed their demand for justice and the bodies of the babies for burial.

Their 2010 petition to the then Health Minister, Dr Benjamin Kunbour, which was copied to the Medical and Dental Council, as well as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) did not receive answers

The couple have now renewed the petition and submitted to the current Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu.

According to the couple, maternal health officials told them that one of the twins was born macerated – something that was yet to be explained to them – while the second twin baby was delivered dead through caesarian session after 14 hours of failures and inaction on the part of the midwives, anaesthetists and doctors.

Whereabouts of corpse.

Sadly, the couple say they did not even get the opportunity to bury their twins as the bodies were sent to Korle Bu Hospital for autopsy and they never heard from Tema General Hospital nor the officials of the Ministry of Health, although they wrote directly or through their lawyers for answers.

Dr Kunbour’s probe.

The corpses of the babies were sent to Korle Bu as part of investigations instituted by the then Health Minister, Dr Benjamin Kunbour, when the couple petitioned him.

No feedback since 2010.

The couple, Mr and Mrs Amankwah Addo, said after losing their twins on November 4 2010, they are yet to receive answers to their questions, let alone some compensation.

According to Mr Addo, he drove his wife to Tema General Hospital on November 3, 2010, and the midwife who had been attending to his wife throughout the pregnancy confirmed that the twin were alive as of 1pm.

He explained that his wife, Mrs Adwoa Sarfoa Addo, was admitted by 2:30pm on the same day.

First baby born alive in five minutes.

He stated that “within five minutes of admission, the head of our first twin baby popped up” and the wife delivered the first twin baby by 3:00pm on a labour ward bed which she climbed herself whilst in labour and pain”.

According to him, the first baby was shown to the mother while the heartbeat of the second unborn twin was checked and confirmed to be alive.

5 Hours of no action.

Following the confirmation, he said Mrs Addo was left to lie down on the delivery bed for five good hours – from 3pm till 8pm on the same day, November 3, 2010 – before contraction started again.

Pressure cup inserted.

Mr Addo stated that at this point, a pressure cup was used in an attempt to bring out the second baby.

By 11pm, pressure cup found to have failed.

“By 11pm when the pressure cup had clearly failed, my wife is left alone again till 4am the next day (Nov 4, 2010).”

Baby and mother tortured for 14 hours.

“After the pressure cup failed to pull out our baby and both mother and baby had been tortured because this second baby was wrapped with umbilical cord, and pulling it caused my wife excruciating pain.

“In her words, sir, my wife said…’I was dead, my soul was tired and had suffered. I vomited and felt goose bumps. I knew then that I was not going to live anymore’”, he added.

Anaesthetist called at 11:30pm.

Mr Addo explained that when it was discovered that the pressure cup failed at 11pm, an anaesthetist was called on phone at 11:30pm on the Nov 3, 2010 and she asked for the hospital ambulance to come pick her up since it was late in the night and she lived outside the hospital and had no car.

Anaesthetist did not turn up.

He said when the anaesthetist did not show up after sometime, a midwife telephoned her again, and she said she was waiting in her home for the ambulance to come and pick her up but the vehicle never showed up.

No fuel in ambulance.

He noted that Mrs Addo, who was in pain, overheard one of the nurses saying the ambulance driver said there was no fuel in the ambulance.

Anaesthetist arrived at 4am the following day.

Mrs Addo endured pain from 11:30 on November 3, 2010 to 4am of November 4, 2010 when the anaesthetist arrived to prepare her. She was then sent to theatre and finally underwent the Caesarian session.

Dr Kunbuor petitioned.

“Upon our petitioning, the then Health Minister, Dr Kunbuor instituted an investigation.

“In a letter with Reference No MOH/GAD/9002,   we were informed of this investigation, in writing. Subsequently, we met some representatives of the Ministry of Health in December 2010.

“They bought us ‘Papayɛ’ fried rice and simply asked us to be hopeful for other babies.

“We nonetheless presented our case and insisted on the investigation to know the cause of death; the manner of harm that was negligently done our babies at birth; which harm resulted in their death and the time of their death.

“We further reminded the Health Ministry’s reps that we would also like to privately pay for a pathology test when they are done with the bodies of our babies/their investigation.

“We, however, never heard of the results if the investigation was done at all. On 30th May, 2011, we caused our lawyers (Akufo Addo Prempeh & Co) to write to the Ministry of Health/Ghana Health Service (GHS) to obtain results of the investigation,” he added.

Source The Finder

Breastfeeding in public should be seen as normal – Doctor

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Deputy Director of Reproductive Child Health of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, wants breastfeeding of babies in public to be regarded as normal in the country.

She condemned the unwarranted public discrimination against breastfeeding women in public and has advised women be allowed to breastfeed freely without any discrimination.

She said: “Mothers breastfeeding their babies in the public is not a crime or taboo, but we are making it is so in this country and this is making breastfeeding mothers restrain their hungry babies from sucking in public.

“Where they do it too, they do it under restricted environments which make the proper breastfeeding bonding between mother and child not being met aptly,” Dr Sagoe-Moses said in Accra at the 2017 National World Breastfeeding Week event held on Wednesday.

She said from six months to two years, breast milk was essential for the growth of every child as it protected them against Diabetes, Stroke, Hypertension and other ailments based on the nutritional components in the breast milk.

To this end, Dr Sagoe-Moses has urged stakeholders especially the media to talk about programmes that promote early antenatal amongst pregnant women.

Besides, health talks at the various antenatal schools should discuss breastfeeding and delivery topics.

“I also call for essential policies and legislation that protects women’s right to breastfeed and work,” she said.

Dr Sagoe-Moses also advised mothers not to prescribe medications for themselves to stop their breast from producing milk when babies are off age and want to stop breastfeeding, but instead be in firm braziers, take paracetamol to control pains and not express the breast, adding that, “most importantly, if there are problems, visit the health centre for the doctors’ assistance,” she advised.

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), which is on the theme: “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together” seeks to inform, anchor, engage and galvanise through advocacy and awareness creation on breastfeeding as an essential child survival intervention.

The WBW, which was instituted in 1993 and since then had seen Ghana joining the celebration every year would be formally launched in the country on August 18, at Takoradi.

There are four thematic areas to be observed during the WBW, they include nutrition, food security, and poverty reduction, survival, health and wellbeing, environment and climate change as well as women’s productivity and employment.

In her presentation, Mrs Eunice Sackey, the Programme Manager of Breastfeeding at the GHS, indicated that from 2008, 2010 to 2014, statistics from Ghana Demographic and Health Service on Ghana’s breastfeeding rate ranged from 62.7 per cent, 46.7 per cent and 52 per cent respectively.

She said in years past Ghana was ranked lowest at two per cent in the sub-regions.

She said to achieve better results in the subsequent years, it was time breastfeeding and work was understood as a matter of rights and gender equality in the country instead of living millions of women unprotected in that area.

“International Labour Organisation’s Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (no.183) calls for actions and laws in each country to improve maternity protection.

“Breastfeeding is part of reproductive cycle and women should be able to combine it with paid work without discrimination or disadvantage,” she said.

Mrs Sackey called for the dissemination of key messages on breastfeeding to care givers and the public in order to ensure healthy and stronger infants growth.

She noted that stakeholders would create an online platform that would enable breastfeeding advocates work with others towards the achieving of long term goals as well as defining their works in the contest of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Programme Manager of Breastfeeding at the GHS, advised nursing mothers to start breastfeeding within 30 minutes after birth as early breastfeeding helps the baby learn to breast feed while the breast is still soft and also helps to reduce bleeding.

She called on the fathers and other family members to collectively play their part to ensure exclusive breastfeeding of their children.

Source GNA

Mother and Baby Unit at KATH takes shape

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A team from the First Lady’s Office and Multimedia Group has toured construction site for the new Mother and Baby Unit for Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.

Spearheaded by First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the team went to assess the extent of work since sod was cut in May 2017 for the construction.

The tour, conducted by Engineer Stephan Coret of Africa Building Partners, contractors for the Mother and Baby Unit facility, took the team round the site.

They were shown the extent of work.

Work on the 1500 square meter Mother and Baby Unit at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital is fast progressing with the physical structure now nearing lintel stage.

According to the Site Engineer Stephan Coret, his team is working tirelessly to ensure the facility is completed and commissioned on schedule.

Managing Director of Multi TV Santokh Singh, who led the Multimedia team, expressed his excitement at the extent of work done considering the tight schedule the contractor is working with.

Mr. Kwaku Kwakye, who led the team from the First Lady’s office, also expressed the First Lady’s gratitude to all those who have contributed and supported the project in various ways to ensure its steady progress.


Fight to eliminate malaria from Ghana by 2030 intensified

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The fight against malaria has intensified as the Ghana Malaria Foundation has joined in the fight to help Ghana meet its targets of eliminating malaria by 2030.

The Foundation has set a five-year target to raise $510 million to support malaria programmes.

The malaria foundation would target international foundations, private and public sector partners and the general public to raise the money to help in the fight.

The idea of a foundation to support malaria activities was based on recommendations by the National Malaria Control Programme and other stakeholders to find other critical avenues of raising funds.

The Foundation was launched on April 24, 2017 by the First Lady of Ghana, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, on World Malaria Day.

Ghana over years has relied heavily on international donors for funding malaria but due to its status as a middle income country, funding from donors has been dwindling.

There is, therefore, the need to find other means of generating sustainable funds internally.

To sustain the fight, the involvement of a corporate initiative is key, according to stakeholders.

The Ghana Malaria Foundation in this regard would solicit and manage resources to promote the prevention, control and elimination of the tropical disease and other health-related issues in the country.

Ghana’s malaria ambassador Kofi Amoabeng, who also doubles as chair of the Foundation, pointed out that the vision of the Foundation is to eliminate malaria by 2030.

“It’s very clear if we can do that by 2030 or before, we would have achieved our vision.”

He further added that the mission of the foundation is to among other things solicit and manage resources to promote the prevention and elimination of malaria and other related health issues in Ghana.

He, therefore, assured the board would be transparent in its dealings to ensure Ghana meets its targets.

“We would also be very transparent because when you collect monies from people and organizations, it comes that you owe them a responsibility,” he said

The Acting Programme Manager of the Programme, Dr. Keziah Malm, indicated that Ghana has chalked some successes in its fight against malaria so far, but there is more task ahead.

“We have been able to reduce the number of malaria deaths at health facilities,” he said.

“[In the] early part of the 2017, there have been 260 deaths recorded in health facilities, a very low figure compared to previous years’ where we recorded 1,500 within 6 months.”

Dr Malm, therefore, lauded the involvement of the Malaria Foundation in the country’s quest to meet its target by 2030.

“There is the need to scale up intervention research and look for easier and more impactful intervention for malaria control but this need resources. That is why the Foundation is important,” she added.

By Esi Benewaa Nyame|TV3||Ghana

Ghana making progress in malaria fight – Survey

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The 2016 Ghana Malaria Indicator Survey report has been launched in Accra.

The report shows Ghana is making progress in the fight against Malaria. However, a lot more needs to be done to achieve targets.

The report is the first stand-alone Malaria Indicator Survey conducted in Ghana on the Ghana demographic and health survey programme.

The report shows prevention practices is on the rise in the country, thus ownership of long-lasting insecticides-treated mosquito nets (LLIN) has doubled in the last eight years. Therefore, more than 7 in 10 households now own LLIN compared to 31 per cent in 2008 and 64 per cent in 2014.

The report revealed that among high-risk groups, half of pregnant women and 52 per cent of children Under Five cited used an LLIN the night before the survey.

This, it indicated, represents an increase from 39 per cent of pregnant women and 34 per cent children Under Five in 2014.

Indicators of the survey included Malaria prevention, use of treated and untreated mosquito nets, prevalence of malaria among children 6 to 9 months, among others.

The finding of the report indicated that the National Malaria prevalence among children 6 months to 59 months has decreased from 27 per cent to 21 per cent between the 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey and the 2016 Ghana Malaria Indicator Survey.

Again, Malaria prevalence among children varied throughout the administrative regions of Ghana: thus 5 per cent in Greater Accra, 30 per cent in Central Region and 31 per cent in the Eastern Region. This means children in the rural areas are more likely to be infected with malaria than urban children.

Acting Government Statistician Baah Wadieh indicated the report shows malaria prevention practices are on the rise.

He urged participants to study the report carefully and use the information to guide planning and intervention programmes associated with malaria.

“This is a call to action and it is our expectation that the result of the 2016 Ghana MIS will be utilized by government and the MOH/GHS to inform policies, priorities and programmes.”

Deputy Director General of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Gloria Kwansah Asare indicated that the GMIS  has come at an opportune time for the Ghana Health Service because the Service needed accurate and current data for their global fund malaria grant.

“The findings of this survey will be helpful in appreciating the progress or otherwise made in the fight against malaria.”

Acting Programme Manager of the National Malaria Control Programme Dr. Kezia Malm, who welcomed the key findings, urged stakeholders not to relent in their effort to end malaria for good.

“The enthusiasm and momentum exist for moving towards elimination. However, we in Ghana believe that such ambitious effort needs to be sustained for the duration of the control efforts require a substantial research.”

Representative from UNAIDS encouraged the country to use the report to make progress towards edging malaria for good.

The survey covered about 6,000 households.

Over 5,000 women between the ages of 15 to 49 were interviewed.

Three thousand and eighty children were tested for anaemia and malaria.

By Esi Benewaa Nyame|TV3||Ghana

[Video] Perinatal depression: The silent killer among women?

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Mother breastfeeding baby

Perinatal depression occurs around childbirth

Heard of perinatal depression before? Well, it’s a very common disorder amongst women yet very little is known about it.

Perinatal depression, like any other depression, is a mental health disorder that occurs in women during or around childbirth.

Every pregnant woman stands the risk of perinatal depression; some have suffered it in silence and others have suppressed it for fear of being misjudged. Why is that so? Very few women have knowledge about perinatal depression, the rest are either ill-informed or not informed at all.

In this documentary, TV3’s Wendy Laryea takes us on an enlightening exploration of Perinatal Depression: What she describes as “the silent killer”.

Watch her report below: