Feature Article of Tuesday, 4 October 2011
Columnist: Twumasi, Patrick
by the Daily Graphic on Wednesday, September 28, 2011, number, 18650, reported
by Mr. Kofi Yeboah with the headline; ‘Beware! Cedi notes carry bacteria’ is
news worthy, but has some Psychological consequences on the usage of the
Ghanaian currency and could turn many more citizens into washers.
The research which was
conducted by Mr. Patrick Feglo and Mr. Michael Nkansah of the Department of
Clinical Microbiology of the School of Medical Sciences and the Department of
Medical Laboratory Technology of the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences,
respectively, both of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
(KNUST), is also relevant and purposeful. The study was academic and was duly
published in the African Journal of Microbiology Research Vol. 4(22) pp.
2375-2380, November 18, 2010. The publication in the Daily Graphic with its
accompanying headline raises the eyebrow and for that reason needed
the fact that currency notes of Ghana are being mishandled cannot be debated
with the Researchers. Again, the unkempt nature in which sometimes the cedi
note comes to you might not appeal to a fellow to slot it into the pocket
wallet. Most often one has to clean it thoroughly before placing a change into
the pocket. Hence, the factual conclusion that the cedi notes carry bacteria.
Besides, the researchers have made statements concerning basic hygiene of hand
washing, which is apt. This brings to the fore the brewing of
obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as OCD.
Disorder (OCD) is part of the generalised anxiety group which has debilitating
effect that goes with rituals to reduce anxiety. It is time consuming, mental
wrecking, holds back flow of thought and brings in its wake flashes of mental
pictures and images. This disorder emanated from the popular novel titled
“Macbeth”. The lead character in the novel Macbeth was prevailed upon by the
wife to kill the king. After slaying the King, Macbeth was stained of blood,
this caused him to wash the hands.
Later on repeated flashes
of mental pictures and thoughts of the image, made Macbeth to resort to washing
the hands, with the thought, he was still having blood stains on him. This
scenario took a major part of his life which affected his normal routine. It is
a thought intruding disorder that has the capacity to arrest and affect a
person to perform certain ritual, sometimes embarrassing, but reliefs the
affected fellow of anxiety.
The reasons, for which the
publication needed Psychological advice, had to do with the object of the
research, the Ghanaian cedi note which is used far and wide by citizens each
day. Therefore, the fear of contracting tuberculosis, leprosy and possibly
buruli ulcer might first lead to phobia – a fear about something that does not
actually exist. Again, the cedi notes are the medium of transaction in Ghana.
Consequently, to present
the findings which state the dirt associated with it and plausibility of
contracting these communicable diseases would require a user to wash the hand
right after handling the cedi note, or risk infection. Then, how many times in
a day should a handler of the cedi note wash the hands? This comes with the
anxiety of forgetting to wash the hand any time a person gets in contact with
the Ghanaian currency.
Imaging a trader washing
the hand after each transaction? Should the said trader forget to wash the
hands, and puts food in the mouth, can the anxiety and stress level be measured?
The issue of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is anxiety and stress based,
with intrusion of thought of anxious situations. It tends to affect the normal
flow of life and work of the individual. OCD has led many a happy going life to
be interrupted. Some bizarre and shameful rituals are performed to relief
persons who suffer this unfortunate disorder. Many can recite Psalm 23
countless times in a day, as well as the Lord’s Prayer, to relief themselves of
anxiety. These are called, washers.
The publication is without
scintilla of doubt useful, but, it has the capacity to generate anxiety, and
washers who would or could be affected psychologically.
Now let me throw the
searchlight briefly on the potency of the research. According to the research
publication, the researchers collected cedi notes at random from ready-to-eat
food sellers on the KNUST campus. Additionally, 70 currency notes were
collected at random. The currency notes studied were 30 one-cedi notes and 10
of the 10-cedi notes as well. Therefore, the sample population for the study
was the ready-to-eat food sellers on the KNUST campus, and not the entire
Kumasi Metropolis. Hence, to generalise the research findings to the entire
population and loads of currency notes in circulation is unacceptable.
The sample size is too small;
therefore, the error margin is great. The potency of the research would have
been strong or high if it was generalised or related to the community or
communities within and around the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
(KNUST) campus respectively. But to be extended to the entire country weakens
the strength of the research. Knowing that, the larger the sample size the
smaller the error margin and vice versa.
The researchers have
brought to the fore a very relevant aspect of our daily life under the auspices
of the Daily Graphic, a pat on their shoulders. The situation where studies of
this nature are related to the larger population, instead of the community or
communities among whom it is conducted, brings a lot of concern. The KNUST
community research findings cannot be attributed to even the entire Kumasi
Metropolis, not to consider the Ashanti Region, more so Ghana. Suffice, let’s
take a cue from the work and inculcate the culture of hand washing.
The Daily Graphic should
also seek psychologically advice on stories of this nature; in order not to generate
anxiety among the populace. Anyway, thank you for the education, which is one
of your roles.