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Opinions of Thursday, 21 September 2006

Columnist: Kwaning, Martin

Is Ghana Sitting On A Time Bomb?

A supporter for Professor Frempong Boateng recently said that Ghana is sick and needs a physician such as Professor Boateng to heal the country, I do not entirely agreed with his submission but his argument makes sense.

Frankly Ghana is sick and Major Courage Quashigah’s (Minister Of Health) comment, that he is worried about the rate of sickness in the country, some preventable though he alluded, at Adaklu Ahunda-Baso recently deserved a critical examination.

The rate of illness in the country is alarming and urgent steps need to be taken to arrest this situttion. The Government over the past few years has made tremendous effort in the health sector but a holistic approach is needed now.

It has increasingly beat my imagination how some Ghanaians have buried basic hygiene principles. Both our informal and formal education has imbued in us the need to be knowledgeable, but you will be dismayed how some Ghanaians in their desperation to have their chronic illness healed patronise all kinds of drugs or medicine being sold in Buses, Lorry stations and small kiosk when the authorities have not certificated these drugs. It is a very frightening situation most especially when these medicines apart from the poisonous substances mixed with them, are ill packaged and frankly hazardous for human consumption. The apparent reason for purchasing these drugs- to heal their illness -sadly either worsen the illness or open their immune system to all kinds of diseases. No one should misconstrued my stand as kicking against herbal medicine, far from that, for me, I have repeatedly said that Ghana can do well by depending more on herbal medicine, for both the Bible and Koran testify to the efficacy of herbal medicine and Ghana could save millions of cedis if the authorities greatly have interest in investing in herbal medicine. My worry is the uncertified herbal medicine and other drugs that are being sold by greedy individuals.

Another area of concern is the way and manner some Ghanaians dispose of rubbish (refuse). Mr Kwaku deGraft-Johnson a Senior Scientist at the Water Research Institute recently told IRIN that Ghana is sitting on a time bomb, according to him the amount of sewage that has been dumped in the ocean untreated and the fishermen pull their catch and sell them, is putting the health of the general public at risk.

There was, a few years ago when we have the Town Council Officials (traditionally called Tankas) going from houses to houses inspecting hygienic surroundings. Today either they are non-existence or they themselves have been corrupted by residents thereby neglecting their job of ensuring good environment.

Many people have expressed some misgivings about the District Assembly Concept as it is operated now, seriously, majority of the members are just there to either vote for or vote against the President’s nomination of a DCE, for if they were doing their work well, as representatives of the people in an electoral or zonal area, they could have spotted unhygienic surroundings and report the matter to the DCE for a speedy solution. Bushy areas have been left to be infected with mosquitoes, gutters have been choked by the unpatriotic attitude of dumping refuse in them and when there are floods and their homes are submerged, they turned round to blame government. Walk through a few areas in the country and you will be alarmed how human faeces and unwanted substances have been allowed to fly all over, and eventually uncovered meals suffer. Worryingly you go to some market places and observe food being sold near such unhygienic places and the authorities unwisely dispatch their officers to go out and sell tickets to traders. I dare not show any disrespect to our DCEs but some are only interested in inspecting government projects and never for a moment soberly reflecting on how to have a Green Environment or spearheading the transformation of the people in their locality. It is a healthy people that build a sound nation-perhaps Hon Asamoah Boateng’s dynamism can change some of them so that they will be more abreast with modern way of governing a local area.

Some Chemists and Food venders have continued to sell expired products to the general public. These unscrupulous individual after tempering with dates on products-harming the health of innocent Ghanaians and usually caused their death-will throng to church or other religious gathering supposedly to worship their Creator.

Another area Major Quashigah will do well to address is the unnecessary hours patience spend to see a Doctor, it is allege that some few Doctors do their own private work thereby arriving late to duty. There is no denying the fact that patience illness is either worsen or likely to die from unnecessary waiting to see a Doctor.

The government has and continue to invest heavily in the health sector and collectively we can do our part to prevent a national health disaster.

Parents should be encouraged to immunize their children and educate them on basic hygine. The Food and Drugs Board should intensify their monitoring agenda without fear or favour, and if possible employ some Tertiary students while on vacation to assist them in their monitoring exercise.

People who knowingly sell unhealthy food or drugs to the public are as guilty as murderers and the law should deal with them ruthlessly. We equally need a vocal Consumer Association that will be robust in championing the concern of consumers.

The health situation in some towns in the country is what I think the so-called Concern Citizens should be concern about rather the demonstrating against an increased in petroleum products. Groups such as GNAT, NAGRAT, NUGS, TUC etc should frequently air their concern on sanitation, than their “One Way Traffic” strikes on their own welfare and salaries increments, important though.

The unfortunate situation whereby some DCEs do not know their District Health Directors should be resolved so that DCEs will be up-dated or briefed frequently on the health situation in his/her District .In fact there should be coordination among all those who matter in the health issue in the District.

My heart bleeds that as a Nation we have allowed our negligence of duty to cause the death of a fellow Ghanaian. We cannot continue to lose our precious human resources through preventable diseases. We have the ability to be our neighbour’s keeper and we should join hands with whichever Government in power to build a healthy Nation. The bad attitude whereby individuals who tried to do the right thing in our Community are branded with all kinds of name should give way to obeying the rules of the land.

It is shameful that as a Nation we glamour for development but when patriotic government officials and individuals tried to lay the pillars of development we ignite the “Pull- Him-Down syndrome.”

God/Allah bless Ghana.

MARTIN KWANING
MITCHAM, SURREY
LONDON .UK


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