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Opinions of Friday, 29 December 2017

Columnist: Dr. Edward Kwame Poku

Letter to Mr. Kweku Baako

Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr, Editor-In-Chief for Crusading Guide Newspaper Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr, Editor-In-Chief for Crusading Guide Newspaper

Dear Mr. Kweku Baako,

It is definitely unusual for a letter that is meant for the President to be first of all addressed to you for further publication through your newspaper.

It has become a common knowledge to the public that our dear President has recently become - for some reason or the other - unapproachable unless one is prepared to pay extra sums of money in order to be near him.

The honeymoon with President Akufo-Addo is, as far as I'm concerned, over. He must be scrutinised carefully to find out whether his words correspond to his deeds.

On the 25th September 2017 I sent a letter to the President congratulating him for his election-success. Together with this letter in a packet, was an important information regarding immunisation schedule and notification of infectious diseases in Ghana.

This, I thought, was necessary since in Ghana my impression is that this problem has not been taken seriously enough.

The whole issue about childhood-immunisation, adult immunisation and notifiable diseases is taken seriously in the UK and other European countries.

I informed our President, that there was a need for reform of our constitution and reform of almost all our institutions including the healthcare system. So what I did was, I sent him an immunisation programme or schedule from the company Glaxo Smith Kline. This contained detailed immunisation-programmes from infants up to adults. It covered immunisation from Meningococci B, Tetanus, Diphtheria and, most importantly, Influenza A and B.

If the President had taken action on this information I gave him, the eleven children who died in Kumasi could have been saved.

On the 15th December 2017 the former General Secretary of PNC, Atik Mohammed, said in a newspaper article that the government should have declared a state of emergency and he criticised the seemingly slow response to solving the outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis and H1N1-virus across the country.

I do congratulate Mr. Mohammed for his timely criticism. I entreat you therefore, dear Mr. Baako, to help investigate, where the parcel I sent to the President is (in the Flagstaffhouse).

DHL informs me that the parcel was handed over to one Ms. Theresa Bekoa. Until now there has been no response, despite intervention by the CID.

Childhood immunisations in the UK for instance are undertaken routinely in the GP-surgery. Practices are paid for providing this service, based on meeting targets for the proportion of eligible children on the list immunised. If more than 90% are immunised a higher rate is payable. And if only more than 70 % are immunised a lower rate is payable. But in Ghana the healthcare system is primitive. I did not only criticise the healthcare system in my letter to the President, but also gave examples on how it can be modernised.

I wrote to the President on restructuring the healthcare system.

1. National Health Insurance System in Ghana should be abolished. Free medical care should be introduced for all.

2. Creation of medical centres for diagnostic purposes could be privately owned.

3. Immunisation.

In all I wrote extensively about how the healthcare system in Ghana should look.

One is going to ask me, where is the government going to find the resources for free medical healthcare system in Ghana. The answer is very simple.

1. The government should not in any way subsidise the purchase of expensive vehicles.

2. Entitlement for civil servants should be abolished.

3. Why should the President of a developing country ride in one of the most expensive cars, e.g. Rolls Royce or the most expensive Mercedes Benz and Toyota?

4. Why should the administration have an expensive fleet of cars?

5. Why should an ex-president be given a residence?

6. Why should ex-judges continue to stay in government bungalows?

7. Why do we indulge in expensive transfers of civil servants, with new accommodation by the government?

8. Why should a Vice-President's residence cost 14 Million Dollars?

9. Why should police-officers be given accommodation?

In all I suggested to the President to reform. The constitution has to be reformed and with the reform of the constitution the institutions of the country will automatically be reformed.

After almost 60 years in existence there is not one single legacy of a previous government that we can be proud of, apart from Kwame Nkrumah.

Constitution Reform

The ethnic differences in our society must be accepted as a reality and all our actions should not ignore this fact.

One Prof. Fiadjoe once while advising Pres. Mills on Constitution Review said or wrote about “strengthening national culture”. This I find to be an unrealistic statement because Ghana has no “National Culture”, what we have are multiple, diverse ethnic cultures and traditions, which cannot be described as a National Culture.

I expect your new administration to strengthen the institutions and structures in the regions into full blown regional governments, each managing its own affairs.

I am hereby thinking of a devolution with each newly acquired Region having its own Parliament, Prime Minister and administering its own affairs. Security, health and other governmental affairs, just like in the UK.

I therefore suggest, Mr. President, that after your 4-year-period, there should be a 2-year transition period for preparing a reformed constitution. This means, you'll have in all 6 years, two years of which should be reserved for shaping a constitution which will lead to a full blown devolution.

There should be truly regional governments in all the newly created Regions, among which Ashanti must have its old status of a combined Ashanti and Ahafo as an entity, Brong retains its original Status, thereby doing away with the from Kwame Nkrumah artificially created Brong-Ahafo.

The idea of this reform is to make sure, that the various newly created regional governments compete with each other and through being self-reliant improve efficiency amongst themselves.

“Under the current 1992 constitutional arrangement, Art. 242, the District Assembly (non-partisan in nature) is the highest political authority in the district and consists of the following:

a. One person elected by universal adult suffrage from each electoral area.

b. The member or members of parliament from constituents that fall within the area of authority of the District Assembly (no voting power).

c. The District Chief Executive of the district appointed by the President with executive powers (abuse of power!) and with previous approval of not less than 2/3 majority of the members of the assembly present voting at the meeting.

d. Other members not being more than 30% of all the members of the District Assembly, appointed by the president in consultation with the traditional authorities and other interested parties in the district.”

On the 1st December 2017 Prof. Kwesi Prempeh called for a constitutional review to limit president’s powers. The law professor, Prof. Kwesi Prempeh did call for a review of the 1992 constitution as it gives enormous power to the president without limitations.

Speaking at a high level panel discussion on the ongoing constitutional review exercise to examine the theoretical justifications for the review, progress and the regress, Prof. Prempeh said, Ghana’s 1992 constitution has become highly permissive, making it easier for politicians to take over, therefore, manipulating policies to their benefit.

Lately we have sadly observed horrible abuse of power by President John Dramani Mahama and his dealings with a Middle-Eastern company by name of AMERI.

The publication or general news of Tuesday, 14th Nov. 2017, published by Daily Guide alleged that the Norwegian newspaper that is tailing former President John Dramani Mahama over his supposed links with Africa Middle East Resources Investment Group LLC (AMERI) has indicated that the African Development Bank (AfDB) did not send President Mahama to Namibia, as claimed by him.

According to the award winning newspaper called VG Mr. Mahama had visited Namibian President Hage Geingob in Windhoek and falsely presented himself as an AfDB advocate for African energy self-sufficiency, but its investigation turned out that the continental bank does not have any hand in former president’s visit where he took AMERI to the Southern African country.

If this information is or should be correct,then I suppose the people of Ghana would be extremely grateful if Mr. Mahama would be stripped of his immunity and dealt with according to the law. What I would like to know is this: whether Ex-President Mahama considers himself an African or an Arab. And I would like to pose this question to most Ghanaians with Islamic faith. There seems to be ambiguity here. Are they Muslims, Africans, Islamist or what are they ? I consider every Ghanaian to be an African first and their religion second. Their loyalty therefore should be to Africa, that is why the group of Muslims who had a group photograph at the Flagstaffhouse should be warned not to repeat that mistake again. Their action was a foolish action because we do not expect any group of people to mix up religion with politics and governance.

It would have been a sign of solidarity if these Ghanaian Muslims had expressed their solidarity with the Africans who were humiliated in Libya be being sold as slaves. This is shocking.

At the same time I have to criticise President Akufo-Addo here, because in the said packet I sent our President a copy of a picture depicting Africans put into cages with Libyan green flags apparently depicting Africans as animals eating leafs. This was a shocking sight ! Whether because of this picture the letter to the President was stolen, I don't know. Maltreatment of Africans by Arabs is not a secret. I expect therefore our President to break relations with all Arab countries until they show remorse and apologise for ill-treatment of our race. Any African who does not acknowledge the humiliation inflicted on our race is a fool.

Another typical example of the abuse of the rights of the people is a statement made by President Akufo when on his visit to the Upper Region of Ghana he made the following pronouncement:

“The state resources will be equally distributed based on 1992 constitution.”

That means that irrespective of the productivity of the various Regions or the willingness of the people of the various Regions to work hard, he is going to stick to the constitution of 1992 and distribute the resources equally among the various regions. This is unacceptable to Ashantis. That means the Ashanti portion shall be in turn shared among the migrants from the north who have up to now occupied three quarters of the Ashanti capital and other ethnic groups in Ashanti with Ashantis. While relatively equal amount of the resources will still be going to those regions whose citizens have flocked into the Ashanti capital. Mathematically those migrants in Kumasi, namely the Fantis, the Ewes, the Northerners are going to share the resources meant for the Ashantis with the Ashantis. I would like to know from the President what portion of the distributed resource will be there for Ashantis and Ashantis alone.

Does the President now see the fallacy of the 1992 constitution?

We, the People of Ashanti, do solemnly plea with the President of the Republic of Ghana, President Akufo-Addo, to reform the Ghana Constitution and replace it with one which reflects the true needs and aspiration of the Ashanti People since we have been cheated over a long period of sixty years. We plead for fairness and justice. Enough is enough, the Northerners should vote in their own homes in the north and the uncontrolled migration to the south, mainly to Kumasi, should be stopped.

Further examples of abuse due to the weakness in our constitution

About two weeks ago the Minister responsible for Zongo-Affairs has allegedly made comments, which as far as I am concerned are sickening. This gentleman is supposed to have said that Muslim women do not like to be examined by male doctors and that he suggested that the Government of Ghana should train female doctors whose duty will be solely treating Muslim women in Ghana.

In the first place, Ghana has no “Muslim women”. Secondly, in Ghana apart from foreigners, there are only Ghanaian women, who happen to be people of Islamic faith. Just as we have Ghanaians with Christian faith. This way of thinking by this Minister underlines what these so-called Muslim women and Muslim men feel about their role in the Ghanaian society.

They want everything but their contribution is zero. And their demands are totally unrealistic.

Another example:

Police shoots two armed robbers in self-defence in Kumasi and immediately the police in Ashanti Region is threatened with a law-suit by one Mr. Muntaka, minority leader in parliament. In the first place, by his looks, I suspect that this Mr. Muntaka is not a Ghanaian, but could be a Nigerian. If not, I apologize. But he must demonstrate that his parents are Ghanaians by birth and they should present their birth certificates to prove that they are Ghanaians.

I expect this Mr. Muntaka to respect the Ghanaian constitution and that it is the Ashanti regional Minister who is responsible for Ashanti affairs and not him. He is only an MP and not a spokesperson for Ashanti affairs. For this reason and many other such interferences we plead with the government to come clean with a new constitution which places the Ashantis in their rightful place. We do not expect and want Northerners to plead for us. Failure to clarify this position could plunge the nation into a deadly civil war.

Ashanti is and will always be a sovereign nation within the newly or recently formed union of states of Ghana. No-one should usurp our rights and this constitution is doing just that. Enough is enough.

Influenza Virus

I have noticed in the various writings on that there is confusion about what this influenza virus is.

Human infections are caused by influenza A, B or C viruses. Wild birds are the natural host for influenza A and the virus infects humans, birds, pigs and other animals. Influenza A and B can cause severe disease and occur in epidemics. Influenza A can also be responsible for pandemics. Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes on the basis of the two main surface glycoproteins hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA).

There are 16 known HA and nine known NA-subtypes of influenza A.

Clinical Manifestation

The classic influenza-symptoms in healthy adults include abrupt fever, myalgia (muscle pains), headaches and upper respiratory symptoms. Please note that in the elderly or immune-compromised hosts these classic symptoms might be absent and patients might only present with fever and altered mental status.

So in a country where we have malaria-infections one has to be very careful to differentiate between such virus infections and acute malaria-infection. One should however note that influenza without radiographic evidence of pneumonia is up to 30% of hospitalised patients. I shall stop here and talk more about the diagnosis.


Several tests can be performed to diagnose influenza:

Naso-pharyngeal swaps, nasal washes and aspirates obtained within the first four days of illness are preferred respiratory samples for examination.

Rapid influenza test can provide results within thirty minutes. And some distinguish between influenza A and B. The overall sensitivity is 70 – 75 % with a specificity of 90 – 95 %. These tests are useful in the diagnosis of individual patients and detecting outbreaks.

Direct Immuno-fluorescent Antibody (DFA) staining requires two to four hours for results.

RT-PCR detects and distinguished both, influenza A and B in one to two days.
Viral culture might take up to ten days. The culture is essential for determining influenza subtypes and influenza A or B strains, information that can be incorporated into the following years' vaccine.


Two classes of antiviral drugs are available for the prevention and treatment of influenza infections.

1. Amantadin and Rimantadin target the N2-Protein of influenza A and are not effective against other influenza-viruses. Both are generally well tolerated, but central nervous system side effects are more common in the elderly. Dosing modification is based on renal function, that means, before administration of that drug, renal function test must be obtained.

2. Zanamivir and Oseltamivir , they are modern Neuraminidase-inhibitors, that are active for prevention and therapy against both, influenza A and B. Please note for the public, these two drugs work best if initiated within 48 hours of first clinical symptoms. All antiviral medications lessen symptoms and shorten the duration of illness; only Oseltamivir has been shown to reduce lower respiratory tract complications requiring antibiotics (pneumonia). Patients with Asthma or COPD are advised to have a fast acting inhale bronchodilator available when inhaling Zanamivir. Please note for the public, Zanamivir should be stopped if patients develop difficulty breathing.


Yearly vaccination is the best means to prevent influenza. Vaccination is particularly important in people who are at high risk of having serious complications such as those 65 years of age or older and those with cardiac or pulmonary diseases, diabetes or other metabolic diseases, renal dysfunction, hemoglobinopathies (sickle-cell-disease) or immune-suppression or people like physicians and nurses caring for those at high risk for serious complications. During influenza-outbreaks within an institution or community, public health practice is to combine influenza-vaccine and antiviral medication. The vaccine is given to the exposed patients and staff and the antiviral agent is also given for about two weeks until the vaccine takes effect.

With the help of my son Reginald I have compiled this important information for the people of Ghana to prevent further unnecessary deaths due to foolish negligence of the government in power. I have given detailed account about the nature of influenza A infection, its detection, prevention and treatment. I hope that as a Ghanaian I have done my duty.

I entreat all Ghanaians to insist that the government institute reforms in all aspects of its governance.