Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Need to pay attention to primary Healthcare by Kingsley Obeng-Kyereh

Health is wealth. This is one statement that is often repeated when there is the need to stress why it is important to maintain the highest standard of well-being. For some people, this statement is often taken for granted not by openly saying health is not important but due to the action taken in relation to what should be done to maintain perfect health status. It will be recalled that in the latter part of the last millennium, there was a slogan – HEALTH FOR ALL BY THE YEAR 2000. Unfortunately, the year 2000 came too soon and that goal was not realised. It must be stated that the mere fact that that declaration was made showed the need to radically move from the status quo. To a large extent, it gave the global community some sense of urgency to improve the deteriorating health status of the population of many developing countries.

Ghana had had what was called the Danfa project to address this concern. Essentially, the medical model of health has informed many decisions in the health sector. Preventive Health care became relevant so that health centres will not be choked. Health Professionals did not need to wait to treat signs and symptoms but move to the communities to address the root cause of ailments. For example, instead of waiting to treat diarrhoea and cholera, it was necessary to tackle sanitation issues. Thus improving the environment was seen as an essential part of ensuring healthy lives. In addition improved water treatment, vector control and simple ways of hand washing go a long way to help the cause of primary healthcare. These informed the World Health Organisation's definition of health as a complete physical, mental and social well-being and not just the absence of disease.

In 1978, the International Conference on Primary Health Care at Alma Ata in the then Kazakhstan defined primary Healthcare as “essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the communities through their full participation and at a cost that the community and country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination.” Long after the Alma Ata declaration looked at Primary Health Care, there is the need to assess the progress made so far globally. The Millennium summit brought in the Millennium Development Goals which devoted much attention to health issues. The MDGs were replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and yet the world continues to talk about a myriad of challenges in the health sector.

It is good to once again say that realizing the goals in the SDGs will mean staying healthy. Any economic or social development can be eroded if the people are not healthy. The issues of Primary Health Care are important in this regard. The Universal Access to health care campaign should not be seen as a mere slogan. It is at the very base of development and deserves more investment. It is good to note that the President’s nominee for the health ministry has mentioned issues relating to health insurance. Therefore primary Health Care should be given the necessary attention, so that the health bills reduce. Once we have agreed that health is not the sole responsibility of the health ministry but a cross-cutting issue between different ministries with community collaboration, it is time to get all shoulders to the wheel.

The appeal is for the media not to skew attention to only the political issues that titillate but to devote attention to the issues that affect the total well-being of Ghanaians.


Monday, 23 January 2017

The Gambia Situation By Napoleon Ato Kittoe

Recent happenings in The Gambia are intriguing. Blotted by the 1994 coup by the beleaguered President Yahya Jammeh, the country had enjoyed relative peace. It is not clear whether the tranquil in the Gambia was as result of authoritarian rule but it had been very impressive until the recent political stalemate. The Gambia is threatened to go the way of some countries where similar situations had sparked civil wars and social disorganization. The world, including the diehard cynics, applauded President Yahya Jammeh for his swift response, initially conceding defeat to Adama Barrow in the last December Presidential election. As all waited with baited breathe to see a smooth transition, President Jammeh made a U-turn and refused to abide by the election results, alleging fraud. Following the sharp twist in events, the Gambia has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Issues like Jammeh being the only surviving coup-maker still in power, his tainted human-rights record and his idiosyncratic nature, as some would call it, have all thrust to the fore.

But Yahya Jammeh has raised some issues too. He says he realised later that certain improprieties affected the election results, requiring the judiciary to settle the dispute. The Gambia itself has not got a standing supreme court and so as invites are extended to some countries to appoint judges, to hear the matter, the supposed winner of the elections Adama Barrow, was sworn-in January 19 in neighbouring Senegal.

Meanwhile, the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, has mobilised a military force, which the world is made to understand that the force is on the verge of intervening in the Gambia, which lacks the muscle to contend on that front. It is interesting, Yahya Jammeh had been given up until 12noon January 20, to step down or be forced out. At this point, the stand-off becomes murkier as matters are coming to a head and the ignominious prospect of bloodshed seemingly likely. Yahya Jammeh, we are told is undergoing the diplomatic brush, with regional leaders talking to him to stand down. Situations like what The Gambia is going through have happened before and so the permutations are not far- fetched. It could either end in the arrest of Yahya Jammeh, possibly to be handed over to the International Criminal Court (I.C.C) for prosecution. Since nearly half of the voting population voted for Yahya Jammeh, it is not out of place to assume the nation is split down the middle and that, not all the Gambian people support the international maneuvering against their country. Another flash point which could lead to war, now or later.

The third scenario reminds one of Gaddafi's Libya where fellow leaders tried to talk him out of the conflict brought about by the Arab spring, which Gaddafi refused. In the end, he died in the bloodbath. With the United Nations Security Council, weighing strongly into the Gambian affair, one may like to know whether its position is informed by dynamics such as a call to war by the Gambian people, pre-emptive measures against a threat to war or an international law that overrides the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs and sovereignty of member states? Within the gamut of events in the Gambia today, at this point, one would choose dialogue as the only way to avoid a blood-spill while a country of political asylum for the ousted leader is arranged. The audacious move by ECOWAS to try to ensure democracy takes hold in a member state is commendable. One would expect the regional block to exert pressure on even scale when similar issues that involve the regional power brokers, erupt.

The Gambian situation and the recent war in Côte d’Ivoire are hypothetical, yet in the case of Côte d’Ivoire, when former President Gbagbo refused to relinquish power after he lost an election, ECOWAS failed to act.


Friday, 20 January 2017

The Ghanaian Media In The New Administration Of President Akufo-Addo By Kofi Yeboah

A new dawn has broken. The celebrations are over. It is time for real business. And President Akufo-Addo is off the blocks with the naming of his Cabinet to govern the country for the next four years. As the new administration seeks to fulfill its mandate to Ghanaians, the media must also stand in readiness to fulfill their watchdog mandate to the citizenry. So, this is the time to get the cameras rolling, microphones set, and printers in motion to monitor the government every step of the way. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana, specifically Article 162(5), mandates the mass media to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people of Ghana. This is an absolute constitutional mandate the media must never abdicate. As a former Chief Justice, F. K. Apaloo, said in a Keynote Address at the Annual New Year School in 1999, there is, indeed, no modern institution that is more potent in keeping the government in check and exposing its wrongdoing and other acts of misgovernance than the media.

Upholding the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people means two things – first, exposing the evil deeds of government, and second, projecting the good deeds of same. However, extolling the good deeds of the government does not call for ‘prophetic sycophancy’ whereby the media shower praises on the government when none is due; neither does it call for ‘demonic mischief’ whereby the media criticize the government for no just cause. Indeed, upholding the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people, calls for absolute fairness and objectivity. In their quest to support the Akufo-Addo administration to succeed, the media must not necessarily become bedfellows to caress the government because that will break their fidelity to the people of Ghana in whose interest they work. Likewise, in their resolve to scrutinize government business, the media must not necessarily become bed bugs to suck the government because that will stifle their nourishment of the people.

Another critical role the media must play under the Akufo-Addo administration is to deepen democratic governance by encouraging the expression of free speech, divergent views and dissenting opinions as guaranteed under Articles 21(1)(a) and 163 of the 1992 Constitution. But in so doing, the media must be responsible enough not to allow their platforms to be used for destructive purposes, especially by political opponents.

They must also not constitute themselves into regime defenders or regime changers, as the case may be. It is very heartwarming that the liberalization of the media landscape in Ghana has led to pluralism in the industry. But it is also heart-wrecking to observe the development of unbridled politicization and polarization of the media landscape. So media pluralism has, unfortunately, come to hurt, rather than help, the cause of national unity and development. It is time for this kind of ‘mercenary journalism’ to give way to professional journalism.

Again, in discharging their mandate as watchdogs of society and development agents, the media must endeavour to uphold high journalistic standards at all times. This is a professional imperative that can never be negotiated for any consideration whatsoever. So in the desire of media institutions to be on top of the competition, they must not sacrifice substance for hogwash, or accuracy for speed, or quality for mediocrity. Breaking the news first is not as important as getting it right. And need anyone be told that in the media industry, credibility is more valuable than profitability? The clarion call, therefore, is for the media to be prim and proper in the discharge of their watchdog mandate, as they uphold the responsibility and accountability of Akufo-Addo’s administration to the people of Ghana.

This is a charge to keep the media have!


Thursday, 19 January 2017


It said that those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat the mistakes of the past. The December 2016 election has come and gone, with the successful inauguration of Nana Akufo-Addo as the Fifth President of the Fourth Republic. While this success story has received the commendation of the international community, the activities of some people going round seizing State facilities and even brutalising political opponent is denting Ghana's enviable democratic credentials. In spite of the fact that this lawlessness by party activists occurred in the past and was condemned, its recurrence anytime there is a change in political power democratically requires collective national effort to nip it in the bud. Allowing people to assume they have the power to storm State-owned institutions like the Tema Port and the Passport Office suggest lawlessness to the highest degree. The danger in this phenomenon is the apparent helplessness of the Police Service who are mandated to ensure law and order, especially protecting lives and property.

It is true the police have issued stern warning that they will deal ruthlessly with anyone caught on the wrong side of the law. But to some skeptics, the inability of the police to act decisively and promptly in such cases could be due to the fear of the hierarchy of the service to fall victim to the political leadership of the party in power. They wouldn't want to go against the supporters who voted the politicians to power, therefore, staying off the heat. Though this may sound as allegation against the Police, it looks like the most probable reason or explanation for their seemingly lackadaisical attitude towards this life- threatening behaviour of party foot soldiers. When the politicians promise the youth and errand boys jobs and other privileges, they forget to educate them on how such promises will be delivered. They secretly give the assurance to secure jobs for them in some sensitive State institutions, thereby encouraging such acts of impunity.

As a people, Ghanaians should acknowledge the fact that, there is no need for any excuse in this matter. What civilised citizens want is that, this recurrent transitional ritual of lawlessness by party foot soldiers must stop, before it becomes a major blot on Ghana's democratic practice. The steps to ending it start with no other than politicians, particularly the ruling party. For our democracy to thrive, there should be awareness creation for supporters of the political Parties to know that transition from one Party to another does not call for lawlessness; neither does it mean everything belonging to the state becomes party property. The laws do not cease to work after transition. With more than two decades of constitutional rule, the action and inaction of the political leaders must not be seen to be encouraging such disgraceful behaviour of criminals who operate under the cloak of partisanship to perpetrate violence.

Let us cherish the national peace and work together to entrench democratic governance where the rule of law is supreme.


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Adopting Innovative Strategies To Build A Prosperous Nation By Kofi Amponsah-Bediako

The Ministerial nominations made so far are aimed at ensuring an effective governance system for the country. In all, the President has put forward 36 nominations for vetting by Parliament. The nominations were made in line with the vision of the President to take immediate steps to facilitate rapid socio-economic development of the country in the short to medium term. It is the desire of the President to build an optimistic, self-confident and prosperous nation with a strong and thriving democratic society in which mutual trust and economic opportunities exist for all, irrespective of their background. To be able to achieve this, there is the need to ensure effective implementation of policies geared towards speedy growth in all sectors of the economy. In this connection, the focus must be on agriculture, energy, manufacturing, health, education and eradication of poor conditions and hunger across the country. There is also the need to encourage value-added exports to strengthen economic growth.

All these cannot happen by chance but need to be addressed in a purposeful manner. The implication here is that, the country cannot continue in the same old ways of doing things but must come up with innovative strategies of achieving the desired vision. At a glance, the 36 Ministers-designate so far may be seen to be too many. However, when viewed in terms of the specific peculiar needs of the country such as the desire for rapid economic growth, employment generation at the district level and fulfilling the aspiration for all-inclusive growth and development in different parts of the country, it becomes easy to understand why six new Ministries, to be based at the Presidency, have become necessary. The need for regional re-organisation, inner-city and Zongo development, special development initiatives and Ministerial monitoring and evaluation of all government projects, among others, constitute the new direction that the country must follow for the realisation of the vision of the President. The battle ahead is a tough one but that is the only option available for us to achieve our dreams.

The President needs the support of all to deliver, not destructive vicious attacks meant to destroy the reconstruction effort underway in the country. Let us avoid criticising others through prejudiced lenses as this can draw us back into the undesirable dark days of suffering, corruption, arrogance of power and aimlessness. At least, there is much hope for the future so this should be exploited to inject energy to propel us all to achieve what is good for the country. It is important to keep away from cheap propaganda and focus on the good works and results which are yet to come. Patience is a virtue so we need to unite to support the President to achieve our ultimate desire of an accelerated economic growth and improved standard of living for all Ghanaians.


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

President Akufo-Addo’s Ministerial Appointments And Development Vision For Ghana By Nana Sifa Twum

On the 7th of January this year, Ghana saw the birth of a new government. The country again demonstrated to the rest of the world another democratic feat, with the swearing in of the fifth President of the Fourth Republic. The new government led by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has nominated people for almost all key ministerial positions. The swift manner in which the names of the nominees were released signifies President Akufo-Addo's preparedness to take over the reins of governance of the country. This perhaps is unprecedented in the annals of the governance history of Ghana where within two days after swearing-in, the new President has come out with names of nominees to handle various ministries, to form the government. Some of the names were even announced before he was sworn in as President.

Taking into consideration the herculean task ahead of him and the limited time of four years he has to make an impact and perhaps qualify for reelection in 2020, President Akufo-Addo immediately communicated his nominations to the legislature. He went further to appeal to the august House to expedite action on the approval or otherwise of the nominees so that he can set in motion his governance machinery. His call to parliament to effectively scrutinize all his appointees and not “rubber stamp” them in “wholesale” as qualified is also welcome news. The thirty-six names so far nominated have been hailed as highly talented, rich in knowledge and skill and achievers. Most of them have much to show by way of success in their respective fields of endeavour. Throughout his campaign trail, President Akufo-Addo made the people of Ghana aware of how bad the economy had been, the deplorable nature of the rail system, and the poor living conditions in the Zongo communities. He told Ghanaians about the need to reorganize the regions to ensure fair, equitable and balanced distribution of national resources among other crucial national needs. His nominations for ministerial position therefore have direct bearing on these aspirations, especially when one looks at some new and unheard-of ministries.

By and large, the nominations have been hailed by experts as excellent as against what critics say constitute duplication. Governance Expert, Professor Baffour Agyeman Duah for instance has the view and I quote “every President has a vision therefore the creation of new Ministries are meant to promote the vision and goals of the new administration.” unquote. The clear message from these new ministries is that one cannot continue to do the same thing and hope to achieve new results. As a people, it is important to accept change, explore more opportunities available to achieve new and satisfying results. The President’s ambition to turn the nation around is obviously clear and the step for the start is right. All the key areas which the President has highlighted as crucial and therefore ensuring pragmatic approach to their recovery such as aviation, railways, regional reorganisation and business development are honestly genuine needs of the people of Ghana.

With a collapsed railway system and without a national carrier, Ghana has been entertaining more than 42 other national airlines into its air space. This indeed warrant such an approach from a visionary leader. The question about the cost implications and the funding of the new ministries should be looked at as an investment. The longer Ghanaians sustain such investments the more citizens will enjoy the dividends. It is also believed that the gender and regional issues will be addressed in the deputy ministerial and other appointments.

Ghanaians must exercise patience to see how the new Ministries would perform in the general governance of President Akufo-Addo, bearing in mind that we all float together or sink together.


Friday, 13 January 2017

President Akufo-Addo’s Nominees For Ministerial Appointments

The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at a news briefing on Tuesday and Wednesday officially announced some ministerial nominees for approval by Parliament approval committee.The professional background and expertise of the nominees undoubtedly seem to make them suitable for their respective portfolios, having excelled in similar endeavours as politicians, business persons, entrepreneurs, public and civil servants. Comments following the announcement have been varied, but generally, it appears the appointments are in the right direction. Managing a nation requires such experienced people more especially in the face of economic challenges characterised by unemployment, high interest rate, budget deficit, high cost of living, and huge foreign and domestic debt. These challenges, coupled with the promises made by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) during the campaign place a heavy burden on the President and his appointees. The nominees when given the nod by Parliament are expected to help the President to initiate area specific policies and programmes to achieve better living conditions for Ghanaians. Irrespective of one’s political affiliation, favourable economic environment will ensure to the benefit of all Ghanaians.

The appointment of experienced and qualified persons alone cannot make Ghana a better place to live. The appointees are expected to come out with strategies that are not alien to the Ghanaian environment. Ghanaians will no longer take any excuses. The immediate past National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration had its fair share of criticism regarding the crop of Ministers President John Mahama worked with.To some, the critics were proved right in that, the utterances of some of them were in bad taste. It is therefore not surprising that some people attributed the NDC's defeat in the December 7 polls to these attitude and culture. This should serve as a lesson and a guide to President Akufo-Addo in appointing his ministers.

Apart from all the rich academic credentials of the ministerial nominees, the most important criteria are the person’s attitude and human relations in general. Some of these common human-relation skills can never be acquired in the classroom. President Akufo Addo in his other appointments should exclude people whose actions and inactions can have a negative impact on the NPP administration.

As prospective state appointees lobby for placement in the current NPP administration, they should be mindful that, the office is a political one and one can be reshuffled at any time. They must bear in mind that, there are so many qualified people in the country to take over anytime they are relieved of their posts. They should note that their stay in office, will largely depend on how they conduct themselves to realise the positive impact that Ghanaians desire when they voted for change in the December 7, 2016 general election.