Thursday, 29 October 2015

Adulteration Of Palm Oil

The news that palm oil is being adulterated with a chemical for dyeing known as sudan Four is most distressing and dangerous. The substance is said to be dangerous to health and can cause cancer and other diseases. Palm oil is consumed in many homes and chop bars in Ghana as it is used to prepare a lot of dishes. It is used in okro stew, egusi stew, gari and beans and many more. This makes it an important ingredient in the food of many Ghanaians. 

The adulteration is worrying and criminal. Furthermore, the fact that palm oil in almost all the major markets in Accra is contaminated through adulteration is worrisome. It won’t be out of place to say that this development can affect the livelihood of a lot of people, from farmers to those who purchase the commodity from them and sell to the market women and the market women themselves. 

What we are looking at is the possible collapse of an industry due to the greed and total disrespect for human life and health by some Ghanaians.

One can assume that palm oil is not the only food product being adulterated in the country. There is talk of pork and turkey tail also being dyed with one form of dye or the other whose chemical composition is suspect. Some people are said to be repackaging food products under very unhygienic and suspicious circumstances.

 It is no secret that some traders buy paint from accredited manufacturers and adulterate it with glue and starch and the like. This kind of paint peels off after a few months. Only God knows which other edible and non-edible products are being adulterated in Ghana for profit.

In the midst of all this, it is gratifying that institutions mandated to ensure that we are not poisoned for profit such as the Food and Drugs Authority are on the alert and are collaborating with other regulators to ensure that the consumer is safe and will get value for money.

 We must all ensure as Ghanaians that the get rich quick attitude of some compatriots does not endanger our health and lives. For greed in all its form, is dangerous and criminal. Let's all be each other's keeper and expose those among us who would like to adulterate food and other products for profit.

 Our get rich attitude must be replaced by the quest for hard work, originality, enterprise and patriotism. 'Pe se na mi ku menya' the Akan saying- which means getting it all for oneself is negative and will not help us build Ghana into the paradise we all want it to be.


Monday, 26 October 2015

Appreciate Rights Of Children In Special Schools

Special schools are institutions that take absolute care of students with special needs. These students are very vulnerable and are entrusted in the care of well-trained special professional teachers. The special schools are for the deaf, blind and mentally retarded. There are about 30 of such schools across the country.

 It is significant to note that every professional teacher, apart from the special education teachers, is equipped with basic knowledge of special education which will help to detect any special challenges facing pupils and students during interactions in the classroom. 

For example if a teacher finds out that a particular child, all the time copies words or numerals wrongly, it calls for some investigations to find out the cause. It could be a problem with the sight. In the same vein, if during dictation and other oral exercises, the pupil is found to be writing nothing or writing everything wrongly, it could be attributed to hearing impairments. That is why it is worrying to learn that special schools in the country lack adequate resources to operate.

 As a result, their living conditions are nothing to write about; the dormitories and the classrooms are said to be overcrowded. Another worrying situation is that students, who graduate from the schools, are unable to continue their education to higher institutions of learning due to lack of opportunities and facilities.

It is understood that parents of children in special schools do not pay fees and the authorities rely solely on government subventions which, unfortunately delays sometimes. When one visits the Mampong-Akwapim Senior High Technical School, Ghana’s only secondary school for the deaf, one is faced with the distressed state of the school in terms of resources to run it.

 The situation is not different at the Wenchi Methodist Senior High School, the only senior high school for the blind. The recent news about the delay in release of grants and other basic resources needed for the smooth running of the over 30 special schools in Ghana is to say the least troubling and defeats government’s quest to promote social protection. It must be underscored that these schools are attended by Ghanaian students and are therefore entitled to enjoy all the fundamental human rights enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.

There is the need to treat students with special needs in a manner that will promote social cohesion and integration of vulnerable groups into socio-economic development. We expect the Special Education Directorate of the Ghana Education Service to sit up and work with the relevant authorities to create congenial atmosphere to address the needs of the special child.

 The special need children are disadvantaged by no fault of theirs, so let's work together to make life comfortable for them.


Friday, 23 October 2015

Conserve water resources to serve future needs

The Ghana Water Company Limited GWCL is the state institution mandated to treat water and supply to consumers across the country. As an institution, the GWCL may have its own challenges in discharging its mandate.

One of such challenge is the fast rate at which the country abundant water resources, including rivers, bodies are being destroyed through irresponsible behaviours like galamsay operations.

 All Ghanaians have a role to play to prevent further destruction of water bodies. We contribute to the gradual extinction of water resources through dumping refuse, and other solid waste into water bodies. People also contaminate water through the use of chemicals for fishing. 

All these activities are a major cause of water pollution in the country. The Odaw River and the Korle Lagoon are two regrettable examples found in Accra the national capital.

 These water bodies have been extremely polluted to the extent that they have become the an eye soar to residents of the city and visitors. These is abide from the health implication of the polluted of water bodies.

As these rivers are polluted, they dry up, depriving people of clean drinking water, destruction to fishes and other aquatic lives. Also, food cultivation and for that matter agriculture is severely affected since farmers cannot have constant source of water for irrigation. Experts have predicted a possible third World War in connection with access to clean drinking water in the near future.

But this forecast can be averted if we begin to see water preservation as a battle for all humanity. In the cities and towns where potable water is delivered through pipes, we have the responsibility to ensure that water is not abused, polluted or wasted. It is important that institutions involved in water management will be well resourced to discharge their duties effectively. 

Water management and conservation is increasingly becoming important especially with increasing world population.

This calls for high demand for potable water and increased cost of treating and supply of water. It is worthy of note that Ghana’s water sector continues to make great strides. Presently, supply of potable water is said to outstrip demand in the Greater Accra region even though some areas still lack potable water in the metropolis. 

Thankfully, the World Bank is partnering the GWCL, to solve this problem though new that pipes can withstand the high pressure water being pumped through them.

 These efforts by the company towards water sufficiency need the support of citizens. We must all help to protect and preserve water by using water judiciously. People who are involved in illegal taping of water must be reported and punished. 

Estate developers must avoid building houses and other structures on underground water pipes. This creates serious impediments in the supply of water.

We must also report promptly to the Ghana Water Company all cases of pipe burst in our neighbourhood which lead to waste of potable water. Let us support the Ghana Water Company remain committed to its core business of production and distribution of potable water to consumers across the country.


Thursday, 22 October 2015

Resolve District Assemblies Issue Through Consensus Building

Ghana’s decentralization programme has helped to empower citizens at the local level. The enthusiasm that characterized the recent District Assembly and Unit Committee elections clearly show that people at the local level are committed to lead the crusade to accelerate development in the various communities. Strengthening governance at the District level is a practical process to consolidate the gains made in constitutional democracy and sustainable development. 

After the victories by the Assembly members and the composition of Government appointments, the Assemblies were recently inaugurated throughout the country with the core message that they are the agents of development at the grass root. There is no doubt that the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies are the vision for rural development and transformation.

The current session of Assemblies was delayed over some disagreement regarding the constitutional Instrument for conducting the elections. In effect, the MMDAs did not have the complement of the full house to conduct business. Now that the Assemblies are in session they need to work extra hard to recover the time lost over the issue of constitutional instrument.

 The Presiding Members are critical in the conduct of business at the Assemblies. Because of their special role, it is incumbent on the District Assembly to have a Presiding Member who shall be elected by the Assembly from among its members. The Presiding Member shall be elected by at least two-thirds majority of all the members of the Assembly and shall preside over the meetings of the Assembly.

 It is in this regard that the deadlock in electing Presiding Members at some of the MMDAs must be resolved as quickly as possible so that development projects and programmes are not delayed further. It is gratifying to note that other Assemblies have elected their Presiding Members and are set to push forward the decentralisation and democracy agenda. 

This is the time for members at the Assemblies with the deadlock in electing Presiding Members to show maturity and let the interest of the Districts be their prime focus. When they reconvene to conduct another election to fill the vacant Presiding Member positions they should let their personal interest give way to the collective interest through this they can pursue the development agenda of the District for the next four years in peace and unity for the public good.

 Indeed by 1988 people’s movement were galvanized for the decentralization process. Ghanaians had known they were to vote to elect representatives and forming their own governments at the District Assembly level long before the 1992 constitution. Many structures were enshrined to check abuse of power. It is probably one of the reasons the election of Presiding Members is crucial to promote social and economic rights of the citizens at the grass root.

Ghanaians have come to understand the need to participate in processes that will ensure that the Assemblies follow due process. One of such process is the election of Presiding Members to steer affairs at the Assemblies to solve local issues. 

The test case for the current session of the MMDAs will be seen in terms of how they work towards consensus building which need to feature in the work of the assemblies, if they are to make any head way in the development aspirations.

 Those Assemblies with the deadlock have no excuse to further delay the election of Presiding Members. They must watch carefully the dancing steps of detractors and listen attentively to messages that call for consensus building as they approach the next election of the presiding members.

 All too soon the 21 days for those Assemblies that could not elect their Presiding Members will be the thing of the past. As elected and appointees assembly members there is the need to use their privileged position for transformation at the local level and not for destruction. If there are issues, our Assemblies need to approach them in a manner that will not retard development and growth.


Ensure Congenial Atmosphere For Academic work

At long last, the dust has settled and the placement exercise of newly qualified students into Senior High Schools has been effected through the computerised School Selection Programme (CSSP). 

The computerised selection system continues to attract mixed reaction from the public. The doubting Thomases view the computerisation system as lacking in transparency and fraught with corruption since it is human beings who operate the computers. Others see the whole exercise as an improvement over the previous system where Heads of SHS had a field day in the selection exercise. They called the shots and parents and guardians were at their beck and call.

Stakeholders in the education sector agree that the new system requires further improvement. The headache of parents in a new academic year is how to secure admission for their children in their first choice schools which are perceived as elite institutions.

 It is the dream of many parents that their wards attend such elite schools and they will move heaven and earth to achieve their aim. 

If there is anything heads of such elite schools should be concerned about now is that they need to avoid any enticement from parents because the camera of Anas Aremeyaw Anas can be anywhere. By the end of this month, most SHS in the country would have received their full complement of form one students for academic work to begin.

Some SHS may be admitting over six hundred students which may over stretch the already limited facilities in the schools. When students in a school, far exceed the facilities available, makeshift arrangements may be made but they are not the best and teaching and learning suffers.

 'Perching'' is a dangerous culture developing in some of the Senior High Schools. In such situations, there is the tendency to have two students sleeping on one bed, which can eventually end up in the practice of lesbianism and gayism. 

School authorities are to ensure that no two students sleep on one bed. House masters and house mistresses must work round the clock to ensure that the atmosphere in the dormitories is healthy. Another area school authorities must focus on is how some parents give their children huge sums of money for their personal spending.

 Huge sums of money on fresh students should not be countenanced, since it can undermine discipline in the school.

 Apart from school uniforms and house dresses, no other dresses should be entertained. Medical records of SHS form one students should be properly kept to enable school authorities monitor students who may need special medical attention. This includes students who are on special diet.

 There should also be conscious effort to give orientation to the new students to enable them to appreciate how the school system works, like the use of the library, the science, Agriculture and the computer laboratories as well as offices of the school administrators.

It is important that school authorities ensure new students are not subjected to inhuman treatment by their seniors. What the new students need is an atmosphere that will give them the peace of mind devoid of any intimidation from any quarters. That will encourage them to study hard, where the sky will be the limit in their academic pursuit.


Monday, 19 October 2015

Inauguration Of New Community SHS

In line with the National Democratic Congress' manifesto to ensure equitable access to secondary education in Ghana, President John Mahama made two key campaign commitments in the run-up to the 2012 general elections. 

The first one was to build 200 community Senior High Schools, and the second; to implement the 1992 constitutional requirement to make secondary education progressively free. It is significant to note that the objective of the dual promise is to expand physical access, with a focus on underserved rural communities and provide needed incentives for Ghanaian teenagers to enroll in secondary schools. 

And so, within a space of one month, two of the new community day SHSs, namely Professor John Evans Atta Mills Senior High School at Otuam in the Mfantsiman East District of the Central Region, and Gwiraman Senior High School at Bamiankor in the Nzema East municipality of the Western Region, have seen the light of day, following their inauguration by President Mahama.

 It must be put on record that these two community SHSs are characteristically the same in outlook, that is, the E-block structure. Each of the schools is made up of the following components: 24 classrooms, four laboratories for Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Integrated Science, eight offices for departmental heads, ICT laboratories and Internet Learning Area. There is also, a hall for students and teachers to congregate for social events.

To demonstrate its resolve to successfully kick-start the programme, the government has released 12.2 million cedis to the Ministry of Education to pay for the first term fees. Items covered include examination, library, entertainment, Students Representative Council (SRC) dues, science development, Science and Mathematics quiz, sports, culture, ICT and curricular.

 It is gratifying to note that, though the free SHS is beginning with day students, the road map for implementation would be religiously followed to cover boarding students. The Ministry of Education has further received funds to recruit 9,300 teachers to start the free SHS programme.

Indeed, one significant characteristic of the community SHS project is the location of ICT, Internet and Science Laboratories on the ground floor to compensate for the physically challenged.

This is not enough and so it is recommended that future structures factor in special walk ways within the school building to allow the physically challenged to have equal access to all floors. It is also recommended that buses be allocated to all the schools to enable them to transport students who live beyond five kilometers from the school. 

Irrespective of whichever political persuasion one is aligned to, it is important to acknowledge the fact that the schools when fully completed, will be the property of Ghanaians and opened to all Ghanaian children desirous of attaining quality basic education. We say more grease to your elbow Mr. President and Government of Ghana.


Significance Of Hand Washing

Hand washing with soap has been cited as one of the most cost-effective interventions to prevent diarrhoeal related deaths and infectious diseases. Statistics compiled by UN Agencies including UNICEF indicate that hand washing with soap at critical times - including before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet - can reduce diarrhoea rates by more than 40 per cent. It can cut down the incidence of acute respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia by around 23 per cent. Hand washing can also be a critical measure in controlling pandemic outbreaks of respiratory infections. Several studies carried out during the 2006 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) suggest that washing hands more than 10 times a day can cut the spread of the respiratory virus by 55 per cent. In spite of the magic of this simple act, indications are that rates of hand washing around the world are low.

Interestingly, hand washing is an act that can be easily done anywhere as long as one has water and soap. Yes, it is not an act that can be done without any attendant ceremonious activities nor does it require sophisticated equipment. For instance, in communities like Konsuaso in the Kejebi district of the Volta region, community members have improvised an easy way of washing their hands after using the toilet or when they return home from work. The hand washing system comprises a plastic gallon that is perforated close to the bottom and plugged with a stick. It is then filled with water and mounted on two bigger sticks. Soap is placed in a small tin on the stand. When one is ready to wash his or her hands, the individual just unplugs and is able to wash under running water. 

This does not require government subsidies nor donor funding. What it does require however, is a triggering by experts who are mostly field officers of District Environmental Health Offices. They have been trained to appreciate the relationship between the environmental hazards of open defecation popularly known as “free range,” the spread of infectious diseases like cholera and dysentery; and the remedy simple hand washing provides. The fact is that we pick up germs with our hands from various points including visiting the toilet, playing or working, and also from objects such as doorknobs and stair railings as well as from handshakes. So when one forgets to wash the hands, he or she can spread these germs to other people or give them to one's self by touching the eyes, mouth, nose or cuts on the body.

So if possible, one needs to wash the hands thoroughly with soap before preparing food, before eating, handling raw and cooked or ready to eat food; after visiting the toilet or changing diapers; before breast feeding babies; after smoking; using a tissue or handkerchief; handling rubbish or working in the garden; after playing; and returning from school, work or travel.

 This is an indirect call to a life of good hygiene and proper sanitation. Negligence in observing this very simple and basic rule has dire consequences as already mentioned. There is particular concern about people's attitude to toilet and human excreta or faeces. It is a known fact that human excreta can transmit many infectious diseases between people, including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, and diarrhoeal diseases. Under-nutrition, pneumonia and worm infections are also associated with unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene.

 These result in reduced physical growth, weakened physical fitness and impaired cognitive functions, particularly among children under age 5. But all of these can be curtailed by the simple act of washing ones hands with soap under running water.

The importance of this simple act, led to the creation of Global Hand washing Day on October 15th during the 2008 Annual World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. It was an initiation of the Public Private Partnership for Hand washing.

 It resulted in a campaign aimed at reducing childhood mortality rates, related respiratory and diarrhoeal diseases by introducing a simple behavioral change, which is hand washing with soap. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Raise a hand for hygiene.” It is an action oriented theme to identify one as a hygiene champion. 

So on this occasion the message is simple and clear – “Wash your hands and be a champion for hygiene and good health.”


World Food Day And Its Significance

The celebration of World Food Day each year provides an opportunity for the International Community and all stakeholders to reflect upon the global food situation with the view to adopting pragmatic policies and programmes to ensure global food security and to combat hunger and malnutrition.

 Each year, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, adopts a theme that provides food for thought and serves as a guide and a policy framework for the International Community to promote the goals and objectives Organisation, the World Food Programme and other allied institutions. 

The celebration of this year’s World Food Day marks the 35th edition of the event and the 70th Anniversary of the FAO.

 The theme for the 35th edition; “Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty” is meant to draw global attention to the important role of Social Protection and Agriculture as intervention tools in eradicating poverty, hunger and malnutrition and providing sustainable income for the vulnerable in the society.

Observance of World Food Day was first instituted in 1979 and has since become one of the major features on the calendar of the International Community and the Food and Agriculture Organisation. As the day, is being marked, one question that begs for an answer is; how far has the world promoted food security for the billions of people on this planet? Is the dream towards eradicating poverty and hunger in sight? According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, it is possible to eradicate poverty and hunger only if governments will commit themselves to the task of investing in Agriculture, social protection programmes and other such interventions. 

In recognition of this goal, world leaders in September, 2000 signed their commitment to achieve eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The first of these goals is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Since then, there have been significant achievements in this regard.

 For instance, 40 countries including Ghana have already achieved the first target that is, to half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015. Again according to the FAO reports, the likelihood of a child dying before age five has been reduced considerably.

 As a result, close to 17 thousand children are saved each day from the pangs of death. It is estimated that about 800 million people face serious starvation and hunger in the world, a situation which is certainly not good. It is therefore heartwarming to note that the FAO and the World Food Programme are jointly committed to the complete eradication of hunger and malnutrition by 2030 as one of their major priorities. This challenge though daunting is feasible, only if all in the agriculture industry commit themselves to the task.

 This would indeed put smiles on the faces of the millions of people, especially the vulnerable and the marginalised.

A lot of social intervention progammes have been introduced by government over the last two years, to raise the standard of living of Ghanaians. These include the National Health Insurance Scheme, Capitation Grant, School Feeding Programme, Cash for Work and the National Fertilizer subsidy programme by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Protection.

 It is worth noting that FAO has listed 72 countries out of a total of 129 which have made significant strides in the attainment of Millennium Development Goals. This has resulted in the drastic reduction of people living in extreme poverty especially in developing countries from 43 per cent in 1990 to 17 per cent in 2015. 

As the world marks yet another Food Day, it is also important to take note of the many challenges that confront the Agriculture Sector. Perhaps, the most disturbing one is land and environmental pollution and degradation. Again, for most small holder farmers, affordability and accessibility to loan is a far-fetched dream. The fact is; most financial entities prefer engaging other sectors of the economy especially Real Estate Development and the Oil Industry when it comes to loan facilities.

 It is gratifying to note that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has over the years initiated policies and programmes to give the sector a major boost.

 The launch of the Ghana Agriculture Sector Investment Project (GASIP) is one such example.

On this occasion, let us reflect soberly on the theme “Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty” and see how collectively, we can make the vision of breaking the cycle of rural poverty a reality.


Thursday, 15 October 2015

President Mahama's Address At The UN

resident John Dramani Mahama is gradually carving a niche for himself as a good orator and confident statesman on the world stage. His eloquence and delivery was a delight to watch and listen to as he addressed the 70th session of the United Nation's General Assembly. 

However, it is his desire for change and transformation in the world and in Ghana which caught the attention of many. His desire to ensure that some practices and beliefs though considered traditional but are inimical to progress are changed is commendable.

 This is because, some practices that served society well in the past might not serve society well currently. It is also remarkable that the President is keen on reviewing the rules of engagement in Ghana, to create a balance between the maintenance of law and order and the basic rights of people to free speech and free expression.

 This would further strengthen democracy and enhance the exchange of ideas across the political divide free of intimidation by state actors and ensure responsibility on the part of political actors.

It was also worthwhile that President Mahama found space in his speech at the UN to talk about traditions that refuse individuals especially women and children their basic rights and force them into situations of vulnerability to poverty, disease and other unbearable hardships. 

This lends credence to efforts at creating programmes and policies to bridge the gap of inequality between men and women in Ghana. The President also told the world about moves by Ghana to fight poverty through the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty or the LEAP programme that has benefited more than 77 thousand households nationwide. This coupled with efforts to address child mortality and malnutrition is a plus for Ghana and is worth emulating by developing countries.

 It was also commendable and fitting for the President to inform the world what Ghana has been able to achieve regarding the Millennium Development Goals target on universal basic education which has encouraged parents to send girls to school and has at the primary level achieved gender parity.

 The President did not shy away from the energy crisis. He all but told the world the challenges we are facing as a nation with power and its resultant slow growth and the steep toll on economic and social life. 

He did not only outline what government is doing to rectify the situation but also called on all nations to ensure the achievement of energy sufficiency in a manner that is sustainable and which would not further worsen the fragile environment of planet earth. Listening to the President, there was no doubt that we have in him a worthy representative.

It is hoped his eloquence statesmanship and demeanor would translate into concrete and effective efforts to move Ghana forward and make it the beacon that the whole of Africa and the developing world would like to look up to. What more can one say but to repeat the refrain "God bless our homeland Ghana, and make our nation great and strong."'


Managing Plastic Wastes For A Better

As a nation, it is important to accept the reality that, the management of plastic wastes has not been the best. This certainly calls for the need to support efforts at finding a lasting solution to the problem since its effects such as cholera and malaria have no respect for all persons, irrespective of age, colour and gender. 

According to health officials, the 2014 cholera outbreak in Ghana hit a record seventeen thousand (17, 000) cases with 150 deaths. The last time Ghana suffered such a staggering number of cholera cases was in 1982. Signs of a cholera outbreak were on the wall after heavy rains exposed the filthy nature of the nation’s capital. In January 2013, the Ghana Health Service declared a cholera outbreak in the Ashanti Region. Eighteen people died and 310 cases were registered in that region. Majority of infected persons were women and children.

 In view of this, the Ghana Health Service warned of a possible cholera outbreak in Accra due to the insanitary conditions in the city coupled with the onset of the rains. Indeed many have raised concerns about the poor management of plastics in Ghana. In a wake-up call, the President, John Dramani Mahama, addressing members of the El-Wak Keep Fit Club in Accra, warned that Ghana might have to go the Rwanda way when he said ‘in Rwanda, plastics are banned, nobody uses plastics and yet they are surviving.’ It is said that hard times never last but tough people do.

The plastic waste challenges Ghana is confronted with today, will last if tough decisions to ensure a clean and sound environment are not taken. It is in the light of this that the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, has noted with great concern, that, since the introduction of plastic products in the late 1990s, the management of plastic waste has been be-devilled with a number of challenges including the use of poor technology and the negative attitude of people in its use and disposal. 

Following discussions with stakeholders, an agreement has been reached for proper management of plastics in the country, that from the 1st of November 2015, all flexible plastics produced in the country should have bio-degradable additive to make them bio-degradable for easy management. Also, all stocks of flexible plastics would have to be cleared from the market in three months ending this month. According to the directives, all flexible plastics below 20 microns produced in the country and imported would not be allowed in the country from the 1st of November 2015.

 In addition, all flexible plastic products should be labeled with the manufacturers’ name, logo, date and location of the company for easy identification where necessary. It is a welcome news, the sector Ministry’s assurance, that further discussions with stakeholders are ongoing to ensure introduction of re-usable friendly plastics, increase recycling, institute the culture of waste separation and segregation, institute other incentives that will encourage plastic buy-back at shopping malls and other places.

 It is worth noting the Ministry’s pledge to work timelessly to ensure that the current plastic situation is brought under control to create a healthy and clean Ghana. This makes it imperative, the need for Ghanaians to join hands with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation to create the desired environment we want and deserve. 

The road map set out by the Ministry and relevant institutions to curb plastic wastes in the country ought to be taken note of and complied with by all. Let us consider the enormous benefits that would accrue from the new prescription for the production of flexible plastics with biodegradable additive of not less than 20 microns in the country, when we sacrifice and comply for the good course.


Inauguration Of 216 MMDAs

The delay of the inauguration of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies until today, was as a result of the aborted March elections following a court case over the legitimacy of the elections as a whole. Meanwhile, the Nkoranza North and South Districts could not take part in the inauguration, as elections could not be held there, for legal reasons. 

Lower Manya Krobo District Assembly, whose term of office has not yet expired, was obviously exempted. Though belated, the inauguration of the Assemblies, has given way to the election of Presiding Members and the establishment of Sub-Committees which would go a long way to make the Assemblies fully functional and, thus, be in a position to effectively run all the statutory businesses that go to give meaning to the essence of establishing the District Assembly Concept.

 As usual, photo exhibitions were mounted in some of the Districts to showcase their achievements so far, and investment opportunities that are aimed at attracting private partnerships towards the acceleration of development efforts at the Metropolitan, Municipal and District levels.

 That brings to mind the question of whether the Assemblies have lived up to their expectations since the first inaugural ceremonies, as far back as 1988, that is, 27 years ago. With devolution of power and authority from the centre to the doorsteps of the people, it could be frankly stated that, much more could have been done over the years but for the myriad of challenges that confront the Assemblies.

Delays in the release of the District Assembly Common Fund, the controversy of whether the Chief Executives still be appointed by the President or elected by the people, needless politicization, especially during Assembly elections and the, refusal of experienced public servants to relocate from urban to rural communities. Other challenges the relevance of government appointees, and the non-commitment of various regimes to be politically bold enough to fully ensure the complete decentralization of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies for the Assemblies to be effectively functional in promoting their development agenda - with little or no interference from the nation's capital, Accra.

 In fact, it is the belief of a school of thought that, not until the power and authority of Ministries are reduced to mere Secretariats as envisaged with the inception of the District Assembly concept; and also not until much importance is attached to the functions of Assembly Members by reducing substantially the emphasis and grandeur surrounding the National Parliamentary system, the Assemblies will continue to be institutions left in the pages of books. Furthermore, one of the greatest challenges of the District Assembly concept has often been the calibre and quality of the Chief Executives appointed to steer the affairs of the Assemblies.

 There is no doubt that a lot of such men and women have performed creditably, to the admiration of the people and government they served; but regrettably, a lot more have used the Assemblies to pursue their personal agenda, especially by eyeing the Parliamentary seats within their jurisdiction. Yet on record of public perception, some of them have created a wedge between their offices and traditional authorities who should have been natural partners of growth and development of their communities.

Despite all these challenges, the success so far chalked up with our unique concept of governance at the local levels has become a centre of attraction to other African countries. That is a good signal that, if we put all our arms to the wheel and become fully committed to the tenets of the District Assembly concept, we will be able to pull the chestnut out of the blazing fire.

 Luckily for us as a nation, the District Assembly concept is non-partisan. The good people of this country must therefore stand up and resist any attempts to extend the woes of the partisan political practice at the national level to the districts, in order to preserve in our communities, the little dignity that we have with the commonality of purpose to development. 

To stand still in death; and to look back is defeatist. We have no option but to look forward and assure ourselves that the District Assembly system is the most viable way of not merely sending power and authority to the grassroots, but surely guaranteeing the participation of the masses in their own governance and development.


'End to Corporate Greed'

October 7 is here again and trade Unions globally as usual are championing the world day for Decent work. This has been the spectacular effort of the International Trades Union Congress since 2008, to mobilize all Trades Unions over the world to stand up for decent work.

 Though it's on a low profile in Ghana, activities marking this years, edition, stretch from Japan to Ecuador and South Africa to Russia as 33 countries have already been registered on the special website. Last year, the focus was on: Justice for Workers; Climate Justice, as workers drew attention to their plight.

 This years' edition, under the banner; “End Corporate Greed” really serves a global purpose, as for example, Brussels, the “Capital of Europe”, comes to a standstill with a huge demonstration organised by the Belgian trade unions against austerity, while unions from the manufacturing sector hold events in some parts of the world to demand an end to precarious working conditions.

On this occasion, many trade unions are expected to be on the streets to make personal contact with rush-hour commuters while others hold press conferences, public events and workplace meetings to drum home the need for people in authority to attend to the genuine concerns of workers in both the private and public sectors for work efficiency and effectiveness sake.

 Locally, it sounds rather unfortunate, how the nation is battling with labour unrests particularly in the public sector, especially in the education and health sectors which is becoming one too many. Prominent among them are doctors, pharmacists, some category of teachers and drivers, and now nurses and midwives.

 With the global economic crisis still hitting working people hard, in every part of the world, trade unions around the world are demanding decent jobs and full respect for workers’ rights. It sounds appropriate therefore, as Germany’s trade union centre DGB holds a conference to press for “Fair Play for Workers in Mega Sports Events” as pressure mounts for reform of FIFA and an end to exploitation of the workers who build and deliver the world’s major sports competitions. 

Presently raging in South Africa is mass workers protest led by COSATU for a decent living minimum wage. At the just ended UN General Assembly, four pillars of the Decent Work Agenda were identified as employment creation, social protection, rights at work, and social dialogue which will become integral elements of the new United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

With the global focus on ending corporate greed, eliminating precarious work and formalising informal jobs, as well as living minimum wages, there is every need to support ITUC General Secretary's call to transform the exploitative supply chain model which robs workers while filling the coffers of multinational companies, many of which are culpable of the most egregious exploitation including the use of modern slavery. The trade union movement stands with the most exploited and vulnerable in the global economy.

 On this day, the World Day for Decent Work, workers everywhere are expected to show their determination to build a better world for working families and for generations to come.


The Need To Keep A Healthy Eye

Do you know that your eyes are your wealth? Have you ever imagined not been able to see the food you are eating or if the clothes you are wearing are clean or not? Or perhaps how beautiful the sky is? To know the value of sight, ask someone who just lost his or her sight.

 The eye is the window to the body, as well as the door, to the physical world. On this occasion of World Sight Day which falls on every second Thursday of the month of October, the eye health community is focusing on “eye care for all.” This has been the effort of the World Health Organization in collaboration with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, where awareness is spread through a large number of different events.

 One finds it quite regretting that in Ghana, eye care is often relegated to the back in healthcare, with many forgetting that when one loses his/her sight, the individual's quality of life is reduced to a large extent. There is also a high possibility of the person becoming a burden to the family and nation at large. Ghana is ranked high for the prevalence of glaucoma, an eye disease that can cause irreversible blindness. The effects of diabetes, hypertension and HIV/AIDS, on the eyes cannot be underestimated. This clearly indicates the need for all to be involved in eye care because it is a concern and responsibility for all.

As Ghana joins the rest of the global community to observe world sight day today, various eye care units, organisations and companies countrywide are engaging in voluntary services to attend to the health needs of the public.

 Organisations such as The Ghana Blind Union organise free eye screening exercises for members of the general public. Institutions such as the Ghana Health Service and many other corporate entities are embarking on an educative outreach to interact and give key information on good eye care practices. Do you remember the last time you had your eyes examined? What are you doing, to preserve your eyes? And how are you helping to make the life of the visually challenged easier? Get involved and make a difference, because your sight is not only your right, but your wealth.


Egg Day And The Benefits Of Eating Eggs

World Egg Day offers a unique opportunity to help raise awareness on the benefits of eggs. It is celebrated globally on the second Friday in October each year. The day was established at the Vienna 1996 conference. For centuries, eggs have played a major role in feeding families around the globe. They are unbeatable when it comes to versatility and top-quality protein at an affordable price. In deed research has shown that eggs constitute an excellent source of choline, essential in memory and brain development. Regular eggs in take play a key role in disease prevention and contribute well-being in later life, particularly in relation to eyesight and maintenance of the body.

In Ghana, the day is being observed country wide in the ten administrative capitals. The theme for the celebration is “think eggs.” Indeed, it offers a unique opportunity for the public to ponder and discuss the benefits of egg consumption. 

It will also draw the attention of policy makers, implementers and stakeholders in the sector to fashion out more proactive ways of up scaling funding, production and consumption of eggs. According to the Executive Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers, John Torto, the average Ghanaian consumes between 12 to 18 eggs per year. This is indeed woefully inadequate considering the enormous nutritional values, for the growth of the body. 

The current production level of about five million of eggs produced on daily basis falls far below the average in view of the fact that the country has a population of more than 26 million. Indeed the distribution of eggs to selected schools in all the ten regions of the country is a step in the right direction. This will help the youth to develop the interest and habit of consuming eggs. 

The targeting of schools under the National School Feeding Programme is appropriate in that, it will encourage the programme to add eggs to meals provided for school pupils. Indeed the upscale of the production of eggs will not only generate employment but increase the per capital income of the country and more foreign exchange. 

There is the need for government to increase the current budgetary support to the poultry sub-sector. Activities outlined to mark the day such as floats, symposium and the engagement of experts to deliver speeches on the need to consume eggs will give a better understanding of the benefits of eggs consumption. 

The Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers need to go beyond the mere observance of the day and strive to engage rural communities in more educative programmes. They should also form cooperatives to undertake large scale production for both local and the international markets. The time to act is now for tide and time wait for no man.


Inauguration Of New Court Complex

President John Mahama, last Friday, inaugurated the 50 million new Court Complex in Accra, to give the Judiciary, a new lease of life in the midst of the on-going investigation into recent allegation of bribery against some members of the judiciary. The complex comprises 10 land and commercial courts each, six criminal and general jurisdiction courts. The Complex also has three divorce and matrimonial courts, two financial and economic courts and two human rights courts. Provisions were also made for two labour courts and one probate and administration courts. 

The Court Complex has been inaugurated at a critical time in the history of the Judiciary, following the investigative journalistic piece of Anas Aremeyaw Anas, which has unravelled alleged corruption of some judges. A close, critical and in-depth analysis must be made relative to the glaring moral break down in our society and the absence of moral integrity and probity in significant sectors of our society. That must have informed the Chief Justice, Mrs. Theodora Wood, to say that in the appointment of Judges there will be focus on moral and ethical values. It hoped that all morally bankrupt judges, registrars and clerks would reform as they enter the new edifice of 42 court rooms and adjoining judge’s chambers and registries.

We should all be mindful of the fact that the Ghanaian society bears the classic hallmarks of a feudal society where individuals are accorded status, social influence, respect and uninhibited adulation according to their perceived place in society and material affluence. An individual’s concrete contribution to society’s material progress or development is insignificant without the display of financial opulence. For instance, individuals who are alleged to be involved in drug smuggling and other nefarious activities are accorded respect and dignity without taking account of the alleged criminality. 

The nation has been offered a massive opportunity, by Anas’ expose and the inauguration of the new court complex, for a thorough soul searching in order to guarantee a brighter future for the younger generation. It is satisfying to learn that the court complex has a dedicated closed-circuit television and uninterrupted power systems in addition to high-capacity standby generators. This means that members of the public who visit the court premises and offices with ulterior motives such as attempting to entice judicial service staff, are advised to revise their notes since the CCTV could capture them live. It is not too late for all of us to lend a hand of support to the Chief Justice, at this difficult moment of her ladyship, to rid the Judiciary of corruption.


Friday, 9 October 2015

Pay Attention To The Health Of the Heart

The global community is observing today as World Heart Day. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Creating Heart-Healthy Environments.” At the launch of the 2015 edition of the World Heart Day in Accra a fortnight ago, there was a call on Ghanaians to make healthy heart choices at all times. 

A Cardiothoracic Surgeon at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr. Kow Entsua-Mensah, indicated that making a few changes at home could help reduce the risk of heart diseases and strokes. According to Dr. Entsua-Mensah, “things like stocking up on healthy food options, banning smoking from the home, learning more about ones family’s risk of cardiovascular diseases and understanding the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke could reduce the risk of heart disease.” 

It is important to stress that banning smoking at home alone is not enough. The ban in all public places should be given the needed attention as part of effort to check the risk of heart attack or stroke. In this regard, the Ministry of Health is being urged to as a matter of public interest, seriously lobby Parliament to pass the Legislative Instrument (LI) on the ban on smoking in public places. 

We need to appreciate the fact that the environments in which we live, work, and play can have huge effect on our ability to make the right choices for the health of the heart. There is therefore the need to encourage public and private organisations, educational institutions as well as health facilities to ensure that their environments promote healthy heart choices. 

This can be done by saying no to smoking, encouraging cycling to work, school and market and taking the stairs instead of lifts. Let us also patronise healthy food and reduce strain and stress. It is important to accept the fact that physical inactivity could also lead to unhealthy weight gain, diabetes, and a rise in blood pressure. 

As such, there is the urgent need for everyone to get more active in activities that will ensure healthy hearts. On the occasion of the 2015 World Heart Day, we need to show gratitude to all Cardiothoracic Surgeons at National Cardiothoracic Centre at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, their supporting staff in Ghana and their counterparts around the globe for their role in ensuring that people live with healthy hearts.


Stand Up And Be Counted As Demonstrated By Dr. Nkrumah

106 Years since his birth in 1909, and almost 50 years since his overthrow in 1996, we have not stopped talking about him. But one may ask can we stop? Are there any signs of stopping anytime soon? No, and a resounding No it is. As a people, until we have attained the minimum standard of development, which was an aspiration of Dr. Nkrumah, then it is a No. Until the economic independence of Ghana is anchored in strong trade ties with sister African countries, then it is a No. Not until our leaders become selfless and focus their energies more on the welfare of citizenry, then it is NO! Many have been the writings about Ghana the Black Star of Africa. They painted the promise of this new-born nation upon attaining independence in 1957. The early leaders amplified these sentiments. As Nkrumah would have it on the evening of July 1, 1960 in his address to the nation: “What are our prospects? As you know, we are one of the wealthiest countries in Africa. For our size, our potential wealth is immense. We have a variety of minerals including gold, diamond, manganese and bauxite. Our undeveloped agriculture is stupendous and our soil is extremely fertile. Over seven million Ghanaians have a glorious opportunity for building a first class nation comparable to the best in the world.” Osagyefo was clear in his mind that it was through first class governance that a first class nation could be built.

This was his commitment and to this, he relentlessly labored. But have subsequent leaders committed themselves to this creed? In that same address of the historic republican status, he clearly marked out the plan to building this first class nation, thus: “…Our plan therefore must be to build up industries, heavy and basic, and to diversify and mechanize our agriculture, and we must do this with the utmost speed, if we are not to be overtaken by events. The pace at which the world travels today is so fast that no loafer nations can survive the rate of change…” Today, where are all those industries he started? Let alone to talk of new industries created! We paid dearth ears to Nkrumah’s admonition and we have been overtaken by events, sad as the reality is.

Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah was a man who daily stood up to be counted. His exploits have earned him doubtless international praise and recognition. His passion to succeed and overcome obstacles is one trait Ghanaians and Africans seem to be losing in recent times. Even in his acts of omission and errors, one dares say that the premier President and leader of Ghana, stood up to be counted. He was passionate in belief and pursuit of his goals, for the common good of Ghana and Africa’s liberation struggle. Can the same be said about today’s Ghana and her citizens? Have we awakened from our “slumber” of anything goes with plenty room for mediocrity? Do our families reflect the spirit and fortitude displayed by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in his quest for Ghana’s independence and Pan-Africanism? It is on record that till his death, Osagyefo possessed no property. But what we see today, is people acquiring all manner of property, including petrol filling stations which are competing with residential areas for space. How they get money to acquire such property is shrouded in secrecy. There is a proof of pictures of clothes worn by the Osagyefo with inscription within as “Property of Ghana”!!!

As we commemorate the 106th birthday, of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, our country should reflect and invoke the traits and positive values that guided his service to mankind while he was alive. Oh that, in the comity of nations, Ghanaian leaders can rise up and speak against tyranny and oppressor’s rule. Our destiny lies in our hands and may it not be written that it has slipped from our hands!!! In marking his 106th birthday today, there can be no better present for Osagyefo than to have all Ghanaians from Sankana to Accra, Axim to Aflao; public servants and private entrepreneurs; chiefs and their subjects; members of the executive, legislature and judiciary stand up for Ghana and be counted!
Y3n ara asase ni….bought at such a costly price!!!

BY: Bernard A. Mornah, General Secretary, People's National Convention.