Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Why We Must Pay TV License Fee- By Abraham Lamptey

Fellow Ghanaians, no offence to those who oppose to the proposed payment of TV license fees but we have to pay it for the good of our country.

I present a few reasons I hope will be convincing to us as to why we need to support the state broadcaster even if we disagree.

I share in the frustration of many Ghanaians who are ardently opposed to the idea of paying monies to a channel we consider “boring”, “not providing good content” etc.

However, for these same reasons or criticisms, albeit right, we need to fund the national media outfit to be as relevant as we might expect within the media space.

In my observation of the unsparing arguments in opposition to the fees, I realized two fundamental flaws: first the inconsistency and insincerity of some proponents of the idea and then there is unfortunately the nearsightedness of some opposing views.

As I recall from 2016, the payment of the TV license was argued as premised on the possession of a TV set regardless of the channel(s) one watches. Most people rebuffed the argument when it became apparent that the state broadcaster, entrusted with collecting the monies, will receive a lion’s share of the funds.

Since then, the debate has revolved around whether one has to pay for owning a TV or for accessing media content. Without dwelling on the merits and demerits of this, I propose as a response to the shortsightedness that has foregrounded the opposition to the fees.

Granted GBC’s content is irrelevant to most of us who are spoilt for choice when it comes to TV channels, how about those whose sole access to the media is through the public provider? Some might say “well, we don’t care.

Those who watch such channels should be the ones paying for it”.

However, this is where we get it wrong as a people.

Developing our nation and its institutions is a collective responsibility which behooves on every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Imagine people from mineral or cocoa producing areas insisting on channeling income from these resources only into the development of their regions.

Undoubtedly, this will not augur well for the growth of our nation.

As such, we must always bear the entire picture in mind rather than foreclosing our thoughts to our immediate surroundings.

In spite of the many reasons we find to justify GBC’s undeserving of the fees, they form the very rationale for which we need to pay up to revitalize a national asset.

We must refuse to see only the present but more importantly the trans-formational capacity our contributions have to turn the institution’s fortunes around.

We are not paying because GBC deserves it; we are paying to make it worth every pesewa tomorrow when we begin to see the desired change.

Enabling the cash-strapped state organization to compete favorably in the industry adds to the quality of choices we presently boast of.

To attract and keep the best hands at the job, lucrative remuneration and institutional image always a top priority.

Consequently, GBC has over the years lost some of their best personnel to private media who have the financial wherewithal to meet the demands of the market: talk of Dzifa Bampoh, Henry Asante-Twum, and Fred Acheampong just to mention a few.

In light of this, let us invest into the future to make the public broadcaster competitive in terms of human resources, content and viewership and we will be proud of regenerating an essential state resource for years to come.

Ghana needs us and yes we can!

Written By Abraham Lamptey

Culled from Ghanaweb


Noise Pollution During The Yuletide Season & Beyond

Noise pollution has been part of man since creation. By our own activities and attitudes, we become the source of noise almost all the time; we make noise through talking, laughing, working and even when we sleep through snoring.

However, with the advent and abuse of technology, our normal noise making has developed into unbearable noise pollution.

The culprits of the noise pollution are many but for the want of time and for the purpose of this write up, I will restrict myself to just two of them that are loudest during the yuletide, namely; the churches and the drinking bars.

Any one who has ever lived in an environment where a cluster of Pentecostal and Charismatic churches are located will appreciate this phenomenon better.

An impression is sometimes created that they are competing for God's attention through the power of their sounds systems.

In such frenzy mood, one wonders whether the sounds being made are meant for the consumption of the inmates or for the disturbance of those in the vicinity.

This noise pollution by the churches is normally informed and backed the the biblical saying to the Jews then that, they should make a joyful noise unto the Lord.

What is not explained is what a joyful noise is and whether the Israelites then were using as powerful sounds systems as we are using today.

The reality of the situation in most of our churches today is that sometimes, the noise level is so high that it becomes disturbing in the ears of the members themselves but who are you to complain; you will be branded as the devil who is being burned by the Holy Spirit Fire.

One culture that seems to cut across these noise- making churches is the belief that the louder you are the more you attract the attention of God to answer your prayers.

This culture has consciously or unconsciously been fed onto the sub-conscience of the congregation by the leaders.

Many times have I heard some preachers, in an attempt to solicit the attention of their audience say those who will say the loudest Amen or Hallelujah would receive the blessings of God first.

However, the Bible has made it clear in Matthew 6:6 that when we pray in our closet, God who can see in secrete will reward us in public.

Hannah prayed quietly but her prayer was answered by God.

The truth of the matter is that, it is not the amount of noise one makes that attracts God but rather it is the level of faith and the relation one has with God that determine the results of our prayers.

One basic fact that is lost to most of the leaders of the noise- making churches is that by their actions, they are unconsciously antagonizing the church with those in their vicinity contrary to the biblical tenets that we should live in peace with our neighbors and to the Great Commission that exhorts Christians to evangelize right from where we are (Judea) to the end of the world.

Another major source of noise pollution that i believe everybody is aware lies in the activities of the drinking bar operators.

With my interactions with few of the operators, I can boldly conclude that they believe the louder your noise the more you pull customers.

However, my little knowledge in marketing and business management tells me that it is rather the quality of service and customer care that will attract and retain customers but not the mere noise.

As a matter of fact, sometimes, the noise rather chases away customers.

It is not everybody who enters the drinking bar comes there with the sole aim to drink, booze and dance. No; some come with business partners or lovers to do serious discussions but if the noise level is so high that it disturbs their conversation, then the purpose for coming there in the first place is defeated.

From the afore discussions, it is now clear that noise pollution with its accomplice abuse of technology, has become a social canker and a common enyemy of all including the originators themselves. So therefore, let us all make it a point to minimize noise making as we enter 2018.



Need for Senior High schools to have infirmaries

At least eight students have died in five Senior High Schools in less than four weeks across the country. Though the number of deaths reported can easily be quantified mathematically, the social, economic and psychological impacts of the loss of these lives are enormous and priceless. The deaths have been confirmed to be due to Influenza Type A H1N1 and Meningitis.

H1N1 and Meningitis are among the diseases classified as having the potential to spread fast leading to epidemics. These diseases spread mainly via droplets infection and contact with respiratory secretions of infected persons. As a result of this mode of transmission, congestion and overcrowding are some of the necessary factors for these diseases. It is important to note that overcrowding and congestion in the Senior High schools are not new.

The situation seems to have worsened after the roll out of the government’s flagship Free Senior High School policy. Though the policy has given relief to most parents and lauded by many a Ghanaian, it also comes with it some daunting challenges. School facilities such as classrooms and dormitories have undoubtedly been over – stretched.

The resultant widened teacher – student ratio makes it difficult for teachers to easily notice students who may not be well but had not reported to the authorities. Similarly, students who may be sick and hiding in their dormitories cannot easily be noticed by the class teacher. Either by coincidence or consequential, a number of disease outbreaks have been reported in some of these institutions in just the first term of the implementation of the free SHS policy. The number of these outbreaks and the associated deaths reported are unprecedented in recent times in the country.

Second cycles schools are required to have sick bays or infirmaries to cater for the health needs of the students. However in some of the second cycle schools, these facilities are either nonexistent or are poorly developed. In some instances, aside inadequate logistics in the sick bays or infirmaries, the personnel manning them lack the requisite up – to – date health knowledge to appropriately handle the ailments that are reported.

At best, the facilities are managed by retired health staff who are on contract but their physical deterioration may not permit them to put their expertise to the best use. Inappropriate detection of a disease does not only deny the patient the right treatment but the risk of transmitting the disease to others is increased.

To prevent further spread of diseases in schools, some stakeholders have called for immediate decongestion of the schools. While the government plans to provide a long lasting solution to the problem of congestion and overcrowding in the schools, there must be an emergency plan to establish well equipped sickbays and infirmaries in all Senior High Schools. The Ministries of Education and Health must collaborate to have skilled health personnel attached to all the sick bays or infirmaries to ensure prompt detection and appropriate management of sick students.

All second cycle schools would be going on vacation. There must be a comprehensive plan to monitor students from the affected schools until the known incubation period of the diseases are reached before they are allowed to go home. Appropriate linkages between the Ghana Education Service and the Ghana Health Service should be established so that follow – ups and monitoring will be done on all students who return home from the affected second cycle schools. This is to ensure that contacts who may develop the disease later can be detected early for prompt action to be taken.


Need for Ghana to end human trafficking

Human rights activists have described Trafficking of Persons as ''the heinous crime against humanity''. An ILO study conducted in 2015 puts the figure at 21 million people as victims of forced labour globally. Human trafficking is considered a crime that exploits women, children and men for multiple purposes especially labour and sex. Today, it is considered the World's second most lucrative form of employment, besides illicit drugs. Ironically, this is what makes the fight against the menace a very difficult one.

Some have argued that victims come from poor homes and are often promised better conditions by their so called employers. Unfortunately, this may not be entirely true because there are agents, middle persons and pimps who sponsor and negotiate prices of these victims. Stories have been told where women and children have been engaged in inhuman activities and very disturbing situations, in countries such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Often, the victims documents are seized on arrival, locked up and subjected to long hours of work in an environment where they cannot communicate due to language barrier. Obviously, a disturbing and indeed a rather sad scenario that families continue to allow their relatives, in some instances children to be treated as modern day slaves.

The least said about this disheartening situation, the better, as the psychological toll on victims is beyond measure. Some of them have returned home with devastating stories and some hit the point of becoming mentally deranged. This is a scenario that must definitely attract the attention for all to join the fight against Human Trafficking. The UN declared July 30 as the World Day Against Trafficking of Persons to draw attention to the need for a global approach to tackling the menace. Every country in the World is affected by human-trafficking .The UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking of Persons, has asked governments worldwide, to adopt coordinated and consistent measures to defeat the scourge.

Here in Ghana, the Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service has been at the front of the battle. However, it looks like a lot more work needs to be done. It is indeed a dent on Ghana's image for the US State Department to have listed Ghana as a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Ghana has therefore been placed on the watch list for three years in a role. Government must see this as critical, to push the fight harder to ensure that the human trafficking menace is nib in the bud. Credit goes to all stakeholders who have worked over the years to rescue innocent persons, especially children from inhuman circumstances. More especially, those exposed to dangerous situations in coastal areas, especially the Volta Lake. Mention can be made, and recommended for use elsewhere, of the Torkor Model, piloted in Kpando in the Volta Region. This model hinges on using a community centred approach to involve the traditional hierarchy to work at eliminating child trafficking. Ghana has many beautiful laws such as the Human Trafficking Act 2005, Act 694 and the Human Trafficking Prohibition Regulation 2015, LI.2219, yet implementation turns to be a nightmare.

To ensure that Human Trafficking is brought to the barest minimum, all hands must be on deck. Human trafficking is a violation of rights. For children, some have their education truncated, which has a long term negative impact on Ghana's human resource. The time to Prevent, Protect, Prosecute and Partner to battle trafficking of person in Ghana in NOW!!!


Need to strengthen Public Health services in boarding institutions

In the last quarter of this year, Ghana has recorded four incidents of outbreaks and strange health occurrences. Three of these incidents occurred in the Eastern region and one in the Ashanti region of Ghana.

The first was in October when the Ghana Secondary School in Koforidua recorded an outbreak of foodborne disease. Although the exact source and causative agent of the outbreak could not be established, it affected more than 100 students with over 50 of them hospitalized. Fortunately there were no deaths. In the second week of this month, there was a report of the death of a student in the Koforidua Secondary & Technical Institute where preliminary findings suggested the death could be due to meningitis. In St. Martin’s High School in Nsawam about five students were reported to have suddenly collapsed under strange circumstances and were rushed to the hospital for treatment.

Arguably, of the four outbreaks the one that has raised huge public uproar and attention is the H1N1, otherwise called Swine flu. The outbreak occurred in the Kumasi Academy popularly called KUMACA. Four students reportedly died and more than 44 hospitalized. Parents, students and the general public became apprehensive following the announcement that preliminary investigations from the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research have ruled out meningitis which was initially thought to be the suspected cause of the outbreak. While the scientific procedures were being followed to unravel the cause of the outbreak, Ghanaians were all impatient to hear what the cause was rather than what it was not. The media space was also flooded with reports that a public figure had indicated that the students died of Ebola. Politicians equally waded into the discussion by trying to point accusing fingers at which party did not do right or that one party’s actions and inactions were the cause of the situation.

It took efforts of a team of health experts from Ghana Health Service, the World Health Organization and the School of Public Health, Legon and Veterinary Service to identify the cause of the outbreak and bring the disease under control to prevent further spread. H1N1 was first identified in 2009 to be caused by influenza type A group of viruses. The symptoms of H1N1 influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. The virus is transmitted from person to person through close contact.

Infection spreads mainly through droplet exposure of respiratory secretions from coughing or sneezing onto soft mucosal surfaces such as the nose, mouth, and eyes. It also spreads through contact with an infectious patient or a surface that is contaminated with secretions and subsequent self-inoculation of virus onto mucosal surfaces such as those of the nose, mouth, and eyes; and through small particle aerosols in the vicinity of the infectious individual. Transmission of influenza through the air over longer distances is, however, not usually common.
All respiratory secretions and bodily fluids, including diarrheal stools, of patients with H1N1 influenza are considered to be potentially infectious. Persons at risk for complications from influenza infection include pregnant women, the aged and people with chronic diseases such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes. Schools, Prisons and other institutionalized places are particularly at higher risk for disease outbreaks. Poor sanitary conditions and overcrowding are a common phenomenon in some of these institutions which facilitate disease outbreaks. Interestingly, the confined nature of these institutions make it less cumbersome to contain any outbreak and prevent widespread to the public.

Unfortunately, the public sometimes distract these natural quarantined environment and inadvertently jeopardize the health of others. Parents and guardians rush to the affected schools to pick their wards home. Parents become apprehensive and fear the worse may happen to their wards. These reactions are also fueled by inadequate public health knowledge, lack of trust for the systems put in place and an unquestioned spiritual connotations of sickness and ‘strange’ deaths in Ghanaian societies. Others have the conviction that their family doctors will better handle their wards when they are sent home. As emotionally plausible as these reactions may be, it makes control and prevention measures tedious. By the Public Health Act, ACT 851 2012,the Minister responsible for health, is the authorized person who shall, by executive instrument, declare a clearly defined area in which a communicable disease has occurred as an infected area, and may eventually order the evacuation of the infected area or otherwise. The Minister’s communication is often guided by information supplied him by the technocrats in health. This provision, therefore, makes it unlawful for anyone to forcefully remove a person from a place suspected to be under investigation for a suspected outbreak most especially when the disease is under control yet the cause is not yet unknown. It is feared that Ghana may be sitting on a time bomb for H1N1 epidemic judging from the fact that the school in which the outbreak was detected recently celebrated its 60th anniversary where people from all over the country attended the function.

It is somewhat refreshing to note that though people may harbour the organization longer before becoming sick, the usual incubation period is one to four days. Everyone should be health conscious especially as harmattan sets in. Flu – like symptoms are possible and affected persons should seek care from approved health facilities rather than resort to self - medication. Global warming and climate change has undoubtedly influenced disease dynamics all over the world and Ghana should brace itself for its share. Diseases which will hitherto not thrive and were virtually absent in parts of the country are now raring their ugly heads there.

Meningitis, which is one of the characteristics of hot and dry climatic regions like northern Ghana and parts of the Ashanti region is now drifting to south. Amidst the seemingly increasing number of disease outbreaks in second cycle institutions, there is the need to strengthen public health activities in the country. Ironically, in developing countries little attention is given to public health activities because the nation’s wellbeing in often measured using negative health indicators such as death rates, diseases and disabilities.

In Ghana, epidemiologists, who have the skills to predict, detect and curb outbreaks, have no career pathway in the Ghana Health Service. At the first Scientific Conference and 10th Anniversary of the Ghana Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme, speakers bemoaned the neglect of the huge potential of that critical human resource of the nation. There is the need for the government and other agencies to support the diagnostic institutions like the Reference and Research laboratories to ensure timely and accurate diagnosis of cause of disease outbreaks.

Public health departments should be well resourced to enable them conduct regular environmental assessment of schools and to also in collaboration with Food and Drugs Authority conduct periodic testing of food and water samples.

Prevention they say is better than cure.


NCCE’s guidelines on how to fight corruption

Hardly a day passes in Ghana, without a conversation or two about the canker corruption. It is therefore commendable for the National Commission For Civic Education, NCCE to produce guidelines through research on how corruption can be fought in Ghana. NCCE's survey on ''Public Perception on the State of Corruption, Public Accountability and Environmental Governance in Ghana comes at critical time, that government and its partners have decided to ensure that corruption is fought to the latter.

Systemic, institutional and political corruption and a perceived culture of tolerance as well as the lack of accountability and poor environmental management have become all been recognized as a drawback to Ghana's socio-economic development. That is why eliminating corruption in this nation is key and must be a concern to all.

NCCE's nationwide survey on corruption made some startling revelations. Ghanaians say men are more corrupt than women. Furthermore, more than ninety percent of Ghanaians interviewed agree that corruption is rife in the public sector .They also perceive corruption as stealing from national resources. Besides that, the mismanagement of state funds tops corruption in Ghana. These revelations cannot be described only as sad but obviously depressing. This situation definitely calls for urgent action from the powers that be to redeem Ghana from a disgraceful and dented image.

Interestingly, according to the NCCE survey most Ghanaians are aware that there are state institutions tasked with the responsibility of fighting corruption. The Ghana Police Service is one such institution, the Judiciary is also mentioned, Economic and Organized Crime Office, EOCO, as well as the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice. Sadly, there organizations are also perceived as corrupt by Ghanaians. NCCE's survey must therefore serve a wakeup call to the hierarchy of the state mandated institutions responsible for tackling corruption to ''tighten their boot straps''. Agreeably, perpetrators of corrupt acts are not sanctioned as expected in this country and therefore the act continuous unabated.

To curb corruption means the laws must work to serve as deterrence to others. This same must apply to environmental governance. Many laws have been enacted, policies formulated and international conventions ratified and if these have to be binding on Ghanaians, the responsible agencies must be empowered to be more effective and efficient. Past governments seem to have paid lip service to the quest to fight corruption. While NCCE is commended for its expose’ on Public Opinion of Corruption in Ghana, it is hoped that the recommendations are implemented to better Ghana. Above all, holding government accountable should be the responsibility of all.

To quote President Akufo Addo, ''Be citizens, not spectators.''

!!! Join the fight to curb corruption in Ghana!!!

By Rebecca Ekpe, a Journalist.

Homosexuality- An Affront To Human Dignity

Homosexuality, otherwise known as same sex union, is not only an affront to human dignity, but a practice abhorred by the Church, other religious bodies, as well as the traditional and customary values of the Ghanaian society. President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s response to an Aljazeera TV interview recently; that although homosexuality is not an issue on his government’s agenda, it is “bound to happen” has sparked simmering controversy in certain circles. The President made reference to England where homosexuality was not an issue until a coalition of pressure groups pushed for its laws to be changed to favor same sex marriages.

Thankfully, the President concedes that his response above does not negate the fact that the cultural values of our country abhor the gay and lesbian practices. Historically, obnoxious practices that once were frowned upon and detested by majority of people, got a few people to spark a debate; followed by lobbying and mounting pressure on their governments to amend and pass laws to allow these hitherto unacceptable behavior patterns and practices to gain roots and grow in society.

In ancient Rome, people’s lifestyles were very appalling to say the least. Homosexuality, bestiality and other forms of inhuman behavior and practices were the order of the day. Thankfully however, with the coming of the church to Rome, these appalling lifestyles changed for more humane ways of living. In the Western world, issues of gay rights were anathema many years ago, but now issues of gay rights have come to stay.

Regretfully, homosexuality is happening in our country, in our High Schools, universities and in some communities. We cannot therefore pretend that everything is fine without taking pragmatic steps to reverse the trend. It is for this reason that, a careful reflection on the President’s response gives a certain kind of caution and an agenda for the Christian community to wake up and intensify preaching and teaching of the Gospel, to get the lost (sinners) saved.

At the same time, other religious bodies and traditional leaders should join forces in tackling the issue head-on. These steps invariably help address the issue of homosexuality in the country.

Homosexuality was decriminalized when the church began to lose its impact on the community in Europe. So it is not enough for the church only to abhor the practice, but to continue to preach and teach Christ-like values to the lost. If the church loses its potency in this fight; the same sex union, like all other social vices, will gain credence in the country in the future and the spiritual implications cannot be fathomed. Christians and the other religious bodies should not be quick to condemn the president’s statement on homosexuality, but demonstrate love to sinners and homosexuals while helping them to come out of this sinful act. It is not the homosexuals who are not loved, but rather their sinful lifestyle which society abhors.

The President’s response therefore comes like the warnings of the Prophets of old to Israel against sin, which although the people disregarded; led to their captivity and destruction.

Hence, proponents of the practice should not be allowed to hide behind human rights to justify their abnormal practice in our country. The church should continue to speak against the practice, which the enemy seeks to use to destroy family values as originally designed by God in the Garden of Eden. The western world may have their different understanding of the repercussions of homosexuality. As long as the church, other religious bodies, and our customary practices abhor it, the practice should be vehemently resisted to prevent its negative effects on the land, as was the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

The future of our children and family values could indeed be compromised if we sit aloof and not contribute in helping people who for some unexplained reasons find themselves in this predicament. The church, other religious bodies, as well as our traditional leaders, the media, and all who detest homosexuality to join the fight through education, and assist people caught in the practice to change for the better. Government should also stand resolute to defend the religious and cultural values at all times without bowing to pressure from the international community on the issue of homosexuality.

Long live Ghana!God bless our homeland Ghana!