Friday, February 16, 2007

'Drug Abuse Leads To Shorter Life Span'

By Stephen Kwabena Effah
Friday, 16 February 2007

Seventy per-cent of people who become drug abusers in their teens die by the age of 45, earlier than their normal lifespan, Dr. George Osei, Medical Director of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, has said.

He said those who are introduced to drugs after the age of 20 also have their lifespan reduced by 25 years.

Giving a talk at the Ngleshie Amanfro Secondary School in the Ga West District on the topic "Drug Abuse", he said the other 30 per cent of those introduced to hard drugs like cocaine and heroin also get complica-tions such as cancer and mental illness.

The programme was organised by the Parent Teacher Association of the school to educate the students on the effects of drug abuse.

Dr.Osei noted that about 30 per cent of the patients between 15 and 40 years at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital are there because of drug abuse.

"Drug abuse is having serious effects on the people engaged in it," he said, adding that drugs interfere with the function of the brain which brings a certain level of excitement and makes users think they are being helped.

Apart from the brain, he noted that hard drugs sometimes interrupt the normal function of the heart, kidney and the pancreas.

He advised the students to stay away from hard drugs and unprescribed drugs to avoid jeopardising their future. They should rather focus on their studies to become good and responsible citizens.

There was also a quiz on Ghana at 50 during which the students were asked questions ranging from political to economic history of Ghana.

Monday, February 12, 2007

‘Remove Parliamentary, A-GD Reps From Procurement Board’

By Stephen Kwabena Effah
Monday, 12 February 2007

AN economist, Kwame Pianim, has described the Public Procurement Act as "cumbersome," and called for the exclusion of representatives of Parliament and Attorney General’s Department from the Public Procurement Board.

He explained that representatives of the two institutions already have busy schedules, saying "these are all busy people, so to get them to review procurements is difficult.

"They are also not necessarily experts in procurement and so they should not be on the board," he said, in an interview with the Times after the opening of the third joint review meeting of the Private Sector Development Strategy and Action Plan in Accra last Friday.

This was in reaction to concerns raised by the participants on delays in the procurement processes.

He noted for instance that it could take an organisation about six months to go through the procurement processes to recruit an expert or acquire a vehicle.

He called for the removal of the cumbersome processes while ensuring that people remain accountable for their jobs.

Mr. Pianim, who was the chairman for the occasion, said representatives from Parliament and the A-G’s Department "are supposed to be doing some work that they do not even have time to do," stressing that their job is to make sure that rules and laws concerning businesses are done properly.

He said that Parliament, for example, represents the sovereign people of the country, and explained that when one misspend funds, it goes to the Public Accounts Committee, which has the time to investigate.

"You cannot be a hunter and also be one of the people being hunted" he said and added: "I don’t think we need the A-G and Parliament to be represented. Parliamen-tarians have no business to be on the Procurement Board."

"They supervise to ensure that things are done properly and should not be part of those recommending the expenditures," he said.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Elephantiasis, Oncho Alert !

By Stephen Kwabena Effah
Wednesday, 07 February 2007

AN estimated half of Ghana’s population is at risk of contracting elephantiasis and another four million of onchocerciasis.

This is because these people live in places where the vector and the parasite exist in the country, Professor John Gyapong, Director of Health Research and Management of the Neglected Tropical Diseases NTD of the Ghana Health Service, told newsmen in Accra yesterday.

He also noted that the majority of children in the country, have all kinds of intestinal worm; a situation which is affecting their performance in school.

Prof. Gyapong was speaking at a stakeholders meeting on NTD to discuss a two-year intervention programme developed by the USAID to eliminate NTD to a level that would no longer be public health significance in Ghana by 2015.

He described the NTD situation in Ghana as "pretty much alarming" and noted that the interventions had come at the right time that Ghana is making effort to address the situation saying "it will galvanize all these programmes to manage the situation"

He said NTDs disproportionately affect the health and ruin the lives of people in developing countries, noting "at least one billion people currently suffer from one or more of these diseases worldwide".

In Africa alone, schistosomiasis (bilharzia) affects at least 160 million people out of whom at least 30 million suffer permanent life-threatening complications, he said.

He said that human suffering represented by the figures is enormously greater than the 270 cases of avian influenza reported globally over the past three years yet the neglected tropical diseases are seen not to threaten international health and security.

He said the NTDs occur almost in impoverished populations, adding that the diseases flourish in areas where water supply and sanitation are inadequate, and insects and other disease vectors are constant household and occupational companions.

Prof.Gyapong explained that the consequences of the diseases go beyond severe damage to health.

He mentioned years of agricultural productivity,inefficient land use, food insecurity and missed days at school as some of the burden of NTDs.

The Director-General of Ghana Health Service, Professor Agyemang Badu Akosah, expressed regrets that parliamentarians are using their share of the district assembly’s common fund for infrastructure to the neglect of health problems in the districts.

He therefore appealed to them and district chief executives to use some of the fund for health interventions.

Dr.George Amofa, Director of Public Health, called for massive community investment to be able to make impact in the control of neglected tropical diseases.