National statistics on glaucoma indicates that over 700,000 Ghanaians are living with glaucoma, of which 60,000 have already gone blind.
Mr. Harrison Kofi Abutiate, National President of the Glaucoma Association of Ghana, who made this known at the press launch of the annual World Glaucoma Week in Accra on Wednesday said, half of the patients did not know they had the disease.
He said the current state of glaucoma in the country is unacceptable.
However, he said there is hope because Ghana is gradually winning the war against Glaucoma, as more people are now reporting in health care facilities across the country for testing, diagnoses and treatment of the disease.
He said the progress made, so far, is an indication of the positive impact created by the persistent awareness campaigns by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and its partners over the years.
Mr. Abutiate however said, the success story is being deterred by the high cost of treatment for glaucoma, and commended the government for heeding to the Association’s request for the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on the cost of glaucoma drugs.
Mr Abutiate pleaded that the move should be extended to affect all medications, equipment and consumables for the holistic management and eradication of the disease.
Glaucoma is an eye condition distinguished by a loss of vision resulting from damage to the optic nerve, due to the difficulty in maintaining a normal flow of fluid through the eye, and this results in a rise of the pressure inside the eye which, could damage the optic nerve leading to irreversible blindness.
He said the World Glaucoma Week would be commemorated nationally on the theme: “Green-Go Get Your Eyes Tested for Glaucoma: Save your Sight.”
Activities for the Week include radio and television talk shows, free public eye screening at the Osu Ebenezer Presbyterian Church on Saturday, March 16, 2019, from 0900 to 1400 hours, as well as in various health facilities and communities across the country.
He said the annual awareness creation and outreach programmes by stakeholders involve in eye care, has gone a long way to arrest what would have been an “epidemic” in the country.
Mr Abutiate commended the stakeholders including the Ministry of Health (MOH), the National Eye Care Secretariat, Ophthalmological Society of Ghana (OSG), Optometrist Association of Ghana, Ghana Ophthalmic Nurses Group, Rotary Clubs, and Lions Club for the support.
Mr Abutiate said family history, aging, short sightedness and increased pressure in the eye are major risk factors, but most cases do not have any symptoms at the initial stages, which makes early reporting of all eye diseases as critical as regular or annual screening.
He said glaucoma continued to be the leading cause of irreversible blindness globally, second to cataract, and undoubtedly, Ghana is one of the highest-ranking countries in the world affected.
Global awareness remained the biggest contribution towards the provision of appropriate education, he said, and appealed to the media and private sector to support the awareness creation and the sustenance of free public eye screening for early detection, diagnoses and treatment.
Ms Tina Mensah, the Deputy Minister of Health, who launched the Week, said an estimated 900,000 Ghanaians would be living with glaucoma by 2020 and more would become blind from the condition.
She said the rising statistics is worrying and called for improvement in data capture and strengthened partnerships for glaucoma prevention.
“We need to strengthen Primary Health Care management of eye care to enable us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and reduce glaucoma, which needed urgency, purpose and leadership,” she said, adding that government had promised to make that work.
She urged all eye care facilities in the country to open their doors to the public for free screening and refer to appropriate specialists for treatment.
Dr Naamuah Tagoe, a Consultant Optometrist at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, and Chairperson of the Ophthalmological Society of Ghana, said an estimated 76 million people, globally, were suffering from glaucoma as at 2015, with nearly three million of them going blind, and this was an alarming increase of about 20 million since 2010.
The figure, she said, had risen to nearly 80 million people worldwide with glaucoma, out of which close to 11 million are already blind, and “eight out of every 100 Ghanaians aged 30 years and above, and nine of every 100 Ghanaians, aged 40 years and above, having glaucoma”.
She said the OSG would continue its partnership with the Glaucoma Patient’s Association to champion the cause of eliminating challenges including the late presentation by patients due to low awareness and the silent nature of the disease (painless loss of vision).
Also contributing are the high cost of treatment, distance to health care facilities for treatment, abuse of drugs (steroids), and the low acceptance of glaucoma surgery despite its proof as one of the most effective treatment options in Africa.
Dr Tagoe urged the Government to add more effective glaucoma drugs onto the National Standard Drug List and set up a Body within the MOH to champion awareness as country could be sitting on a “Blindness Time Bomb”.
She said the prevalence of glaucoma could only be held in check through improved screening and effective treatment strategies.
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Tullow Oil plans $250m investment in Ghana operations
Tullow Oil plans to spend $250 million dollars in Ghana this year to expand operations with more to come in future as the company intensifies its drilling campaign.
Group Chief Executive, Paul Mcdade said the company is keen to explore further in Ghana both around its current assets and in new license via Ghana’s inaugural Licensing Bid Round.
“We are keen to grow our business in Ghana and look forward to higher production and increased resources at Jubilee and TEN and the results of the on-going Licensing Bid Round,” he said.
Mr McDade said Tullow had also adopted a new dividend policy to pay shareholders at least $100 million annually.
Tullow has resumed payment of Dividend in 2018 after a four-year break, paying $67 million as dividend to its shareholders for the year 2018.
Mr Mcdade said the decision to now pay dividend annually was because of the company’s strong financial performance despite oil price volatility.
“We suspended the dividend, but over the last few years, we have worked very hard to get the company working very well and very profitable.
And when we got to the end of 2018, we decided that we were back in very good financial health and therefore we could reinstate the dividend.”
Tullow Oil recorded revenue of $1.9 billion for 2018, while profit after tax stood at $85 million.
Meanwhile, Mr Kweku Andoh Awotwi, Managing Director of Tullow Ghana, has been promoted to Executive Vice President of Tullow Oil plc, following a reorganization of the Group structure.
The Tullow Ghana Business, which was formerly part of Tullow’s West Africa Business, is now a standalone business under the new Group structure, a reflection of Tullow Ghana’s importance within the Group.
Mr Awotwi is now a member of the Tullow Group Executive Team, which runs the company day-to-day and would be directly involved in all executive matters, while retaining full oversight of Tullow Ghana.
This is the first time that Tullow Ghana’s leader has been part of Tullow’s Executive leadership.
Tullow’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul McDade said, “I am delighted to welcome Kweku to Tullow’s Executive Team, where he will provide a strong voice and leadership for our Ghana business. We will also benefit from his extensive experience across a range of industries in Africa and the US. This change also recognizes Tullow Ghana’s importance to our Company’s structure.”
Chairman of the Tullow Ghana and Group Advisor, Africa Business, Ike Duker, said, “Kweku’s appointment is very positive news and reflects recognition of the materiality and maturity of our Ghana business, and further demonstrates the pioneering role Tullow has played in the development of Ghana’s Oil and Gas industry. It also fulfils a key element of Tullow’s Africanization agenda, a journey we embarked upon about a decade ago.”
Kweku Awotwi, Tullow Ghana MD and Executive Vice President, said, “I am looking forward to not only representing Tullow Ghana as part of Tullow’s Executive Team, but also taking part in the wider leadership and management of Tullow.”
He added, “Tullow Ghana has a bright future as we look to increase oil and gas production from Jubilee and TEN, explore for new hydrocarbons and continue to play a leading role in Ghana’s fast-growing oil and gas industry.”
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Malaria control to be derailed without support to Global Fund
The need to step up domestic and international financing to fight malaria and also support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, would be the focus of stakeholders at the 6th Global Fund Replenishment Conference, scheduled for October this year, in France.
Currently an additional $1.4 billion and more is expected to be raised between now and 2020 to finance various aspects of malaria control.
Mr Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, referring to his background as a banker and also the urgent need to fund malaria, said there is a compelling moral and economic reason to get rid of malaria.
Mr Sands was speaking at a ministerial session on malaria at the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva, which was on theme: “Malaria: stepping up the fight to reach 2030 objectives”.
He explained that there are threats hanging over the malaria control efforts, therefore, there is urgent need to sustain malaria financing.
According to him, because of emerging threats such as insecticide and drugs resistance there is the need to make use of current tools to fight the disease, while researching for new ones to help solve potential threats and rein in malaria.
Mr Sands said the Global Fund is focusing on the malaria elimination agenda, helping the 11 countries with the highest malaria burden and ensuring that both international and domestic financing of the disease are sustained.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), addressed the gathering on malaria elimination milestones in the context of achieving the SDGs.
He used the occasion to also congratulate Argentina and Algeria for having been recently officially certified by WHO as malaria-free.
Both Dr Mohamed Miraoui, Minister of Health, Population and Hospital Reform of Algeria and Dr Miriam Burgos, Under-Secretary for Prevention and Control of Communicable and Vaccine-Prevention Diseases of the Ministry of Health of Argentina, spoke briefly on political engagement in malaria elimination.
By Eunice Menka, back from Geneva, Switzerland
Copyright ©2019 by Creative Imaginations Publicity
All rights reserved. This article or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in reviews.
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Government is determined to implement market friendly policies – Energy Minister
Mr John-Peter Amewu, Minister of Energy, says government is determined to formulate and implement market friendly policies to make Ghana competitive.
He said as a Government committed to private sector development, we are prepared to change course. “This is particularly important because oil and gas projects have become very expensive, upstream investments are not increasing faster, and the threat of the green revolution to the prospects of hydrocarbon based economic development, have led us to reconsider our strategy for the accelerated growth of our oil and gas industry,” he said.
The Minister said this in an address at an Oil and Gas Legislative Review Stakeholders meeting held in Accra on Friday to examine a new strategy and to collate views of stakeholders in order to speed up growth of the Oil and Gas Industry.
He said the strategy would pave way for a review of the existing regulatory frameworks and practices, and would include the development of new regulations and amendments of some provisions.
“These changes will ensure that the regulations are aligned to our policies and strategies. Laws must be informed by policies and strategies and not the other way. Therefore, with an evolving industry and changing policies, our laws must be effectively responsive,” he added.
Mr Amewu noted that Ghana’s Oil and Gas Industry had grown in size and in activity from a long period of zero rig to about four rigs, working at the same time to determine the potential of the basins.
“In terms of the fiscal impact, we have seen growth from 1,400 barrels per day in 2009/10 to 214,000 barrels per day in 2019,” he added.
He stated that many Ghanaians had been impacted through employment opportunities and service contracts, adding that, the country now largely used gas for most of the electricity generated, hence the industry’s value addition to the economy had been well established.
The Minister, however, said the Oil and Gas Industry continued to face significant challenges and risks, adding that, basins were largely not de-risked.
According to him, significant data gaps and low data quality still existed, and many companies continued to site the industry’s fiscal regime as disincentives.
“As a country, we have concerns about the operations of industry players, and therefore our policies and regulations have been designed to maximize value for the country and our people,” he added.
Mr Amewu assured stakeholders and potential investors that Government was willing to travel the journey of providing laws that supported the growth of the industry.
‘‘Industry legislation and regulatory institutions must exist to facilitate growth of the industry, not become constraints on its potential; attract credible investors, not scare them away; and improve on the application of advanced technology, not maintain the status quo,” he said.
Government will do everything possible to reposition our oil industry to take its rightful place in the competitive oil market; and increase the contributions of the oil industry to the overall growth of the Ghanaian economy,” he added.
He said government’s desire to improve on the investment climate for the oil industry was mainly to provide certainty and predictability to investors, and to reward investors that were willing to invest and meet their work obligations.
However, this should not be misconstrued to mean that government is going to give away freebies but that the ministry is opened to work with investors that obeyed the rule of law governing the sector’s operations.
Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, Deputy Minister in charge of Petroleum, said the event was significant in moving from current policies and approaches to formulating new plans to boost development of the growing sector.
Deputy Minister in charge of Finance and Infrastructure, Mr Joseph Cudjoe, expressed optimism that the objectives for the consultation would be achieved, to set the roadmap for further inputs for the regulatory framework in the sector.
The meeting brought together participants, including International Oil Companies, indigenous companies, investors, regulatory authorities, civil society organizations, the media and other key players in the oil and gas sector.
Companies present were Tullow Ghana, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Cosmos Energy, Petroleum Commission and Exxon Mobil.
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