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Over 700,000 Ghanaians living with glaucoma – Association

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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.

Source: GNA

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Asukawkaw bridge is a death trap – Assembly

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Danger is looming at Asukawkaw in the Krachi East Municipality of the Oti Region following the gradual collapse of the Asukawkaw steel bridge.

Bolts and nuts of the over 30 year old bridge are weak, making the structure shaky with its metal plate top slippery and posing threat to motorists and other users.

Mr. Hope Gli, the Assemblyman for the area, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) said the dilapidated nature of the bridge is affecting socio-economic activities with many using remote tortuous alternative routes to access market centres and schools.

He said in September last year, a vehicle ran over a 13- year old girl who went to fetch water and slipped on the bridge.

Mr. Gli therefore appealed to the Ministry of Roads and Highway to rehabilitate the bridge in time.

Nana Gyemfi Jonas, Gyasehene of Asukawkaw, said the bad state of the bridge is a great worry to the people and asked the regional administration to prioritize its rehabilitation.

Mr. Patrick Chartey Jilima, Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Krachi East told GNA that the Assembly is aware of the situation and had reported it to the Regional Highway Authority who assured of plans to fix it.

Source: GNA

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Teenage Pregnancy in Upper East rises above national target

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Madam Rofina Asuru, the Upper East Regional Deputy Director of Nursing Services (DDNS) in charge of Public Health activities says the region has exceeded the national target of 12 per cent teenage pregnancy cases.

“We are doing higher than the national target of 12 percent. For the year 2018, we recorded a percentage of 15.8 of the proportion of pregnant women as teenagers who visited our health facilities.”

Madam Asuru disclosed this in an interview with the media in Bolgatanga on the sidelines of the Upper East Regional health sector performance review meeting for 2018.

She said the region is not doing too well to prevent teenagers from getting pregnant, and mentioned Talensi, Nabdam, Bongo, Builsa South, Bawku West and Kassena-Nankana West as Districts in the Region that contributed to the high percentage rate of the teenage pregnancies recorded.

Madam Asuru disclosed that, Nabdam District recorded 21 percent of teenage pregnancies, Bongo 20.6 percent, Builsa South 18.7 percent, Bawku West District 19.7 percent, and  Kassena-Nankana West recorded 16.6 percent.

“These are the Districts contributing to the high teenage pregnancy rates in our region.”

The review was on the theme: “Achieving Sustainable Development Goals for Maternal and Child Health – the Role of Technology.”

Asked why the prevalence was high in these Districts, the DDNS said it was partly because there were no opportunities in the rural areas compared to the urban ones.

“Families are poor, they are unable to support the education of their teenage girls, so, many of them will drop out of school and if they are not involved in any skilled training, the next thing is to get married,” she added.

Madam Asuru said there is the urgent need for an all inclusive approach to reversing the phenomenon. “Everybody should be involved, you the media is one partner that we look forward to educate people about the issues and what we can do collectively. I think we need to pay more attention to that.”

She observed that at the family level, parents were “chasing their daily bread, so they are not really taking care of the girls. Some parents leave home early, they come late, they do not even care to know what has happened in their absence.”

She entreated parents to be more responsible and take care of their children, especially the girls.

Madam Asuru described as “unfair criticisms” from some members of the public who blame the Ghana Health Services for not stepping up its mandate to educate the girls in basic schools on reproductive and family planning issues to avert the occurrences of teenage pregnancies.

“We have always tried. One challenge we have is with the Ghana Education Service (GES), they do not feel comfortable about we talking about contraceptive use for those who cannot abstain. We know that the children engage in sexual activities.”

Madam Asuru said from the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey, about 22 per cent of the population are within the age group of 10 to 19, “So if we have that cohort and they are not productive, you can see that with time we are just going to be a stint, because our future leaders are not going to get any better life.”

Source: GNA

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Ho West Assembly drops in project performance score

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The Ho West District Assembly has scored 66 per cent in the Citizens’ Assessment of Assemblies Project for 2018, dropping from 88 per cent in 2017.

This is contained in a document put together by Ghana’s Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms (GSAM) at a Town Hall Meeting in the Assembly to bring to the fore some projects of the Assembly and their levels of completion.

The scoring, which was done by the citizens and the Global Action for Women Empowerment (GLOWA), a Non-Governmental Organisation every year, targets and assesses two capital projects in a selected district under (GSAM) funded by the United States Agency International Development  (USAID).

The districts are assessed on Project Initiation and Planning (PIP), Contractor Selection and Contracting (CSC), Project Execution (PE), and Citizens’ Perception of Project Benefits (CPPB).

In 2017, the district scored 88 per cent for works done on its two unit kindergarten blocks with ancillary facilities at Holuta and a Community based Health Planning Services compound at Awudome Avenui.

The Assembly in 2018 was assessed based on the construction of a district fire service station at Dzolo Kpuita and the construction of a town council office at Awudome Tsito.

The fire station and town council were pegged at GH₵ 291, 995.76 and GH₵ 108,409.77 with a construction period of between April to September 2018 and November 2015 to July 2016 respectively.

They were all to be funded by the Ho West District Assembly with funding from the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) but the projects were at various stages of completion.

The Assembly was scored 63 per cent in PIP, 100 per cent in CSC, 27 per cent in PE and 75 per cent in CPPB.

In the Project execution analysis, it was scored on the basis of projects lagging behind or being stalled with the Assembly monitoring the projects periodically.

The Assembly scored a 100 per cent in capturing the projects in its 2018 procurement plan and a fair process in its award of the contracts.

On the way forward, the Assembly was advised to call the contractors to site as soon as funds were made available by June 2019, failure for which the contract would be abrogated and re-awarded.

The Assembly was also advised to make information on the projects readily available to the citizens and also brief contractors on the low scores.

The GSAM is a five-year social accountability project that seeks to strengthen citizens’ oversight of capital projects to improve local government transparency, accountability and performance in 100 districts across the country.

Source: GNA

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