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Remember to wash your hands with soap.

By James Harry Obeng

The past week has been exciting, following the successful launch of the manifesto of the National Democratic Congress [NDC]. Whereas some have touted the launch as much late in coming, considering the lead that the party took in electing its presidential candidate, the bigwigs in the party have also been in their elements, counteracting claims by their arch-opponents about their manifesto.

In fact, their colleagues in the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), led by the National chairman, Peter Mac Manu, are doubting the originality of the policy document and have accused the NDC of a more serious and dishonest form of “stealing”, known as plagiarism, without acknowledging or crediting the original source, that is, the NPP manifesto.

So the NDC would also prove beyond every recognizable doubt that Nana Akufo−Addo’s cosseted slogan “Moving Ghana forward” was rather plagiarized from the NDC as the cover page of the party’s 1996 manifesto attests to.

Interesting indeed! The million-dollar question now remains who is actually “stealing” whose ideas. That is politics as defined in Ghana for you. Anyway, it all adds to the beauty of democracy of which the country has become a model on the continent of Africa, and around the globe.

Now, join me in dissecting the importance of last Wednesday, October 15, to every Ghanaian. It was the Global Handwashing Day (GHD). But before I fully set in gear to write on this day, let me inquire from my readers if any have ever ate his feces or that of someone before. Excuse me for being impish today, but the fact remains that you may be eating something more than food.

This is because our hands often act as vectors that carry disease-causing pathogens from person to person, either through direct contact (like handshakes) or indirectly via surfaces. When not washed properly with soap, these hands that have been in contact with human or animal feces, bodily fluids like nasal excretions, and contaminated foods or water can transport bacteria, viruses and parasites to unwitting hosts. Already, medical research shows that a tiny gram of feces contain over thousand viruses and about ten thousand bacteria.

Washing hands with water alone is therefore not enough in dealing with disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Rather using soap works by breaking down the grease and dirt that carry most germs, facilitating the rubbing and friction that dislodge them and leaving hands smelling pleasant. The clean smell and feeling that soap creates are incentives for its use.

This however informs the relevance of the GHD which challenge is to transform hand-washing with soap from an abstract good idea into an automatic behaviour performed in homes, schools, and communities worldwide. Turning hand-washing with soap before eating and after using the lavatory into an ingrained habit among Ghanaians could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one quarter, according to Ms Theodora Adomako Agyei, of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA).

Hand-washing with soap would also make a significant contribution to meeting the Millenium Development Goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two thirds by 2015. Already, more than 3.5 million children do not live to celebrate their fifth birthday because of diarrhea and pneumonia. Research also shows that with proper use, soaps are effective at rinsing away disease-causing germs, preventing skin and eye infections, intestinal worms, SARS and Avian Flu as well as preventing the spread of diseases in overcrowded, highly contaminated slum environments.

In Ghana, the GHD aimed to raise awareness of the link between proper hand-washing with soap and the prevention of diarrheal and respiratory infections, focusing on school children as change initiators who would take messages back to their communities, though the involvement of everybody is required to make this objective materialize.

So as you go on with your routine daily activities, always remember the importance of washing your hands with soap by reflecting on these words of Ms Theodora; “Hand-washing with soap is the single most cost effective health intervention when compared with other frequently funded health intervention. A $3.35 investment in hand-washing brings the same health benefits as an $11.00 investment in latrine construction, a 200.00 investment in household water supply and an investment of thousands of dollars in immunization.”

Always, remember to wash your hands with soap before and after eating, and after visiting the toilet and encourage others, especially kids, to follow suit. Let us make a habit because it saves life!

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October 16, 2008 Posted by | Features | 1 Comment

African leaders must be good losers!

By James Harry Obeng

African politicians have been charged to learn to be “good losers” committed to imbibing peace and unity when they fail to clinch victory in elections.

Brother Emmanuel Aighalua, President of the God’s Kingdom Society (GKS), a church in Nigerian, who made the call, said it was becoming a common characteristic on the continent for politicians to resort to stirring violence and mayhem rather than peacefully conceding defeat in elections.

He however prayed that with the peace and tolerance that have marked the country’s democratic dispensation into a shinning example on the continent, she would have a successful presidential and parliamentary elections in December.

Bro. Aighalua made the admonition when he led a pastoral delegation of the church to pay a courtesy call on the deputy Minister of Information and National Orientation, Frank Agyekum, in Accra.

Among the delegation were Bro B.T. Hart, Publicity Secretary, Bro O.D. Akinwale, Financial Secretary, Messrs S.M.O Ayavoro, T.O. Esimogbele and Bro E.M.Oki, chairman of the Ecclesiastical Court of the Lord’s Ministry.

The delegation is in the country to commemorate the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ, named Freedom Day, slated for Sunday October 12, at the Accra Polytechnic campus.
It is the fourth of take place in Ghana since 2005.
The GKS believes that Jesus Christ was born in the month of October, contrary to December as generally by a larger section of Christendom.

Bro Aighalua noted that the current political atmosphere in the country which extolled calmness and contentment, were prerequisites for the conduct of peaceful general elections.

He advised competing politicians and political parties to exercise decorum and restraint in their campaign by not attacking the image of personalities, but rather tackle issues that would improve the lot of the country after the elections.

“Let’s trade more on issues and ideas rather than attacking opponents because elections are jaw-jaw and not war-war”, he said.

He urged the electorate to vote for God-fearing leaders who would ascend leadership to serve the interest of the country “and not to fill their pockets”.

He said the country’s religious community has a role to play in ensuring an incident-free election and called on them to “back their prayers with conscious education of their members on the rules on elections so that they will not be used by some politicians to cause violence”.

Welcoming the delegation to his office, Agyekum assured the group of the government’s support in ensuring a successful Freedom Day celebration, and tasked them to back the efforts of the country to have successful elections in December through their prayers.

October 16, 2008 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

“Let’s emphasise education

By: James Harry Obeng,

An Islamic educationist, Abubakar Mohammed, has appealed to the leadership of the muslim community to place emphasis on the educational needs of the muslim youth in the country instead of fighting over matter of less significance to detriment at their development and spiritual growth.

He said there was the need to supplement the efforts of existing public and private educational facilities in the country in absorbing the chunk of the Muslim youth who are desirous to pursue higher education for a better future.

“Most of the time people paint the wrong impression about us, as being violent because most of our youth are always found engaging in unproductive ventures without working to secure their future”, said Mr. Mohammed, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Central Muslim Youth Development Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), in an interview with the Times on Friday.

Mr. Mohammed who is also the proprietor of Amibs Academy of Arts and Designs at Kasoa, urged muslim leaders to work towards the establishment of second-cycle institutions and universities to help in educating the youth for a better future.

“We must also work hard to set up scholarship schemes to sponsor our muslim brothers and sisters who want to be in the classrooms, most especially the brilliant but needy ones”, he said.

Touching on this year’s Hajj to Mecca, Mr. Mohammed implored the Chief Immam, Sheik Nuhu Sharabutu, and the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, to broker understanding and peace among muslims.

“It is unfortunate that the organisation of the pilgrimage in recent years has been dogged with problems. “Whatever be the case, we must remember that we are one people following the footprints and teachings of one leader whose life extolled peace and understanding”, the educationist stated.

To this end, he urged Muslim youth to always concentrate on building successful careers that would transform their future for the better, and also cautioned them to dissociate themselves from any politician whose aim is to use them for wrongful acts.

October 16, 2008 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

“Wash your hands with soap” – school children appeal to colleagues

By James Harry Obeng

 

School children in the Accra metropolis have made passionate appeal to the Ghanaian public, especially their fellow children, to make handwashing with soap a habit to help cut down on diarrhoeal and respiratory infections among children in the country.

 

Their messages were carried in various chorographical sketches and poetry recitals at a media interaction programme organized by the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), prior to the Global Handwashing Day (GHD), slated for October 15, next week.

 

The children were drawn from selected basic and Junior High Schools (JHS), including the Ministry of Health Basic School, Association International School, Mamprobi Sempe JHS, Services JHS, and the University of Ghana Basic School, to gather at the Teachers (GNAT) New Conference Hall Complex in Accra, last Tuesday.

 

The school children stated that washing hands with water alone was less effective in preventing diarrhoeal and respiratory infections in children like pneumonia, dysentery, choler and diarrhea, among many other diseases.

 

Rather, they explained that handwashing with soap would make a significant contribution as the country advances to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds by 2015.

 

They said washing ones hands with water and soap was important in breaking down the grease and dirt that carry most germs by facilitating the rubbing and friction that dislodge them, leaving hands smelling pleasant.

 

They said research had shown that most children do not live to celebrate their fifth birthday because of diarrhea and pneumonia, adding that “diarrhea diseases and pneumonia together kills almost four million children under the age of five in developing countries each year”.

 

They, however, urged Ghanaians pay proper attention to washing their hands with soap, especially after visiting the lavatory, to safeguard their personal health and hygiene.

 

Presenting an overview of the Handwashing program, Ms. Theodora Adomako Agyei, of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency, said hygiene and sanitation issues were under – reported in Ghana.

 

She said the challenge of the Global Handwashing Day 2008 was to transform handwashing with soap from an abstract good idea into an automatic behavior performed in homes, schools, and communities nationwide.

 

The Global Hand washing Day (GHD), slated for Wednesday, October 13, next week, will be the centerpiece of a week of activities that will mobilize millions of people in more than 20 countries across five continents to wash their hands with soap.

 

The major objective of the GHD in Ghana is to raise awareness of the link between proper handwashing with soap and the prevention of diarrhea and respiratory infections, as well as use school children as change initiators who would take messages back to their communities.    

October 10, 2008 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Don’t hijack our roles! – NSS Boss

By James Harry Obeng

 

THE Executive Director of the National Service Scheme, Mr. Kofi Obiri Yeboah, has warned organisations and institutions to desist from hijacking the core functions of the scheme through practices he referred to as “the conduct of aptitude tests” by some companies.

 

The conduct of aptitude tests, according to him, is the practice where, in attempt to secure into their fold the cream of service personnel, certain institutions and organisations go round universities and polytechnics to recruit would-be personnel, prior to their posting by the National Service Secretariat.

 

Mr Obiri Yeboah said this in Accra last Monday at a press briefing to highlight on the release of the 2008/09 National Service posting, starting Wednesday.

 

He said by Act 426, it was only the National Service Scheme that has the mandate to recruit service personnel, saying that conducting aptitude tests is illegal.

 

Mr. Obiri Yeboah advised organisations to submit proposals for national service personnel to the National Service Scheme, indicating the number and qualification of personnel needed.

 

He announced that 34,000 national service personnel have been posted to all regions in the country for 2008/09, on a monthly payment of GH ¢ 144.38.

 

He said in pursuant of government’s policy of providing quality education for Ghanaians, between sixty and seventy per cent of the service personnel have been posted to the educational sector so as to meet shortfall in the supply of teachers to the rural areas.

 

The remainder, he noted, were distributed to the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA), District Assemblies and the private sectors.

 

Mr. Obiri Yeboah, however, gave the regional distribution of the 2008/09 posting as follows; Ashanti 5640, Brong-Ahafo 2667, Central 2080, Eastern 2871, Northern 1571, Upper West 710, Upper East 698, Volta 1571, Western 2690, and the Greater Accra Region 10,988.

 

He reminded service personnel to accept posting in good faith, saying “remember that it is a call to national duty, and posting should never be seen as a form of punishment when one is serving his nation”.

 

He entreated service personnel for 2008/09 to access their postings via the website of the scheme – www.nssghana.org

   

 

 

October 10, 2008 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Jesus was born in October – says GKS Prez.

By James Harry Obeng

 

The President of the God’s Kingdom Society (GKS), Bro Emmanuel O. Aighalua, has advised politicians in the country to shun mudslinging their political opponents in their quest to assume various political offices, come December 7.

 

He said politicians should, whilst dwelling their campaign on tackling issues, see themselves as one people who hold different ideas to be put in place in ensuring the betterment of the country.

 

Bro. Aighalua gave the admonition when he led a delegation of pastors of the GKS, a church headquartered in Nigeria, to interact with editors of the New Times Corporation (NTC), including Mr Enimil Ashon, acting editor of the Ghanaian Times, and Messrs John Ackom Asante and Merari Alormele, deputy and acting editors, respectively, of the Spectator, last Wednesday.

 

The delegation is in the country to commemorate the birth anniversary (aka Freedom Day) of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, on Sunday, October 12, at the Accra Polytechnic campus. The event which is the fourth of its kind to come off in Ghana since 2005, will also afford the opportunity to the general public to ask questions pertaining to the church and its activities, especially its belief that the birth of Jesus Christ occured in the month of October, contrary to December as believed by sections of Christendom.

 

Bro Aighalua said competing politicians and political parties in this years general elections, slated for December 7, should readily respect the views of voters by accepting the outcome of the elections without stirring violence, citing Jeremiah 17:11 and Proverbs 22:1 to back his advise.

 

He implored Ghanaians to vote wisely in selecting a God-fearing leader who would ascend leadership to serve his people and consolidate the peace and tranquility that has established the country as a shining example of democracy in Africa.

 

“Vote wisely for leaders who will not come to fill his or her pockets”, he said, adding that it was important that Ghanaians took a cue from recent political happenings in Zimbabwe and Kenya.

 

Bro Aighalua also entreated the religious community in the country to back their prayers for successful general elections with conscious education of their followers on the rules and regulations governing the conduct of the polls in order to forestall unsuspecting Ghanaians from being hoodwinked into electoral malpractices.

 

He was full of gratitude to the New Time Corporation, particularly the Spectator, for consistently devoting pages to covering its message of propagating the word of God, and wished the paper sustained its coverage on religious activities in the country.

 

For his part, Enimil Ashon, editor of the Ghanaian Times, said newspapers under the NTC offered a marketplace for varying religious indoctrinations to reach its readers, and therefore assured them of the papers continual coverage of religious issues in the country.

 

Among the delegation were Bro E.M.Oki, chairman of the Ecclesiastical Court of the Lord’s Ministry, Bro B.T. Hart, publicity secretary, Bro O.D. Akinwale, financial secretary, Messrs S.M.O Ayavoro, T.O. Esimogbele, and Bro Adam, ministers in charge of the River State, Lagos State and Accra branches of the church, respectively.

October 10, 2008 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Spio-Garbrah urges journalists to scrutinise gov’t

By James Harry Obeng

 

Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, has urged the media to scrutinise practices of government that tend to place the security of the nation under threat.

 

He said although government was claming it was on top of security prior to this year’s  general elections, there were still critical areas of national security that have been compromised.

 

He said the decision by government to engage the services of a Chinese company to design and construct national projects like the Presidential Palace and the Ministry of Defence posed grievous threat to national security, “even if loans were secured from them for those projects.”

 

Dr Spio-Garbrah, said these on Wednesday, when he presented an amount of GH¢4,000 towards the campaign activities of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) at the party’s headquarters in Accra.

 

This was shortly after a brief press conference by the party to dismiss what it described as falsehoods peddled by the government, in the run up to the presidential and parliamentary elections

 

Mr Fiifi Kwetey, the party’s National Propaganda Secretary, told the journalists that all was set for the party and its presidential candidate, Prof. John E. A, Mills, to officially launch the its manifesto today, Saturday, October 4.

 

Mr Kwetey said the manifesto would go a long way in helping the party to wrestle power from the NPP government, saying it embodied the ‘real’ needs of Ghanaians.

 

Mr Kwetey said Prof. Mills  was contesting  the Presidency to serve Ghanaians in truth and honesty, adding   NPP have failed on its promises made to Ghanaians.

 

He, said promises being bandied around by the NPP and its presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, that it would make education free at the senior high school (SHS) level was untenable.

 

Fiifi Kwetey urged Ghanaians to rally behind the NDC to salvage the country from the quagmires of  the economic doldrums and social despondency within which the country currently finds itself.

 

Executives present include, Mr Eddie Annan, a businessman, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, the deputy General Secretary in charge of operations, and Mr Kobby Akyeampong, of the party’s campaign team.

 

October 8, 2008 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Ahmadis mark Eid-Ul-Fitr

By James Harry Obeng

 

THE Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission of Ghana is confident the country is capable of organising an incident- free presidential and parliamentary polls, come December 7.

 

The mission stated its position at a congregational prayer held to mark Eid-Ul-Fitr at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Conference Centre (Bustan-E-Ahmad), Ashongman in Accra last Tuesday. The prayers were to usher the country towards the December polls.

 

It noted that despite vestiges of political battles recorded in parts of the country, especially in Northern Ghana, there still existed among political parties of the country a level of co-peration and understanding “which is rare in other African countries”.

 

It said the existence of the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) was a step towards sustaining tolerance in the run up to the polls.

 

The Mission cautioned Ghanaians to eschew foul talk and evil deeds that could plunge to the elections into disorder, and urged religious bodies to back their prayers with constant education of their followers to observe the rules and regulations that govern the conduct of elections in the country.

 

Preaching the sermon, Maulvi A. Wahab Adam, the Ameer (Head) and Missionary-in-Charge of the Mission explained that practices that constituted foul talk included the use of “abusive and inflammatory language, recrimination and incitement, and also blatant falsehood” while evil deeds “include registration of minors and aliens, selling and buying of votes and intimidation of voters.”

 

He said “if all the institutions entrusted with the grave responsibility of conducting smooth elections approach their respective duties impartially, responsibly, and firmly, realising that after the elections, we all need Ghana in one piece and not in pieces, then there is no reason why we cannot have successful elections in December this year, Inshallah.”

 

He said it would amount  to usurping the constitutional responsibility of the Electoral Commission (EC) should any party to announce election results once the polls were over, and urged all stakeholders in the country to accept the results of this year’s elections to be declared by the EC without threatening mayhem or opposition.

 

Maulvi Wahab Adam explained that Eid-Ul-Fitr is celebrated by Muslims all over the world to mark the end of fasting in the month of Ramadhan in obedience to the command of Allah as stipulated in Qur’an 2:184-186.

 

He said as one of the five pillars of Islam, Ramadhan has the primary objective of instilling in Muslims discipline, self-control, tolerance and above all, the spirit of repentance, magnanimity and goodwill towards all people.

 

He advised Muslims, particularly the youth, to exercise restraint, self-control and avoid hooliganism that could threaten the political equilibrium of the country as the December polls draw near.

 

 

October 8, 2008 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Golden Tulip to host 1st Timber Industry Awards

By James Harry Obeng

 

The Golden Tulip Hotel in Kumasi will come November 29, next month, play host to the first-ever Timber Industry Awards, exactly a century after the introduction of formal forestry practice in the country.

 

Themed “100 years of Forestry; Projecting Excellence in a complex and challenging industry”, the awards will honour key players and stakeholders who, among other things, have contributed to the growth and development of the Timber Trade and Industry in the country.

 

The Forestry Commission of Ghana (FCG), the organizers, will also use the event to take stock of its activities, achievements and challenges as well as map out strategies for the future.

 

The categories to be awarded are the Overall Best Exporter, Best Buyer (tertiary products), Best Shipping Company, Best Bank (banking services), the Most Innovative Company, the Most Integrated Company and, the Best Exporter (mouldings).  

 

The rest are the Best Supplier to the Domestic Market, Best Producer (logs), Best Exporter (LUS products), Best Exporter (furniture parts), Best Exporter (plywood), Best Exporter (veneers), and Best Exporter (lumber KD), amongst other individual and institutional awards.

 

At a Press launch in Accra, last Thursday, to brief the media about the ensuing event, the Executive Director of the Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) of the Forestry Commission of Ghana (FCG), Alhaji Alhassan Attah, said the criteria to select the right awardees to ensure transparency and fairness in the process have been set to enable the jury come out with the right choice for the awards.

 

He said the institution of the awards was imperative to honour companies and individuals who have shown commitment to quality and outstanding leadership in the industry, adding “it will provide a basis to encourage high standard for best practices in the industry and help enhance the image of the Forestry sector, particularly the timber industry.”

 

He said despite challenges confronting the FCG in pursuit of its assigned responsibilities, it had still paid its due towards national development.

 

Alhaji Attah noted that “the industry has stayed as major foreign exchange earner and a source of employment in the economy over the last century, with figures rising and averaging around 180 million US dollars annually”.

 

In a speech read on her behalf, the Minister for Lands, Forestry and Mines, Ms Esther Obeng Dapaah, said government has over the last seven years shown commitment to ensuring an effective management and control of forest resources.

 

As a result, she said, government has initialed between the country and the European Union the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to ensure that only legal timber was granted access to the EU markets.

 

“The VPA will further ensure that Ghana’s forest laws are consistent, understandable, enforceable and supportive of basic sustainable forest management principles”, she said, adding that it would also help the country to develop credible technical and administrative systems that ensured that harvesting operations conform to relevant laws “and to track timber from the point of harvest to the point of export|”.

 

She said the importance of the VPA as a vital step in eliminating illegal logging and export of wood products from illegitimate sources was colossal, saying the EU would be working with government to minimize and eventually eliminate problems caused by illegal logging.

 

Ms Dapaah implored the forestry industry to be highly competitive and conform to standards to make the intention of government to make the country the hub of tertiary processing of wood products in the sub region a reality.

 

She described the institution of the Timber Awards as a timely initiative to bolster the image of the industry and pledged her ministry’s support towards ensuring a successful event in Kumasi, come November 29.

October 8, 2008 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Headmistress shows gratitude

By James Harry Obeng.

 

With the motto “striving for the best” vindicated on the day, attendees who swamped the Light of the World School at Weija for the school’s  graduation ceremony last Friday saw nothing weird and ill-premised about the ‘style’ with which Mrs. Esther Hamilton, the headmistress, celebrated the day. Rather, they joined in it. 

 

Not even the sight of the invited dignitaries and students who had inundated the campus for the ceremony could prevent the headmistress from lying prostrate on the ground as a sign of showing gratitude to God for bolstering the performance of the school in the 2008 Basic Education Certificate Education {BECE} examination.

 

And as if the all–white apparel which she wore for the ceremony was also nothing to worry about, the headmistress rolled, rolled and rolled umpteen times on the ground in what counts as uncharacteristic of graduation ceremonies yet to be replicated elsewhere, though enthralled attendees and graduands stood and clapped in admiration, having surrounded her.

 

The reason underlying the euphoric celebration was however not far fetched; Out of the 69 students presented by the school for the BECE examinations, 51 clocked up aggregates six — made up by grade ones in all ten subjects of study — with the remaining least impressive scores ranging between aggregates seven and eleven.

 

The event graduated the sixty-nine students amidst incessant jubilation interspersed with pomp and pageantry.

 

Explaining the rationale behind her celebration in an interview with the Spectator, Mrs. Hamilton said following the school’s ranking as the 28th best Junior High School (JHS) in the 2007 nationwide BECE, she rolled once on the ground and promised God to do more of it “if He helps us to come out with impressive aggregates in subsequent exams”.

 

She indicated it was therefore not out of any unexplained reason that she decided to bury herself onto the ground, but to show her gratitude and appreciation to God for the blessings showered on the school.

 

She noted with such impressive records chalked by the school in external examinations and other extra-curricula activities, the school’s enrolment have shot up significantly from kindergarten to the JHS level, pegging the current numerical strength of the school at 1,100.

 

Describing the school as a Christian-based facility that placed emphasis on discipline and the holistic religious training of students, Mrs. Hamilton announced the school was planning to establish a senior high school (SHS) in the next three years to come, ten years after its establishment. 

 

October 8, 2008 Posted by | News | Leave a comment