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18.01.2006 Feature Article

Prevention is better than cure

Prevention is better than cure
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The report on “Media urged to play Advocacy role to promote new malaria drug” that was published in the Ghana website on December 13, 2005 is worth thoughtful consideration

It is quite interesting to learn that at last Ghanaians are more eagerly pursuing a way in finding a lasting solution to health and environmental problems.

In his address, Dr. Asare, the Ashanti Regional Director of Health said “If by magic the incidence of malaria infection is reduced through your (the media) reportage, the economy will improve and the burden on our hospitals would also be reduced.”

Doctor Asare knows very well that there is no magic in science. Mere promoting a drug is not the solution to reduce malaria infection. Do Ghanaians feel comfortable to live with mosquitoes? I do not think so. I will rather ask Dr. Asare and his team to find the root cause of malaria in the Ghanaian community. Then come out with a strategy to enforce rules and regulations to eradicate malaria rather than promoting a drug to fight it. There is too much speaking, meetings, workshops and seminars but very little is done in terms of enforcing what has been written on paper with no accountability.

There was a great deal of expectation for a better future as all looked to the NPP Government for a change after it took office in 2001. Today as we look back, there has been some improvement yet not enough to boast off. The situation today is far better than Mr. Rawlings era where people lived in fear of being killed in the name of purifying the country. Some were mission and some people's properties that were imported into the country were forcibly taken by government officials.

My burden is not to dwell on the past but to effectively help to repair the damage. There is hope if we actively and profitably utilize the wisdom, the brains and the uncountable resources God has given to mother Ghana.

One sad things is that, we leave these precious resources in the hands of selfish and greedy officials and foreigners to waste them while we standby watching and even helping them to hide their stolen treasures and thereafter we sadly say, “ we leave everything to God”. We then turn to the Bible and pray for God to help us. What a joke? Are we serious with God? These days we do not hear much about fetish priests but “churches”. The easiest way to make money now is to form a “church”. God has stopped raining manna from heaven. He has given us brains and hands to work with. Let us use the precious resources God has given us to save Ghana.

It looks like God has installed electricity in our homes and we pray to him for light while we watch the switch.

We should all be aware that “there is nothing like free lunch”. No country will help Ghana if it does not serve that country's interest. Let us help ourselves.

Any developed country is built on a strong constitution and a powerful law enforcement agency that makes sure all and sundry are law-abiding citizens. The laws that are made by the government are not only to protect the citizens but also among other things to create jobs.

One basic problem in the Ghana infrastructure is the lack of citizenship ID and House numbers. This is too serious. How can you take care of people you do not know or do not know where they live? How can the financial institutions come out with a well-structured credit system to promote jobs and Real Estate business? No doubt some banks do not have money to serve their customers. Money circulation is done in bags and even polythene bags in millions of cedis. People cue at the banks for hours for their monies to be counted. Some cedi notes are as dirty as pigs shit. There is no better way of collecting internal revenue. The government gold mine is well centered at the ports. Officials and the rich get away with crimes, corruption and mismanagement of public funds. Government officials live above their means and there is no way to vet them. Mr. President, you are fighting a loose battle if this citizenship ID problem is not solved.

Another biggest problem that has rendered Ghana and most part of Africa under developed is the unsanitary conditions in which they live in. This unsanitary condition is costing Ghana billions of dollars each year. I suggest Dr. Asare should look into this more closely.

Poor sanitation has directly or indirectly crippled the Ghanaian economy. It has eaten into the very lives of Ghanaians that to live in such a poor environment is an acceptable condition.

Let us look into Public Planning,

It is very sad to see our cities, towns and villages' being eroded into the sea and nothing is done about them yet our strong men stand by the roadside and sell chewing gum for a living.

- Residential houses are even better and nice looking than those in Canada but are built without landscaping. The result is dusty houses with their foundations being exposed high due to gradual erosion. - When it rains, the loose soils are washed down with garbage into the gutters and plug them, creating standing waters to culture mosquitoes. These mosquitoes after hatching comfortably feed on people to fertilize their eggs. - At times we do well by asking council workers to clean the gutters. The sad thing is that they remove the mud from the gutters and dump them right beside the gutters for the next rain to wash the mud down again into the gutters.

I feel if there is a policy that will encourage landlords to do landscaping on their properties, it will not only solve the problem of making the cities and towns clean and healthy but it will also create more jobs for the unemployed. This will not need dollars to do but planning and better law enforcement.

1. Training facilities can be setup to train those who will like to enter into landscaping (self-employed). This will revive the 'Parks & Gardens Industry'. I hope there are experts in the Universities who will be willing to help. 2. Tools for this job can easily be manufactured in Ghana. – Job creation 3. Grass is everywhere in the country. It can be grown and rolled into carpets for use as is done in the western world. – job creation 4. Hard baked bricks can be used to cover areas where grass cannot grow. – job creation 5. Public amenities like electricity, water pipe lines etc, should be installed before lands are sold to the public for development. This will discipline the chiefs not to sell lands at random. We develop our lands as if there are no laws, no building codes or no civil engineers in the country.

Public Health & Environmental Conditions:

- We sell food by the roadside and dusts and houseflies waste become additional toppings on the food. - The amount of industrial oil and lubricants that are spilled on the ground and finds its way into our waters is overwhelming.

The result is that, - The water tables are filled with oil residues and with time these porous rocks seize to hold water rendering our rivers dry. - The fishes in these waters are killed and the mosquitoes happily find new grounds to lay their eggs. - In the automotive garages, “dirty oil” is the mortar for the garage grounds. - Our nice rivers and streams that are meant for our livelihood and the gutters are used comfortably as toilet places and garbage damping areas even in the public places. The result is stinking cities and towns.

These problems can be resolved by; 1. Making strong laws against spilling of oil on the ground and littering. 2. The government should learn to share powers with local authorities to enforce this. Those who violate these laws should be fined to raise money for the local council and the central government. Ghana can also learn from Singapore in this matter. Probably the cane can fix the problem. In any organized society, if there are no consequences for people's action things are taken for granted. 3. Oil storage tanks should be manufactured and either buried in the ground or installed in areas such as gas stations, automotive garages (Magazine) etc. for waste oil. – job creation 4. The waste oil can then be pumped out for recycling. – Job creation.

The gas stations can provide for their own storage tanks whiles the re-cycling company builds tanks for the garages to store the waste oil for them.

This is cost-effective and I hope it will reduce the amount of industrial oils and lubricants that are imported into the country.

These ideas may seem very trivial compared to encouraging foreign investors to Ghana. But listen to what one Canadian businessman who wanted to invest in Ghana told me after visiting Ghana in1993.

“The people are very hospitable, nice and very educated. Crime rate in the Country is very low. But their cities stink. While in Accra, I went to the Art Center to purchase some Ghanaian art works. There was a soccer practice just close to that place which I went there to watch. As I was watching the soccer game, I lifted up my head to view the sea and I saw some people squatting along the seashore. I later found out that they were “shitting”.

What turned me off was that the people passing by did not care. Whatever happened around them meant nothing. They adjust to live with their problems instead of finding solutions to them. If I invest my money in a country like this, my business will stink and deteriorate like their cities and my money will be wasted like their roads without maintenance”.

Though ashamed I was hurt within but I did not blame him for being that hard on us. I felt we deserved hard comments like this to straighten us up.

If there are no laws to create jobs and make the people work, the rich will spend their money on expensive cars and bring in finished products like key holders for our strong men to stand by the roadside to sell them for a living. Young women and even young girls will be the rich man's prey and their source of lustful enjoyment instead of investing their money on projects that will benefit the country. They will also bribe their way through to refurbish their greed.

If this project is even 40% successful, it will go a long way to help the country. I feel this should be part of the Government's plan in solving the problems related to health and environmental mess in the country.

A Pilot project can begin now on some selected suburbs in the Regional capitals.

I sent a similar message to President Kuffour when he first took office in 2001. I call on the President again to reconsider these ideas.

While some Ghanaians embrace the input from those outside the country, majority of them develop a resentment attitude towards Ghanaians abroad.

The so called “Brain drain” has some advantages. At least we are more exposed to modern technology and different ideas. If we work with our fellow professionals in Ghana, there will be a dramatic change on the country's economy.

Loans from IMF and other organizations help a little bit but the real solutions to the country's problems rest on us all. Let us all pick up our brains from our minds and build mother Ghana.

Let us discuss ideas that build a strong and a prosperous nation rather than discussing events and people. Example it is not expedient to talk about coffee making machine that was donated to the Parliament House (headline Dec 13, 2005 – Ghana website).

We should all remember that “IF you really want to do something, you will find a way; if you do not, you will find an excuse”.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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