Pastor Mensah Otabil is a very worried man. The General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church is alarmed both at the rate of alcohol consumption in the country and the spate of alcohol advertising in the media, particularly television.
The worry of Dr Otabil, who is also Chancellor of the Central University College, is that given the health and societal impact of excessive alcohol consumption on both adult and underage populations, the Ghanaian society should permit alcohol to be packaged and presented in the media as a cure for people who have lost the appetite for food and an aphrodisiac for people with erectile dysfunction and cannot function sexually for one reason or another.
Both of these claims are not only deceptive but also dangerous, he contends, because while it may be true, in the narrow sense, that alcohol could induce a man to eat more or to experience some sexual arousal for a short period, the long-term effects are harrowing.
Dr Otabil cites the case of the United States where it has been proved that excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of preventable death, and is a risk factor for many health and societal problems.
Otabil made the alarming observations while formally opening the Capital 02 Gym and Fitness Centre in Dansoman, Accra on Monday. The centre is said to be the most modern, with state of the art facilities, a library stocked with books written by known authorities.
Presenting his case against dangerous lifestyle and alcoholism, Dr. Otabil who cited proven medical facts and figures said there is a direct link between liver diseases and obesity. "Alcohol breaks down as sugar in the body. The sugar is stored as fat, which, if not effectively managed, becomes a major health hazard.
"We should remember that not all fat in the body is stored under the skin, causing obesity. There are fats that are stored in the arteries and the veins, clogging them. That's a recipe for heart attack, blood pressure and stroke.
"My worry is when we present alcohol as a source of sexual potency. Alcohol may raise the blood levels so that the person feels highly aroused. But cumulatively it clogs the arteries and the veins resulting in sluggish blood supply which eventually affects sexual performance."
Dr Otabil's point is supported by social science research which has found that while as a man grows older, he loses sexual potency, a woman gets more sexually aroused in midlife, especially after two or three child births.
Dr Otabil mentioned statistics that prove that there is a rise in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes. He contends: "If it's Type 2, it means only one thing: that the patients were not born with the disease. It is a sugar factor, and we all know that alcohol breaks down as sugar in the body.
"In a society with very bad eating habits and lack of exercise, we are destroying ourselves," he warned.
Pastor Otabil, who has established a reputation in the country for his motivational sermons, wondered: "We (society) have been smart enough to say that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health. Why are we not saying the same about alcohol?" he demanded.
He called for more stringent laws governing alcohol sale and consumption. For instance, Dr Otabil said, "We have to have laws that restrict the age at which younger people can be permitted to take alcohol. In Ghana there is a law (that puts the age limit at 18), but the problem is the enforcement.
"Also, there has to be a law that limits the times when alcohol can be sold. It doesn't make sense that alcohol is sold around the clock. Proximity is another case. We shouldn't have too many alcohol dispensing facilities in one vicinity."
The sum of Dr Otabil's case is that "while we cannot determine how people use their freedom of choice, we should be able to guide the exercise of that choice - and we do that through the law."
The managing director of Capital 02 Gym and Fitness Centre, Mr J.D. Otoo, used the occasion to urge the society's middle class to exercise the body.
He said the philosophy of the Capital 02 Group is that people shouldn't wait to get ill and then go to hospital for medications.
"We believe in preventive medicine. That is why our flagship product, Living Bitters, is meant to detoxify the body, thus preventing diseases."