Ghana Faces Safety, Security Risks Over 'Sleeping' Standards
The Director General of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Professor Alex Dodoo, has decried the inability of regulatory bodies to enforce standards across almost all sectors, resulting in serious health, safety and security implications.
He said although the GSA had developed enough standards to ensure public safety and consumer protection, enforcing them remained a big challenge because it lacked the resources to publicise those standards.
He said currently Ghana had about 3,900 standards, out of which 1,600 were indigenous and the rest international standards adopted, but enforcement was difficult because of the lack of public awareness.
Prof. Dodoo made this known when he joined editors of the Daily Graphic on Sunday, October 13, during their Editorial conference to brief them on the commemoration of this year’s World Standards Day, which takes place today, Monday, October 14, 2019.
He also used the opportunity to observe some of the processes in the production of the Daily Graphic.
Prof. Dodoo described local standards as standards for determining the weight and measurement of plantain chips, Sobolo, Hausa Koko, maize, okra, oil and gas, stating: “But we have not made the country aware of them and so how do we enforce them?”
He said weights and measures were very dynamic in Ghana, “from the weight of our kenkey, oil and gold. We are not enforcing standards and so business is unfair and consumers are being cheated every day”.
He said health facilities were failing patients by using equipment which had not been calibrated to, for instance, check blood pressure (BP) and body weight.
“The birth weight of your child that you are given at one hospital can change if you take the child to another hospital. When you check your BP in one hospital and you go to 10 other hospitals, you will get 10 different results, with huge differences, and it is scary,” he said.
“Even your vulcanisers, dressmakers and tailors use inaccurate instruments because they have not been calibrated,” he added.
The year’s World Standards Day is on the theme: “Video standards create a global stage”.
The day was instituted by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in acknowledgement of the importance of standardisation to the world economy.
Standards, Prof. Dodoo explained, drove the modern world, and that without standards trading in goods and services could become impossible.
Adherence to standards, he said, primarily helped establish the quality and credibility of products and services and enhanced consumer protection and trade facilitation.
Without written standards, he said, “standards are subject to the whims and caprices of people and quite often affect the quality and consistency of goods and services and the manufacturing and the services industry”.
He pointed out that there were international standards, national standards, industry standards and “there can be company standards, so the Daily Graphic can have a standard for producing its paper which is written and ensures the editor and his team are consistent”.
This year’s theme, he said, was in recognition of the increasing use and demand for video technology, adding: “20 years ago, you could not send a video which was even two seconds because it was two big. Through a technology led by Germany, there is now a particular way of encrypting, sending, downloading and encoding it. That is why we can watch live soccer.”
“Whichever way you look at it, whether health care or transportation, video standards are driving the world now. Tele-nursing is becoming the standard and within the next 10 or five years no one will use a stethoscope. Video standards are transforming every industry,” he said.
Prof. Dodoo appealed to the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) to support the GSA in its drive to promote and create awareness of standards and also encourage the youth to harness new technology and explore the employment opportunities available.
The Head of Public Relations at the GSA, Mr Peter Martey Agbeko, said the mandate of the authority was to develop, promote and enforce standards.
“It is the promotion that we lack. After promoting them, we can enforce them. As for voluntary compliance, it will not happen. It is because of the promotion bit that we are here,” he said.
He said the authority was using social media and its websites to promote its activities as part of efforts to ensure consumer protection and trade facilitation.
The Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr Kobby Asmah, said in the light of Ghana’s drive to be globally competitive, it could not downplay the importance of standards, as it currently appeared there was a lack of enforcement of standards, from birth to death.
He expressed worry about the weak infrastructure for standards enforcement but was quick to state that it was “not too late” to educate people on standards and enforce compliance.
He said standards should not be talked about only on World Standards Day, saying “it must be continuous, as adhering to standards will guarantee many benefits, such as jobs in all sectors”.
The Editor pledged the GCGL’s readiness to support the GSA to educate the public and enforce standards.