An assessment conducted by the Ministry of Health, the Food and Drug Authority (FDA), the Secretariat of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) (Convention Secretariat), WHO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has revealed that more than 800,000 Ghanaians continue to smoke and every year, tobacco use kills more than 6,700 Ghanaians, with 66 percent of these deaths being premature, among people under the age of 70.
These statistics denote many more Ghanaians are not able to quit tobacco or smoking, in general, irrespective of the rehabilitation and restrictive laws eschewing people from smoking.
It is on this score that the Executive Director of the Institute for Liberty and Policy Innovation, (ILAPI), Mr. Peter Bismark Kwofie has called on stakeholders in the health sector and policymakers to consciously develop an educative medium-long term gradual approach to reducing tobacco use rather than a short-term radical approach of denying consumers the right to make choices.
“ILAPI as a free enterprise organization that emphasizes freedom and individual liberty, profess other important and evidence-based alternatives to reduce the harm caused by tobacco and subsequently leading to quitting smoking.
Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use kills approximately eight (8) million people annually, with more than even (7) million of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).
In addition, it causes lung cancer, tobacco use increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other chronic illnesses.
Experts say the most effective way to prevent tobacco-related deaths is to quit smoking completely, however, addictive smokers are reluctant and unable to quit.
This according to Mr. Bismark Kwofie calls for harm reduction strategies which is crucial as an effective public health solution.
The process of absolutely quitting the habit of smoking has been quite unsustainable, repressive, and draconian, he noted.
Over the past decades, smoke cessation has been promulgated as the best approach to helping combustible smokers to quit. The addictive nature of the nicotine in cigarettes has made quitting smoking a prolonged and difficult process and that, many more smokers are unable to quit.
It is estimated that $115 billion is needed to be invested to help in smoking cessation from 2020–2030. In 2019, the economic cost of tobacco use in Ghana amounted to approximately GH668 million, equivalent to 0.2 percent of the country’s GDP.
The Executive Director of ILAPI is of the view that health workers, social workers, other relevant stakeholders, and policymakers should consider other alternatives which will be less costly and harmful measures to address the consumer choice addiction rate of tobacco.
“In this context, it is crucial to explore the potential benefits and drawbacks of Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) and weigh them against the well-established harmfulness of tobacco use to develop effective strategies for reducing tobacco consumption in Ghana.” He reiterated.
The Executive Director of ILAPI stressed that THR as a public solution recognizes the harm caused by combustible cigarettes and aims to minimize the health impacts of cigarette smoking by encouraging those adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke to switch completely to scientifically substantiated, reduced-risk alternatives ought to be explored in our contemporary society.
Mr. Kwofie is of the opinion that there could be a geo-cultural diversification of solutions to tobacco control but cautioned that the state should conduct and adopt empirically proven techniques as an alternative to reduce harm and death caused by Tobacco whilst not curtailing consumer choice.
“The inhumane and unscientific “Quit or Die” policy should not be reinforced. Instead of putting vapers and consumers at risk, this is a very good opportunity to raise awareness about THR in general, and encourage smokers who cannot quit smoking to adopt it.” He said.
There has been a school of thought of increasing taxes on tobacco products and banning THR products are the best initiatives to prevent people from smoking. But according to the Executive Director of ILAPI, anytime taxes (excise and consumption taxes) on products are high, the rich could buy and the middle-income and poor would engage in smuggling adding to the cost of fighting illicit transactions on tobacco.
“High taxes on tobacco products as means of cessation is not public health.” He retorted
We have challenges when it comes to the training of teachers in Ghana – Teacher Assessment Consultant
Teacher Professional Development Expert and Assessment Consultant, Professor Jonathan Fletcher has bemoaned the low standard and the orientation of Ghana’s teacher education institutions and the training of teachers.
His concern comes on the back of the failure of Over 6000 teachers out of 7,728 who sat for the teacher licensure exams last month as was disclosed by the Registrar of the Ghana Teacher Licensure Examination (GTLE), Dr. Christian Addai-Poku.
The Teacher Professional Development expert made his point on 3FM Sunrise Morning on Thursday 22 May, 2023 that we need to make sure that the right people get into the teacher training institutions. Then again, the more you get people in, and you don’t match it with the right resources, that is what you are going to get.
“How are you going to have one hundred people in a class? Elsewhere the teachers are not even trained in institutions like that; teachers are going to teach in schools and that is where they are trained. In the schools, they have training classes, and they work with real teachers. If it is a university program, they only go to the university maybe once or twice a week” Prof Fletcher stated.
He explained that having a large class size undermines effective teaching and learning since a teacher is handling more students, it makes it difficult to effectively assess and supervise the trainees.
“In the first place we have challenges when it comes to the training of teachers therefore, I wouldn’t say anybody who has come out of a teacher training programme is hundred percent prepared for the work. People have to learn on the job and the first thing is to make sure that people who are actually going to do the job have the commitment and secondly are prepared” he said.
According to the consultant, the system makes it difficult to assess the many teachers so there is the need to find a way to ensure that before they go out and teach, they are well prepared hence there is nothing wrong with the licensure exams because it will help all.
“If you have one teacher training a hundred trainees, how many of them can the teacher know and have a one-to-one session with? That is impossible, whereas elsewhere every student will have a one-to-one with a teacher. It is like producing people on a conveyor belt,” he bemoaned.
$600m first tranche of $3bn IMF cash has been received – Finance Ministry confirms
The Ministry of Finance has confirmed that the first tranche of $600million of the $ 3 billion Extended Credit Facility (ECF) has been received by the Bank of Ghana (BoG).
The cash, according to the Ministry, is to help restore macroeconomic stability, sustain the country’s debts and lay a strong foundation for inclusive growth.
“The first tranche of $600million of Ghana’s low interest of $3billion Extended Credit Facility has been received to help restore macroeconomic stability, sustain the country’s debts and lay a strong foundation for inclusive growth,” the Ministry tweeted on Saturday, May 20.
The first tranche of $600million of Ghana's low interest of $3billion Extended Credit Facility has been received to help restore macroeconomic stability, sustain the country’s debts and lay a strong foundation for inclusive growth.
— Ministry of Finance, Ghana (@MoF_Ghana) May 20, 2023
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta earlier stated that the second tranche was expected to be received in the next 6 months.
Speaking at the IMF-Ghana joint press conference held in Washington on Thursday, May 18, he said “There is a 600million Dollars release, I am sure we can get it by tomorrow, and in the next 6 months it is going to be another 600million dollars and then we have about five different tranches in the periods forward to get to the $3billion.”
The IMF Mission Chief for Ghana Stéphane Roudet indicated that the $3 billion bailout would result in reforms in the energy and cocoa sectors.
Also, he said the programme would result in reforms to encourage private sector investments and also build international reserves.
“There will be reforms in the energy and cocoa sectors,” he said during a joint Ghana -IMF press conference.
“It will be restoring macroeconomic stability, for higher and more inclusive growth. It has reforms that will make the economy more resilient and likely to withstand shock in the future,” he added.
The Board of the Fund unanimously approved Ghana’s bailout on Wednesday, May 17 at a meeting in Washington after Ghana secured the Paris Club financing assurance on Friday, May 12.
HUNDREDS OF NIGERIEN STRANDED FOLLOWING DEMOLITION OF THEIR HOMES IN TEMA
Hundreds of squatters at a slum area in Tema Newtown waterland, a suburb of Tema, have been rendered homeless following a démolition exercise carried out by a developer on the land they were occupying.
The victims mostly Nigerien traders who have been living in the area for the past 15 years say their former landowner who has since sold out the land to a new buyer, has refused to compensate them despite monies being allocated by the new owner for such purpose.
The over a hundred Nigerien traders who have been living in Waterland, a slum suburb of Tema Newtown, returned home last weekend to meet their place of abode demolished by a developer who is reported to have purchased the land hosting them from their landlord. According to the displaced squatters, even though their former landlord did hint to them at his intention to sell off the land and the need for them to pack out from the place, the sudden démolition of their structures without any prior notice was inhumane.
They claim they have been forced to live under the scorching sun with their families since their landlord failed to compensate them as per an agreement between the former and the new landowner.
Mohammed Illias, an opinion leader in the community who is championing the course for the displaced squatters to be compensated, urged the former landlord whom he claimed had been given money to compensate the squatters to do the needful or else risk cutting the anger of the community members.
Meanwhile, checks indicate that the National Disaster Management Organization have begun arrangements to support the displaced squatters who are currently sleeping in the open at waterland.