SSNIT encourages workers to negotiate for better basic income

Mr Charles Akwei Garshong, Public Affairs Manager, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), has urged workers to negotiate for a basic income component of their salaries which outweighs their allowances.

Doing so, he said, would enable them to have better pension benefits.

He observed that most employers would prefer paying low basic income and higher allowances to employees to avoid paying higher social security contribution for employees which was calculated on basic income.

‘If the basic is small, it simply means your pension will be small because when we are calculating your pension, we will not take into consideration the allowances that was declared for you,’ he said.

Mr Garshong made the remarks during a media engagement on the Self-Employed Enrolment Drive (SEED) which is an initiative aimed at registering more self-employed and informal workers onto the SSNIT pension scheme.

Registered contributors are to declare a monthly salary, pay 13.5 per cent of the declared salary either on a monthly quarterly, semi- annual or annual basis.

Currently self-employed persons make up only 1.8 per cent of about 1.9 million SSNIT contributors as of April 2023.

He noted that the misconception associated with the retirement benefits of contributors had been caused by the lack of understanding of how retirement benefits were computed.

He encouraged workers to regularly check on their mandatory contributions to ensure that employers did not shortchange them when they retired.

The Public Affairs Manager urged contributors not to hesitate on drawing the attention of SSNIT when they identify any discrepancies such as non-payment of contributions by employers or under payment of contributions based on declared salaries of employees.

‘While in service check your statements periodically. Once everything is correct and you retire today, you have within two weeks to get your pension,’ he said.

Source: Ghana News Agency

AngloGold Ashanti partners GIZ to train SMEs on pandemic preparedness

AngloGold Ashanti, Obuasi Mine in collaboration with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), has organised a two-day training on pandemic preparedness for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in Obuasi.

According to the GIZ, SMEs are one of the most important, yet vulnerable drivers of development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This is due to the fact that while they are known for supporting over 50 per cent of all livelihoods on the continent (both formal and informal), they often face a plethora of risks that regularly put their survival and continuous operations in jeopardy.

The case of SMEs in Obuasi and other parts of the country is not different considering the difficulties they faced during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The training was, therefore, to prevent SMEs in Obuasi from succumbing to the shocks of a major pandemic or challenge and improve their resilience.

The beneficiaries were mainly suppliers who have been in business with AngloGold Ashanti.

Mr John Arkoh Mensah of the University of Ghana who facilitated the training, said most SMEs felt the full brunt of COVID-19 due to lack of plan towards unforeseen contingencies.

He said, ‘Pandemic comes in different forms not only diseases. It could be fire outbreaks or any major setbacks, but we believe that with this training, players in the SME sector in Obuasi will be in a pole position to withstand any predicament. If they can withstand a pandemic, they can equally deal with epidemic.’

Beneficiaries of the training program who spoke with the media lauded AngloGold Ashanti and GIZ for the training.

They revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on their businesses resulting in several losses and staff lay-offs.

Ms. Joyce Owusu, a trader, said the training programme had come at an opportune time when SMEs were still counting their losses and trying to pick up the pieces.

‘This training has really helped us, we have been trained on how to plan ahead of any emergency that might befall our businesses,’ she noted.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Hepatitis B: Traditional herbal medicines are not an alternative for a cure

Being diagnosed with Hepatitis B is like a death sentence, says Anthony Holmes, a 30-year-old businessman.

Anthony had to leave his business when he fell seriously ill and was diagnosed initially with an autoimmune disease.

A few months passed and Anthony still did not feel well. One day, he decided to get tested during one of the free screening exercises normally organized on World Hepatitis Day, and the results turned out positive.

This was a big blow to Anthony, but with the support of his family members and friends, some contributions were made to his laboratory investigations to start the treatment process.

He did well with his treatments for the first six months. He was always seen at the Hospital every month and never missed his counseling session. He was doing great.

Unfortunately, he stopped his treatment after some time and started herbal treatment recommended to him by his parents who said it could help cure the infection.

One faithful day, Anthony run into his physician who asked him why he had not been coming to the clinic for his routine treatments and management.

He gave his Physician his reasons and he expressed disappointment in Anthony saying that his decision could result in terrible complications, but he said he was giving it a trial for some time.

After some months of being on the treatment, Anthony’s condition worsened, and he was admitted to the Hospital. His laboratory results were so bad with elevated liver enzymes. By that time, he looked so sick with swollen limbs and a distended abdomen.

Anthony’s life now hangs in the balance. His liver was failing. Several liver ultrasound tests conducted revealed that the state of his liver was terrible.

The story of Anthony is one of the many incidents of hepatitis patients resorting to herbal treatments. Anthony’s life hangs in balance now, but I am hopeful that his condition can be managed.

There are many people out there with similar cases but unfortunately couldn’t live to tell their stories.

Hepatitis B, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic diseases.

When the infection lasts for more than six months, it can develop into chronic Hepatitis B, which can lead to chronic inflammation of the liver, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver cancer, and/or liver failure.

The virus is spread through contact with the body fluids of an infected person, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and saliva.

Symptoms of the disease include abdominal pain, dark urine, fever, joint pain, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, weakness, fatigue, yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.

A vaccine can prevent Hepatitis B, but there’s no cure if one has the condition. Infected persons must take precautions that can help prevent spreading of the virus to others.

The five main viral classifications of hepatitis are hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. A different virus is responsible for each type of viral hepatitis.

A 2022 Report by the WHO indicates that nearly 296 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B, with an annual mortality of 820,000.

In Africa alone, about 60 million people are estimated to have hepatitis B viral (HBV) infection (WHO, 2020), and a higher proportion of these people reside in Central and Western Africa (WHO, 2017b).

In Ghana, 12.3 per cent of the population have hepatitis B, and three per cent of the people have Hepatitis C with 8.36 per cent of the condition having been recorded in the adult population, 14.3 per cent in adolescents, and 0.55 in Children five years.

Hepatitis B and C are the most common of the conditions and result in 1.1 million deaths and 3 million new infections per year.

Scientists are thus against the use of traditional herbal medicines because till now no scientific tests have proven the efficacy of these products, so, consumers must be mindful to protect the liver from any additional injury or harm.

Dr Atsu Godwin Seake-Kwaku, Programme Manager, National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme, GHS, says it is worrying that people resort to herbal treatment when effective treatment options were available for all in hospital care.

Research has shown that in recent times, effective antiviral agents against HBV such as Nucleos(t)ide analogs (NAs) are available.

These drugs are capable of suppressing HBV replication, preventing the progression of chronic Hepatitis B to cirrhosis, and reducing the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma and liver-related death.

Notwithstanding, hepatitis treatments are underused despite their effectiveness in managing Hepatitis B due to the cost.

Dr Seake-Kwaku reveales that Ghana has a high prevalence rate of eight per cent of hepatitis B and C, which means that the country is hyper-endemic being driven by mother-to-child transmission.

He says it is, therefore, crucial for the country to address this inter-generational transmission to be able to impact the prevalence to reduce the disease.

The Programme Manager called for a scale-up of Hepatitis B and C testing as the disease prevalence keeps increasing in the country.

He advised Ghanaians to take advantage of Hepatitis C-free treatment opportunities as medication for the disease was high-priced.

Checks at some Hospitals reveal that a 12-week course of treatment for hepatitis C is GHC 5,500, equivalent to $486.17 -quite expensive for the ordinary Ghanaian.

As part of the global response toward the elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030, WHO has adopted a global strategy to reduce new HBV infections by 90 per cent and death by 65 per cent through immunization, prevention of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT), blood and injection safety, harm reduction services, and increased testing and treatment.

In 2022, on World Hepatitis Day, the WHO reported a new outbreak of unexplained acute hepatitis infections affecting children. This new outbreak brings focus to thousands of acute viral hepatitis infections that occur among children, adolescents, and adults every year.

The WHO, thus, called for global efforts to prioritize the elimination of hepatitis infections B, C, and D infections.

Mr Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin, Deputy Majority Leader, in his recent submission on the floor of Parliament and reported in the media appealed to the government to make testing, vaccination, and treatment of Hepatitis B accessible to rural communities.

He says it was equally important that Hepatitis B treatment be enrolled into the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to make it affordable or even free as done for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

‘HIV patients get the antiretroviral drugs free of charge. Unfortunately, Hepatitis B patients who also rely on this same medication have to buy it.

‘If we do this, it will reduce morbidity and mortality in our country to the barest minimum with a strong focus on vulnerable groups within our rural areas,’ the Deputy Minority Leader stated.

Dr Charles Ampong Adjei, the Executive Director, of Hepatitis Alliance Ghana (HAG), a non-governmental organization told the GNA that the issue of using herbal medicine for hepatitis was a huge challenge they are currently faced with.

He said the proliferation of herbal practitioners in the market was overwhelming, adding that their effectiveness is based on self professions of consumers of the products.

‘But fortunately for patients in our network, they have been sensitized against herbal medicine use, and we have also gone a step further to create a space for them to access liver specialists via phone and Zoom,’ the Executive Director said.

Dr Adjei, however, said this problem persisted in the country because primary healthcare had not been responsive to the needs of persons with Hepatitis B.

Patients are left with no option but to seek help from herbal practitioners, which unfortunately makes them report to the hospital late with damaged livers.

No herbal medicine has been certified as effective in treating hepatitis B or C in Ghana and cautioned the public against using any of such medicines in an attempt to cure hepatitis, he stated.

He said, despite the gains made as a country much is required to enable Ghana to achieve the 2030 target.

This report was made possible with technical support from the Centre for Science and Health Communication (CSHC), and funding from the National Research Foundation, South Africa.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Assin-Breku road crash: Police commence investigation over incident

The Police say they have started investigating a road crash, involving a motorbike and a Daewoo truck with registration number GX 3489 – 14 at Assin-Breku in the Central Region.

A statement issued and signed by Superintendent of Police Irene Serwaah Oppong of the Public Affairs Unit, Central Region said the crash which occurred on June 12, 2023, resulted in severe injury to one victim, Ibrahim Abubakar Mush, who was immediately sent to hospital for medical attention.

It said meanwhile, the driver of the Daewoo truck, George Owusu, was currently on Police Enquiry Bail and assisting the investigation.

The statement urged the public to remain calm while investigation into the incident continued.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Fathers urged to leave good legacies for generations ?

Fathers have been urged to leave good legacies for younger generations.

‘Every good father gives legacies for his family especially the best of education for the children, which becomes their intellectual property that can never be taken away from them.

‘They should also be good examples through their words and deeds guided by the word of God and prayer.’

Pastor Edward Brains Agidi Quarshie, Pastor of the Church of Pentecost, Ahenema-Kokoben District, gave the advise during a special service to celebrate this year’s Father’s Day observed worldwide.

Pastor Quarshie said fathers’ true nature was mostly emulated by children thus urged them to endevour to be good role models.

He asked them not to only be teachers, pastors and counsellors to children as head of the home but also provide comfort, emotional security and show love.

There were presentation of gifts to father’s in the church and a special song composed for them.

Father’s Day was founded by Sonora Smart Dodd, a woman from Spokane, Washington, who was inspired to create the holiday after attending a Mother’s Day church service in 1909.

She was the daughter of William Jackson Smart, a single father and Civil War veteran who raised Sonora and her five siblings.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Give MMDAs the chance to construct their roads – Darko-Mensah

The Western Regional Minister, Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, has stated that it was time for the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to make road construction decisions under the supervision of the Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs).

He said by doing that, the MMDAs and RCCs would be able to perform timely maintenance and better manage the roads, avoiding rapid deterioration that would necessitate large sums of money to repair.

Mr Darko-Mensah, who made the remarks in an interview, indicated that citizens’ first port of call for bad roads was the MMDAs and RCCs.

As a result, he urged Parliament to consider enacting legislation allowing the various MMDAs and RCCs to build their own roads with a certain level of funding to address the road sector’s challenges.

He praised the concept of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives for road construction but expressed concern about the over-centralization of road sector funds, which he said was impeding progress in the sector.

He also suggested that a bill should consider how private companies could be allowed to build roads within their catchment areas rather than being forced to give the funds to the Ghana Highways Authority (GHA) and the Urban Roads Department.

He noted that such measures would save the country money because roads built by private companies were often relatively less expensive.

Mr Darko-Mensah, who also served as Vice Chairperson of Parliament’s Roads Committee, cited the Tarkwa-Abosso road, which was built by the Mines at a fraction of the cost that the government would have paid.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Assembly pledges commitment towards elimination of child labour

Mr Michael Amoah Awuku, the District Chief Executive for Atwima Nwabiagya, says the assembly is working with relevant stakeholders to eliminate all forms of child labour, especially those in cocoa growing areas in the Municipality.

‘Child labour violates the right of every child to grow up free from exploitation, abuse, and violence. It also compromises children’s education and limits their future opportunities thereby deepening the cycle of poverty in the society,’ he said at a grand durbar to mark World Day Against Child Labour at Hiawu-Besease.

The event, which was put together by the Municipal Child Protection Committee in collaboration with Winrock International, a Non-Governmental Organization and some local Cocoa Cooperatives, sought to raise awareness about the adverse effects of child labour and its associated challenges to the cocoa industry.

The Child Protection Committee, which is headed by the Municipal Coordinating Director, Mr Eric Anaafi, is mandated to lead efforts geared towards addressing child labour issues in the Municipality.

Various stakeholders including Heads of Departments, officials of Winrock International, Officials of Cocoa Cooperatives, Community Child Protection Committee Members, chiefs, parents, care givers, teachers, and pupils of Hiawu-Besease attended the durbar.

The global theme for the 2023 edition of the World Day Against Child Labor is ‘Protecting Children Against Child Labour, Now More Than Ever.’

The day was on the theme, ‘Intensify Action against Child Labour; Do it Fast, Do it Now.’

The durbar was in line with Winrock International’s Making Advances to Eliminate Child Labour in More Areas with Sustainable Integrated Efforts Project (MATE MASIE) which is being implemented in the Atwima Nwabigya Municipality and four other districts in the Ashanti Region with funding from the United States Department of Labour.

The MCE stressed on the need for parents and guardians to ensure their children took advantage of the free compulsory basic education and free Senior High School policies to enable them to compete with their peers in developed countries.

‘That is why the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government is making frantic efforts to ensure that all children of school-going age attend school without any hindrance at least to the senior high level,’ he pointed out.

He charged parents not to compromise their children’s future by engaging them in commercial activities at the expense of a better future.

Mr Fidelis Yapel, Project Director of the MATE MASIE Project, said the partnership with the Assembly in the implementation of the project would significantly address child labour, especially in the cocoa sector.

He entreated the Assembly to consider extending the fight against child labour to other communities so that the gains made through the MATE MASIE project were not short-lived.

He paid glowing tribute to the United States Department of Labour for funding the MATE MASIE project in Ghana.

Mrs Afua Boadiwaa Aidoo, the Project Officer of Kokoo Pa, one of the partners of the MATE MASIE Project, called on all stakeholders to put their shoulders to the wheel in finding lasting solution to child labour in Ghana.

She emphasised on how child labour issues were affecting the trading of Ghana’s cocoa beans on the international market as the call of the international community for the eradication of child labour in the cocoa sector across the globe keeps intensifying.

Nana Aboagye Asare II, the Chief of Besease who chaired the event, called for concerted and harmonized efforts from stakeholders to effectively tackle the perennial problem.

Source: Ghana News Agency

NAVTRAC: Ghana Navy’s Outgoing Flag Officer Commanding commends Volta/Oti GJA

Commodore Godwin Livinus Bessing, the out-going Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) of the Naval Training Command at Sogakope-Nutekpor in the Volta Region has commended the leadership and members of the Volta and Oti Chapter of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) for the sterling collaboration during his stewardship, which deepened military-civilian relationship for nation building.

He said the GJA in the Region had played a pivotal role in reshaping and spearheading many administrative and other important roles in the Naval training Command which he said must be sustained.

Commodore Bessing made the commendation at his ‘Pull-Out’ ceremony, at the Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) to denote the closure of his services to the Command base at Nutekpor on Friday.

He said the relationship between the two institutions has helped the Command to achieve successes such as training hundreds of recruits as well as shaping the command’s activities positively for the peace and progress that the country needed.

Mr Emmanuel Agbaxode, Chairman of the Volta/Oti Chapter of GJA, on behalf of the Association presented a citation to the out-going FOC, stating that the exemplary leadership and collaboration between the two institutions have set a commendable precedent for military-media relations in the region and beyond.

He noted that working together with the Naval Base had given much exposure to the Association and opened avenues for engaging members for capacity-building and specialised reportage on issues relating to security, among others.

‘This relationship between the two institutions gives positive signals of positioning the media in a solid state on security-related reportage.’

‘As you depart from the Naval Training Command, your footprints will continue to impact on our hearts and the journalism community in the region will continue to cherish and remembered your leadership styles,’ Mr Agbaxode noted

Commodore Bessing joined the Ghana Military Academy in January 1991 and was commissioned into the Ghana Navy Executive Branch as a Sub-Lieutenant in 1992 and a member of Regular Career Course 32 where he proceeded to India for his Basic Sub-Lieutenant Technical Course from 1993 to 1995.

On his return home, he was posted to the fleet as a Watching Keeping Officer until 1999 when he was appointed Executive Officer (2 I/C) of Ghana Navy Ship SEBO and later captained the same ship from 2004 to 2006.

In the course of his career, Commodore Bessing held several staff and command appointments in both National and International setting such as among others, Assistant Director, Naval Administration, Liaison Officer with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and Military Observer with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone.

Commodore Bessing also served as a member of the Directing Staff at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Nigeria from 2010 to 2012.

He graduated from the University of Ghana with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Statistics, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), where he earned a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration and others.

Commodore Bessing’s immediate past appointment was the Chief Staff Officer at the Naval Headquarters.

Until his new appointment, he was the FOC, Naval Training Command at Nutekpor, an appointment he has been holding since March 11, 2022, till date.

Commodore Bessing takes a new portfolio as the Defence Advisor to the Ghana High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria.

The short event also saw the official handing over of office to Commodore Bright E. K Atiayao, the new FOC.

Several security ‘Capos’ witnessed the event.

Source: Ghana News Agency