An open letter to Her Excellency -Lordina Mahama

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on your effort on Health Issues in Ghana.

Her Excellency!

I have taken with keen interest your effort on raising awareness on health issues in the country since you became the first lady of the republic of Ghana. Although, as beginner, I will say this country had lots of past first ladies -pre and post millennium era, but as a young man since the post millennium era, one first lady that I have in confidence followed is you, partly because of your advocacy on cancers. I must say for health pundits like me , you have established yourself as the one who have really serve the people but not the people serving you that was exactly what Jesus came to do-Servant hood!

You deserve praise and awards from the Medical Community in the country and beyond and even if not God will surely reward you for your service to humanity. I have really followed your outreach programs that place more emphasis on cervical and breast cancer and these are the top cancers afflicting Ghanaian women. Your education, screening and campaigning for early detections programs are laudable. You have no limitations as you go to the Witches camp to provide services. As we know the great work you are doing on women health issues partly because you are a woman, the Men’s Charity is grateful but our only concerned is that you are not also paying attention to men’s health because the father of the land is also a man!

Her Excellency, the men’s charity is also appealing to you to also help to campaign for change in men’s health especially the silent killer that is now afflicting Ghanaian men –Prostate cancer. Your Excellency, 1 in 5 Ghanaian men will get this dreaded disease and the Prostate Cancer UK has projected that the disease will become the leading cancer by the year 2030.

Her Excellency, Prostate and breast cancers are parallel diseases and I believe you can also help to create awareness and campaign for early detection in the country. This fathers day we launched national prostate cancer awareness campaign in Dodowa in collaboration with Amansan Television and we called on our father President John Dramani Mahama to recognized the fathers day in the country as a national prostate cancer day because this we believe will go a long way to help raise awareness and promote early detection programs in the country.

We are appalling to you as women are the heart beat of the men you can make this appeal to the president to have it be consider to stage the awareness. We are also
calling on you to support us with a mobile Van to help our work to provide services to men in the rural areas of the country.

Though your Excellency, prostate cancer affect only men, the side effect and psychosocial aspect of the disease even affect women than the men. The side effect of treatment of the diseases affect men sex life and it can be permanent or temporal and you know men always want to be men in the house and this is bringing lot of bewildering in the homes so we appeal to you also consider and push for a free screening program if it is possible on the NHIS because if the disease is detected early it can be successfully treated but is also more aggressive in black men and more prone to black men. There is a high mortality rate in the country and something needs to be done. It is estimated that close to 1,000 men get this disease yearly and the worrying aspect is the number of death per year-800.

You can campaign to educate women to stand by their men in this trying times of their lives and women needs to know that the treatment of prostate cancer affect men sex life and that their sex life will never be the same after prostate cancer treatment and in fact about 76% of men affect prostate cancer treatment have problems with erectile dysfunction.

The men’s charity team is still fighting against prostate cancer as we declare zero prostate cancer projects –transforming the future of prostate cancer in Ghana. We are leading change, creating awareness, research and offering free screening programs. Every man and woman will definitely know about prostate cancer. We want men to know about the prostate gland and what it’s actually does. We are men united fighting against prostate cancer. Our campaigns are very strong and we hope to use all available means to raise awareness on the disease. Our ambassadors team will go all out using the campaigns, Do it’s for Dads, Manhood For Life, Stand by Your Man and the grand one Men united against prostate cancer campaign. This fathers day was total different from the previous ones as more emphasis was placed on prostate cancer and Ghana bought into the idea of using the fathers day to help raise awareness on prostate cancer.

Cancer is a major problem in Ghana, yet recent figures suggest that 70% are diagnosed at the late stage of the disease. For instance for cervical cancer less that 3% of women receive regular screening. Incidence and mortality rates are among the highest in the world, with the age-standardized mortality rate from cervical cancer reported as being more than three times the global rate. In the case of prostate cancer, most men are not aware of it, not alone where to go for screening but there are screening programs for cervical and breast cancer in the country.

The reasons for these high rates include a lack of investment and weak governance in the recent past to address. A review of Ghana’s national policies and actions against chronic disease for the period 1992-2009 concluded that these two factors “have hindered the effective and speedy implementation of proposed interventions.”
The same review, published in 2012, noted that the situation was improving, with diseases such as cervical cancer becoming a high priority for the country’s government and health services. The launch of the HPV vaccination programme in November reflects this renewed focus.

In the programme, more than 6,000 girls aged 9-11 years in four districts in the Northern and Greater Accra regions of Ghana will be vaccinated against strains of HPV, a significant cause of cervical cancer. Each girl will receive three doses over a 6-month period.

The launch of the vaccination programme was marked by a ceremony involving the First Lady of Ghana, Lordina Mahama, according to a report on the event by the GAVI Alliance, which is supporting the programme. The First Lady said: “I call on all to ensure that every girl within these districts is fully immunized during the HPV vaccination campaign. It is unacceptable for any woman to die as a result of cervical cancer, which is preventable.”

Dr Mercy Ahun of the GAVI Alliance added: “The harsh reality is that in developing countries screening and treatment for HPV are too often lacking, making the vaccine our best hope for prevention.”

The role of men in helping to support efforts to tackle cervical cancer in Ghana was examined in a survey published last year. The researchers, who interviewed 29 men, found that men “play a significant role in the health behaviors of some Ghanaian women” but many have misconceptions about the disease, or have concerns that could potentially restrict the provision and effectiveness of care. For example, some men expressed anxiety about a male doctor performing tests (including visual inspection) on their wives as part of cervical cancer screening. Increasing the number of trained female healthcare providers in Ghana who offer screening could help improve the situation, the researchers said. They concluded that educational interventions aimed at Ghanaian men could help improve support for cervical cancer screening, as part of wider efforts to improve the availability of, and access to, preventive care.

Prostate cancer equally needs attention to, Her Excellency and we also hope that the father’s day by next year will officially be recognized as national prostate cancer day in Ghana just like the valentine day as national chocolate day in Ghana to help address issues affecting men’s health and we hope you help us to push for this agenda at the presidency.
Thank you

Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu is a registered alternative medical practitioner who specializes in Prostate cancer and studied the Masters program in prostate cancer –Sheffield Hallam University, UK and a PhD candidate in prostate cancer, Indian Board of Alternative Medicines Academy, Kolkata, India and the founder of Men’s Health Foundation Ghana and De Men’s clinic and Prostate Research Lab in Dodowa, Akoto House. Tel: 0541090045, 0500106570. E.mail:oburalph30@yahoo.co.uk.

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