The Lordina Foundation and Teshie-based privately owned Family Health Hospital, have jointly organized a free health screening exercise, for journalists in the Greater Accra Region.
The well-patronized programme, held at the Independence Square last Friday, was also supported by the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ghana Aids Commission (GAC), Organization of African First Ladies (OAFLA) against HIV/AIDS, headed by the First Lady, Lordina Mahama, and other health institutions.
Media houses such as The Herald, the Ghanaian Times, Daily Graphic, Daily Guide, Daily Democrat, The Alhaj newspapers, the Ghana News Agency (GNA),United Television (UTV), Metro Television, and many others for the first time, all dropped their pens and cameras, to take part in the free screening exercise.
The exercise was to ensure journalists were free from life-threatening non-communicable diseases that may be hidden in their bodies, as they busily move about searching for news to educate, entertain and inform the masses. Many ordinary members of the public, were also screened for free by the organizers.
The obviously-pleased journalists who thronged the venue were screened for diseases such as high blood pressure, kidney problems, HIV-AIDS, cardio diseases, diabetes, heart diseases, cervical cancer, malaria, eye, brain and spinal problems,breast cancer, and many others.
In cases where beneficiary journalists needed medicine for a diagnosed disease, the team of health professionals, who included pharmacists, provided free drugs.
The programme which was the first of its kind, led by the Health Ministry, saw the relocation of some the best machines put in special vans to care for journalists some of who wanted to screen for cervical and breast cancers, kidney, eye etc.
Doctors and other health professionals, were drawn from the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Family Health Hospital, the LEKMA Hospital at Teshie, government’s clinic on wheels facility called “Onuado”, to provide health to a cross section of Ghanaians.
The Director of Family Health Group, operators of Family Health Hospital, Family Health Medical School and Family Health Nursing and Midwifery School, Prof. E. Y Kwawukume, said organizers intend to extend the free exercise to media professionals nationwide.
“We will move from here to the regions, to Kumasi, to the north, to the very remote areas to the Volta Region, to the Eastern Region, so that people can understand health, so that at the end of the day, we are each other’s keeper”
Prof. Kwawukume, said the decision to organise the programme for journalists, stemmed from the fact that, because of the nature of their work, hardly find time to visit the hospital until they are down with a disease.
Prof. Kwawukume who said “screening is better than cure” stressed the need for journalists to take their health seriously as their work demands so much from them.
“The journalists have peculiar problems and they themselves if you ask them, they would not want to come for screening [but] today you are here”, he said.
The Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia, endorsed the exercise, adding measures will be put in place to ensure that journalists across the country, benefit from it.
Speaking under the theme, “Good Health Better Life: the Role of the Media Practitioners in Nation Building”, Mr. Segbefia, continued that health screening such as what was organized, was very critical for journalists, especially as the presidential and parliamentary elections approaches.
The Director General of the Ghana Aids Commission, Dr. Angela El-Adas, who read a speech on behalf of the First Lady, said the media, has been at the forefront in the fight against HIV-AIDS, cervical cancer, breast cancer etc.
This has been done by spreading the campaign messages of the Ghana Aids Commission and OAFLA on stigma and awareness.
Mrs. Mahama, acknowledged the important role the media play in nation building and asked that they take advantage of the free exercise,which was of good quality.
“Your work is highly stressful and sometimes dangerous, but you hardly have time to rest or seek medical care”, she charged.
Mrs.Mahama, believed the programme would contribute to “Achieving OAFLA’s mandate of supporting Ghana to become free of HIV-AIDS, reduce maternal and child mortality and where equal right and opportunities in this case, the right to health becomes a reality for all”.
She challenged journalists to screen for,especially HIV-AIDS, cervical cancer, and also encourage their families and friends to get tested to know their status.
Dr. El-Adas, who commended the media for partnering the Commission in the fight against the deadly disease, urged the journalists to increase the campaign, as it has been minimized over the period, adding the Commission, will this week launch the “National Strategic Plan 2016-2020” for HIV-AIDS.