Aggrieved Public Sector Workers embark on demonstration, demand 25% pay increment

Accra, Aggrieved Public Sector Workers-Ghana, a coalition of public sector workers, Wednesday took to the streets of Accra to protest the inadequacy of the recent four per cent pay hike by the Government.

The group said that the percentage increment was unfair to public sector workers, and would not mitigate the current high cost of living in the country.

 

They are, therefore, expecting nothing short of a 25 percent increment in wages in the sector.

 

Norbert Gborgbortsi, Convenor, Aggrieved Public Sector Workers-Ghana, addressing the media after the demonstration, said workers cannot survive with the four per cent base pay increment in the wake of the introduction of numerous new taxes affecting their standards of living.

 

“How can someone taking a salary of less than two thousand Ghana cedis survive after all these taxes are deducted in addition to SSNIT, union levies et cetera,” he said.

 

Mr Gborgbortsi held that the government’s explanation that the four percent salary increment was due to the economic meltdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic was unsatisfactory.

 

“Government claims that our four percent pay increase was due to the dire economic situation created by COVID-19, meanwhile, they have increased the salary of Article 71 holders by 79 percent. So, this explanation by them is discriminatory and unfair,” he added.

 

Gborgbortsi called on the leadership of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to return to the negotiation table and demand nothing short of a 25 percent increment on the base pay of public sector workers.

He said the demonstration would be replicated across the 16 regions of the country to press home their demands, adding that, if their request is not met, they would adopt other strategies to get what they want.

The government last month increased public sector wages by four per cent and seven per cent for 2021, 2022 respectively after negotiations with organized labour.

 

Organised labour had initially proposed a 15 per cent increment for both years and subsequently reduced the figure to 10 percent, But when the government still maintained the four per cent and seven per cent for 2021 and 2022, with the condition that there would be retrenchment in the public sector if it acceded to the demand of organized labour.

 

Many in the public sector have voiced their displeasure with the development and have asked their unions to go back and negotiate well with the government. Some have said that the particular negotiation had been the weakest salary negotiation ever by organized labour.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mrs Juliana Obeng, Director of Public Relations, Accra Regional Police Command, said the exercise was peaceful.

 

She commended the demonstrators for cooperating with the Police throughout the exercise.

 

The demonstration started from the Obra Spot, Kwame Nkrumah Circle at about 0830 hours, through Nkrumah Avenue towards the Farisco traffic Light, terminating at the Independence Square at 1130 hours.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

Covid-19 vaccination exercise going smoothly at Ablekuma Central District

Accra, August 18, GNA – The second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination exercise in the Ablekuma Central District in the Greater Accra Region is progressing smoothly.

The district has been identified by the Ghana Health Service as one of the COVID-19 hotspots in the region.

 

A visit by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) to some centres within the district showed that the exercise was going on without hitches.

 

Madam Christiana Ashetey, a supervisor at the St. Luke Methodist Abossey Okai, in an interview with GNA, expressed satisfaction about the exercise and the conduct of the public.

 

She, however, said there were some challenges at the initial stage of the exercise when some members of the public refused to give priority to the aged.

 

She said eligible persons who did not take the AstraZeneca vaccines were the ones being allowed to take doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

 

She encouraged the public to visit vaccination centres for their jabs to help curtail the spread of the disease.

 

She said a total number of 500 people have been vaccinated so far.

 

The situation was not different at the Amarh Memorial Center, Zongo Junction.

 

The people were in a queue observing the COVID-19 protocols while waiting patiently for their turn to take the jab.

 

Mr Macbeth Osei Owusu Boateng, a supervisor at the Centre, told GNA that all the necessary equipment needed for the exercise were intact, adding that they had not encountered any challenge since the commencement of the program.

 

He said a total number of 300 people had so far taken their jabs at the Centre.

 

At the Abossey Okai Centre, the Officer in charge, Mr Roland Nettey in an interview with GNA, bemoaned the lack of chairs as he explained that some of the aged had to stand and queue for their jabs.

 

Some people, who had already taken their jabs, expressed satisfaction about the exercise and commended the government for the initiative.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

UE Regional Hospital short of anaesthetic machines

Bolgatanga, The Upper East Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga, a major referral centre for the Region, has only one malfunctioning anaesthetic machine in its main theatre for surgical operations.

The hospital had five anaesthetic machines, three were received in 2007 as part of the expansion project of the hospital, one was received in 2008 from the Ministry of Health (MoH) and in 2017, the Ministry again supplied another anaesthetic machine to the facility.

 

Out of the five anaesthetic machines which are all broken down, theatre staff has over the years, managed with only one, which frequently breaks down in spite of several repair works done on it over the years.

 

This came to light when the Upper East Regional Minister, Mr Stephen Yakubu paid a working visit to the Regional Hospital to familiarise himself with the hospital environment and interact with the staff of the facility.

 

The Anaesthetic machine, mainly acts as artificial lungs and delivers oxygen to patients on anaesthesia medications who undergo major surgical operations, and also monitors such patients.

 

Mr Thomas Lambon, the Anaesthetist of the Hospital who expressed concern about the malfunctioning machine during the Minister’s visit, said, “We are using a malfunctioning machine. If it were in Korle-Bu or Okomfo Anokye, they will not use such on human beings, but we are still managing with it.”

 

He said even though management and the Upper East Regional Director of the GHS were aware of the malfunctioning machine, and had over some time tried to keep it functioning, the machine had failed them on several occasions.

 

He, therefore, appealed to the Regional Minister to assist the facility with a new anaesthetic machine, which was critical equipment in the operation theatre.

 

Dr Aiden Suntaa Saanwie, the Acting Medical Director of the Hospital who corroborated the condition of the anaesthetic machine, said, “Indeed the Hospital is running on some obsolete equipment.

 

“We are trying to bring a technician to reassess and see what can be done in the interim. Buying a new one is the ultimate, but we are not sure when that can be done”, he said.

 

He said management was working to resolve some teething issues of the Hospital, which militated against effective health service delivery, and were within their purview.

 

Mr Yakubu encouraged staff who expressed interest to leave the Region, some of whom were from the Hospital that, “I believe that this Hospital is going to change for the better. I can see that management is working hard to change things.”

 

He said the issue of malfunctioning equipment in the operation theatre and those at other units would soon be solved when the second phase of the Hospital was fully fixed.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

Mass Drug Administration for onchocerciasis to begin next Monday

Accra, The Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Programme of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) will from August 23 to September 6, 2021, begin a Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for onchocerciasis in endemic regions in the country.

The exercise will be carried out in 66 districts across 13 regions as part of efforts to eliminate onchocerciasis from Ghana.

 

Children less than five years old, pregnant mothers, and seriously ill inhabitants in some endemic districts will be exempted from the exercise.

 

In Ghana, MDA is done twice in a year to ensure that every eligible person living in a defined geographical area, regardless of whether or not they are infected receives a single dose of the ivermectin drug.

 

The ivermectin medication have been used to control onchocerciasis and currently, it is being used to ensure the elimination of the disease from those infected and uninfected.

 

The GHS has indicated that the MDA, which has been implemented over several years, can significantly control and eliminate the burden of onchocerciasis.

 

Currently, 137 districts remain endemic for onchocerciasis in Ghana and the Ashanti region has the highest number of endemic districts.

 

Onchocerciasis is an infection caused by a parasitic worm called Onchocerca volvulus. It spreads by the bite of an infected blackfly known scientifically as Simulium.

 

It is also called river blindness because the blackfly that transmits the infection breeds in rapidly flowing rivers and streams and bites people living in settlements nearby and causes them to go blind.

 

Persons with heavy infections as a result of repeated bites by infected blackflies usually develop conditions such as unrelenting itching, unsightly skin disease, nodules under the skin, or eye disease which results in severe visual impairment and blindness.

 

The control of onchocerciasis in Ghana has been very successful, with an average high infection level of 69.13 percent in 1975, decreasing significantly to a very low level of 0.72 percent in 2015.

 

The most at risk of onchocerciasis are people who live or work near rapidly flowing streams or rivers where there are Simulium blackfly breeding sites.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

UTAG suspends Strike, NLC and Employment Ministry to discontinue legal process

Accra, The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has agreed to suspend its strike, following an emergency meeting with the National Labour Commission (NLC) and the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations.

This is contained in a Memorandum of Agreement between the government and the UTAG, copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

 

Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, the Minister of Education, signed for the government while Professor Charles Ofosu Marfo, National President of UTAG, signed on behalf of the Association.

 

UTAG and the government in the Memorandum agreed to begin negotiations on the matter from Monday, August 23, 2021.

 

It also agreed that the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, in conjunction with the National Labour Commission, would take steps to discontinue all legal processes against UTAG while UTAG would also take steps to suspend the ongoing strike action.

 

The statement said the government acknowledged the need to improve the working conditions of University teachers and would treat the agreement with all the seriousness it deserved.

 

NLC secured the court injunction against UTAG’ s strike on August 2, arguing that the law barred UTAG from proceeding on the industrial action when negotiations were underway.

 

UTAG is demanding the implementation of a 2012 Single Spine package, which put entry-level lecturers on a salary of $2,084.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

Cardinal journalistic function has changed – Prof Millar

Bolgatanga, Professor Dr David Millar, the President of the Millar Institute for Transdisciplinary and Development (MITDS) in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region, says, the days when mainstream media decided what is newsworthy is no more.

He said in the digital age, members of the public acted as eyewitnesses, publishers, authors, and increasingly the breakers of news stories.

 

“The cardinal journalistic function of gatekeeper has changed. Today, the gates remain permanently opened and there is no need for gatekeepers anymore.”

 

Speaking at the 86th Anniversary lecture of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) in Bolgatanga, on the theme; “GBC @ 86, the role of the public broadcaster in the digital environment,” the Professor said journalistic notions of factual reporting, accuracy, and balance were challenged.

 

He said such principles were even questioned by the audience that it served with the increasing dominance of social media, adding, “The audience is moving away from being consumers of news to both consumers and producers of news.”

 

Prof Dr Millar noted that news generated in social media might not present the full picture, as it might be partial, partisan or a deliberately distorted view of an event, “But that is the order of the day, and people are going for it.

 

“The insistence on the factual, ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ of any news story, which traditionally underpinned journalism, generally has been eroded by digital realities and possibilities. News is no longer what we take time to watch or listen to, news is what we do on the go,” he said.

 

He said since the drumbeat of journalism had changed, GBC being a public broadcaster also needed to change its dance moves with innovative programming to remain competitive in the digital world.

 

He said GBC had accordingly managed and launched into the digital space, and currently operates five digital channels, namely; Ghana Television (GTV) Sport plus, GTV Life, GTV Govern, GBC24, Obonu TV, and one analog GTV main.

 

“GBC also operates 18 Frequency Modulated (FM) Regional radio stations with programmes to suit its clientele across the country, he added.

 

He said for GBC to succeed, there was the need for more challenging digital programming, which must be balanced and well-coordinated to conform to a tried and tested code of practice and ethics, impeccable and sensitive to the tastes, needs, and sensibilities of its varied audiences.

 

Mr Ebenezer Kwamina Onumah, the Upper East Regional Director of the GBC, used the opportunity to appeal to stakeholders in the Region to assist the Corporation with a vehicle to facilitate staff mobility into the interior parts of the Region for news.

 

He said if GBC in the Region was given the needed support from stakeholders, it would double its effort to ensure that activities within the Region were well publicised for the goals and aspirations of the central government to be achieved.

 

Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Upper East Regional Minister, said GBC was a vehicle for development in the Region as its programmes had the capacity to influence the behavioural pattern of residents of the Region.

 

Mr Yakubu wished the GBC well, as it celebrated its 86th Anniversary, and GNA.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

MESTI to support LUSPA to assert its influence

Accra, The Ministry of Environment, Science Technology and Innovation (MESTI) has signalled its commitment to lead the process to ensure that the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority (LUSPA) fully assert its influence within its remits.

The move would enable the Authority to enforce its laws and reclaim and preserve green zones in the country.

 

These green zones include; Ramsar sites and other international designated spots under the criteria of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands for containing representative, rare or unique wetland types or for their importance in conserving biological diversity.

 

Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, was responding to an appeal made by the leadership of LUSPA, to amend its legal framework to enable them to wield more authority to sanitise the system.

 

During a familiarisation visit in Accra, the Minister explained that because part of the Authority’s mandate had been ceded to the local assembly as part of the decentralization process, LUSPA’s success would depend on the output at the operations at the local level.

 

However, he thought that the Authority at its headquarters needed to be given some form of control to monitor and enforce a part of the spatial planning laws.

 

The Minister, therefore, admitted the need to enhance the working relationships between the Authority and other Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAS) at all levels of governance, within the context of the Decentralization Programme.

 

According to its setup, LUSPA at its national level is responsible for policy formulation, standards-setting, training, monitoring, and evaluation, among others.

 

Dr Afriyie assured that; “We will look at the law, seek for further interpretation and where there are gaps, we will rectify through amendment.

 

“When you are proclaimed authority in the narrowest sense of the word, it means you have the power to crack the whip, “he said.

 

On his part, Mr Kwadwo Yeboah, the Acting Head of LUSPA, indicated that due to the nature of its operating structure, the Authority had continued to receive complaints against the spatial planning practices in the country, especially, at the local level of operation for alleged negligence of duty, poor performance, and unprofessional practices.

 

He said, for instance, a recent monitoring exercise had revealed that 60 percent of district assembles do not adhere to the land use and spatial planning functions as prescribed by law.

 

Mr Yeboah explained that effective land use and spatial planning leads to improved economic growth, orderly human settlements, improved safety, the convenience of movements, and beautification of spaces.

 

He said even though an appreciable level of progress had been made over the past four years, there were more opportunities to be explored to further transform the Authority into a more effective and efficient institution in the discharge of its mandate.

 

Therefore, the Authority had started building strategic partnerships with the relevant stakeholders to embark on a programme that would involve the sensitisation and education of the public on planning issues.

 

It was also building the skills and capacity of its planners at all levels of governance, Mr Yeboah said.

 

He, however, appealed to the Minister to help the Authority to establish the land use and spatial planning development fund as prescribed by the law, and also lobby for the increment of its budgetary allocation, as well as to support it to construct a new office space.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

Ghana developing first Biodiversity Policy to protect nature

Accra, Ghana is developing its first Biodiversity Policy aimed at reducing threats to its over 6,000 flora and fauna to promote the sustainable utilization of biodiversity and benefits sharing to meet the people’s needs.

The draft policy, which is at the consultation stage, is in line with the post-2020 global biodiversity conservation framework, an agenda to galvanize urgent and transformative action by Governments and all of society to preserve and protect nature in the next ten years.

 

Dr Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Environment, Science Technology and Innovation (MESTI), disclosed this at a national dialogue on institutional and financial mainstreaming of Biodiversity conservation in Ghana.

 

The day’s event, among other objectives, sought to review Ghana’s effort towards the post-2020 global biodiversity conservation framework.

 

It was also to take stock of the current biodiversity conservation policies and experience in using the landscape approach to conservation.

 

The dialogue was jointly held by MESTI, the UNDP Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme and Weto Platform to identify areas of joint action in developing integrated approaches for the conservation, sustainable finance and mainstreaming of biodiversity in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS).

 

Dr Afriyie stated that biodiversity supported food security by providing raw genetic material for improved crop and livestock varieties and provided opportunities for indigenous and other communities to cultivate market niches based on traditional knowledge and livelihood practices.

 

He said the major drivers of biodiversity loss including, over-exploitation, pollution, invasive alien species, and climate change – have remained unaddressed.

 

Dr Afriyie said there was the need to reflect and recast the idea of sustainable development by marrying sustainability and biodiversity along with their relationships in more detail outlining some of the major approaches to biodiversity management and regulation.

 

“Our strategy should move from general principles of sustainability to concrete actions that are rooted in biodiversity conservation. Decisions about sustainability must either accommodate multiple viewpoints, values and interests or they must force some people to compromise,” he said.

 

He said biodiversity contributed to numerous ecosystem processes that support ecological, economic, and social wellbeing.

 

The Minister mentioned that biodiversity enhanced the ability of ecosystems, including heavily modified ecosystems such as those found in farms, gardens, cities, and towns to cope with climatic and environmental shocks.

 

Madam Angela Lusigi, UNDP Representative to Ghana, in a statement delivered on her behalf, said the COVID-19 pandemic and other emerging crises such as climate change were stark realities and a reminder of the consequences of ecological fragility and complexity.

 

She noted the pandemic had been devastating but the outbreaks were likely to escalate in the future unless the development pathways and humans’ relationship with nature were remade.

 

“A key takeaway from COVID-19 is that our ability to prevent complex global crises rests on our ability to put in place a new generation of development policies that put nature at the centre. Biodiversity conservation is key to our future as it contributes to the achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals,” she said.

 

Referencing the UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the occasion of this year’s World Environment Day, said: “Science tells us these next 10 years are our final chance to avert a climate catastrophe, turn back the deadly tide of pollution and end species loss. So let today be the start of a new decade – one in which we finally make peace with nature and secure a better future for all.”

 

Madam Lusigi stated that the draft post-2020 global biodiversity framework would be the key platform to further scale up actions in the developing countries in the coming years to build the resilience of communities and ecosystems.

 

“This requires reducing the intensity of development’s ecological footprint to ensure the resilience of the biosphere, with healthy and diverse ecosystems,” she noted.

 

Dr George Ortin of UNDP Global Environmental Facility Small Grant Programme, sharing lessons from the Weto socio-ecological production, said landscape restoration must be a national priority and specific attention must be paid to the landscape approach to biodiversity conservation.

 

He said it must include key issues such as livelihood enterprises development, strengthening of local institutions and transparent governance systems at the heart of the country’s development efforts.

 

He said the incorporation of strategies to promote biodiversity conservation within socio-ecological production landscapes must be a national priority and specific attention must be paid to the landscape approach to biodiversity conservation.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency