Debates of 4 Feb 2014

PRAYERS 10:40 a.m.


Mr Justice Joe Appiah 10:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker, on page 7 --
“The Votes and Proceedings of the Third Sitting held on Thursday, 30th January, 2014 were adopted as the true record of proceedings”
“Proceedings” and “proceedings” -- I think it is tautology; it has to be changed.
Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
The first one (“Proceed-
ings”) refers to the document. The docu- ment is called “Votes and Proceedings”. The second one, “proceedings” is an affirmation of the fact that it reflects what transpired on the floor of the House. The
Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Mr First Deputy Speak- er?
Mr First Deputy Speaker 10:46 a.m.
Hon Mem- bers, a Statement has been admitted. It is to deal with World Cancer Day. It is in the name of the Hon Member for Offinso North Constituency.
STATEMENTS 10:46 a.m.

Mr Augustine C. Ntim (NPP -- Of- finso North) 10:46 a.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to make a Statement on the menace of cancer.
Mr Speaker, today, 4th February, 2014, we join the rest of the world in com- memorating World Cancer Day under the theme: “Dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer', under the tagline, “Debunk the myths”.
Mr Speaker, the theme draws attention to the crucial need to improve awareness and knowledge about cancer and its risk factors to better protect individuals and communities. It is only through education that the myths surrounding cancer can be dispelled.
Mr Speaker, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about cancer; and we need to know the truth to better protect ourselves.
Mr Speaker, cancer is not caused by an injury, such as a bump or a bruise. Cancer
is not contagious. Although infections by certain viruses or bacteria, may increase the risk of some types of cancers, no one can get cancer from another person. It is important to know the real facts about cancer prevention and control and that is why awareness day like today is very important.
Mr Speaker, this day helps cancer patients to build resilience and hope. On this day, we should be united and show solidarity to cancer patients and help fight against cancer which has emerged as a serious public health concern over the past decades.
Cancer, Mr Speaker, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unreg- ulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malig- nant tumours, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the body through the lymphatic system or bloodstream. It is important to state that not all tumours are cancerous.
Mr Speaker, the causes of cancer have been grouped into three 10:46 a.m.
the first is phys- ical carcinogens, such as ultraviolet and ionising radiation; the second is chemical carcinogens, such as asbestos, com- ponents of tobacco smoke, aflatoxin (a food contaminant) and arsenic (a drinking water contaminant).
Mr Speaker, while urging our farmers on for their good work, I would like to encourage them, especially farmers in Ofinso North, to wear protective clothes to avoid chemical carcinogens.
The third is biological carcinogens, such as infections from certain viruses, bacteria or parasites.
Mr Speaker, tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are the main cancer risk factors worldwide. Physical inactivity is one risk factor for non-communicable diseases, which is modifiable and therefore, of great poten- tial public health significance --
“Changing the level of physical activity raises challenges for the individual but also at societal level,”
Said Chris Wild, the Director of the Inter- national Agency for Research on Cancer
Mr Speaker, the burden of cancer in Africa is huge and it is increasing. Accord- ing to World Health Organisation Director for Africa, Dr Luis Sambo, the WHO estimates that in 2008, there were about 681,000 new cases of cancer in Africa, and 512,000 people died of the disease.
It is projected that should the current trend continue, by 2030, these figures will rise to 1.6 million new cases with 1.2 million deaths. According to Dr Kofi Men- sah Nyarko, the Programmes Manager for Non-Communicable Disease Control Programme, of the Disease Control and Prevention Department of Ghana Health Service, about 16,000 new cases of cancer occur every year in Ghana.
This trend is mainly related to rapid urbanisation, unhealthy work environ- en- vironments, and the use of child labour, which increases exposure to cancer-caus- ing factors. Knowledge about the causes of cancer and interventions to prevent and manage the disease is crucial.
Mr Speaker, cancer can be reduced and controlled by implementing evi- dence-based strategies for cancer pre- vention, early detection of cancer and management of patients with cancer.
Alhaji Mohammed 10:50 a.m.

taka (NDC -- Asawase): Mr Speaker, I rise to support my Hon Colleague, the Deputy Ranking Member for the Committee on Health for this wonderful Statement.

Mr Speaker, over the years, Parlia- ment, on a day like this, has always had a Statement of this nature. Unfortunately, we do not normally refer the Statement to the Ministry of Health for the necessary action and I should be very grateful if this Statement is referred to the Ministry for some necessary action to be taken.

Mr Speaker, this is because cancer is becoming a very big problem in our coun- try. Unfortunately, many of us thought it could only affect adults. Today, there are new cases that affect children, sometimes
Dr Matthew O. Prempeh (NPP -- Manhyia North) 11 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Hon Member for Offinso North for making this Statement.

Mr Speaker, to support the suggestion that his Statement be referred to the Min- istry of Health, just as the Hon Member for Asawase alluded to, it is important that priority is given to non-communi- cable diseases in this country.When we talk about non-communicable diseases, I mean diseases that could quickly kill, like diabetes, hypertension and cancer, which he has elaborately spoken about.

Mr Speaker, we need a Cancer Reg- istry where people who unfortunately find themselves in communities where the nation has not geared herself towards cancer treatment and support, are dying. This would be recorded, so that we get to know the cancer morbidity statistics in this country.

Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Offinso North has made a very good in- tervention with this Statement and I think that you would use your good offices to direct the Ministry of Health to come up with the policy of addressing non-com- municable diseases that are currently the number one killer. Gone are the days when infectious diseases like Malaria were killing us more. Now, we are dying more of diabetes and hypertension and cancers, giving us strokes and heart attacks very early in our lives.

Mr Speaker, thank you in support of the Statement.
Ms Rosemund C. Abrah (NPP -- Weija-Gbawe) 11 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
I rise to support the Statement just being made on cancers in general. Not quite long ago, I think we celebrated World Breast Cancer Day and a lot of the statements made on the floor and the contributions showed that in fact, cancer is just emerging as the number one killer disease in the world.
I would like to concentrate on com- menting on the two which are very dis- astrous and eating into the very fabric of health in this country. That is the breast cancer for the women and then the prostate cancer for the men.
Studies have shown that -- even it may interest us to know that breast can- cer is vigorously attacking men as well. [Interruption.] Yes, in the United States of America (USA). I did not bring my script today, that is why I rushed for his just now. I have figures on that. Please, we must be very much aware and we see how prostate cancer too is affecting men and he has enumerated a whole lot of causes and symptoms.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon Member, are you up on a point of order?
Mr I. K. Asiamah 11 a.m.
Rightly so. Mr Speaker, I am just being curious.
The Hon Colleague did say that breast cancer affects men and I am curious. Just a bit of education to Hon Members here. How does it affect men? That is my concern.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11 a.m.
I think it is a matter of fact. It does affect some men.
Ms Abrah 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, if the Table Office will allow me, tomorrow, I will bring studies that I have done in US. That is why I rushed for his copy. I do not have it now. But it is attacking men. Breast cancer is attacking men.
Now, speaking about how to detect the breast cancer, I commend the Ministry of Health for deducing a very simple method whereby women can have their breasts screened themselves in their homes. But looking at cervical cancer which attacks the female organs, the detection is very costly and it is not as simple. In the hospitals, like previous contributors have said, we now have to detect it using either mammograms or pap-smearing, which is very expensive.
I did pap-smearing at a hospital in Tema and if I tell you the cost involved, I do not think our citizenry or the masses of people can contract this. So, by this, I would appeal to the Ministry of Health to come down by either -- like Hon Majority Chief Whip suggested -- that we divulge it to maybe, the district hospitals. This is because in the public hospitals, it is only at the teaching hospitals that you can have this. So, that is one factor. Detecting cervical cancer is not easy to come by because, not all women can have access to the mammograms and the pap-smearing that are used for detection.
In fact, it has to concern us, because in the studies made by Dr Wiafe -- who has taken upon herself to do this breast cancer, she alleged that Ghana is ranked tenth in the whole world among breast cancer cas- es and this should be very worrisome to the Health Ministry, to the Government, to the citizenry, to us as Members of Parliament and how we can help solve this problem.
I end on the note of lifestyles also, heavy alcohol intakes. Some lifestyles can also land us into this.
With these few contributions, I thank the maker of the Statement and thank you for giving me audience.

Mr Govers K. Agbodza (NDC --

Adaklu): Mr Speaker, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement made by my Hon Colleague. I think this Statement is very timely and important.

We all know that cancer cases in this country are becoming a problem. Where- as we know that some of these cancers could be genetic, which may be difficult to treat, I think much of it has got to do with lifestyles. I hear a lot of people talk- ing about-- we need to provide this, we need to do this. The fact is that, over the period, governments in this country have done something to invest in health- care delivery in this country.

But I do not think building more hos- pitals and equipping them is enough to stop the menace. Fortunately or unfortu- nately, certain cancers or most cancers are lifestyle diseases. In other words, if you notice, in this country, when you see your friend eat Banku in the morning, boiled yam in the afternoon and Fufu in the evening in big quantities and you decide to caution him or her, they tell you; “This is what our grandparents have done over the years and nothing happened.”

They have forgotten that the uncle in the village who ate Banku in the morning actually walked, maybe, five kilometers to the farm. By the time he gets there, he has probably burnt half of that and by the time he is back, half is gone. You ate Banku in the morning and the longest distance you walked was between your bedroom and your car. You came, for instance, sat in this Chamber for five hours and then walked back to your car. The longest exercise you have done in the day is less than ten min- utes and you still do not understand why we are more susceptible to contract these diseases than our parents or colleagues in the village.

So, just by saying that our grandparents eat Banku, Fufu and boiled yam and are
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon Members, we will take in as many contri- butions as possible. Just exercise patience.
Mr William K. Sabi (NPP -- Dormaa East) 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the Hon Member who made the Statement for hammering on this important condi- tion that is affecting a lot of people in the country.
In my short research, you would realise that there are about three, four forms that are common in Ghana -- breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer and liver cancer. You would realise that all these affect almost everybody in the country,
except the fact that prostate cancer relates only to men.
Alhaji Muntaka 11:10 a.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, I would want to draw my Hon Colleague's attention that since the amendment to the National Health Insurance (NHIS) Bill, prostate cancer is now covered under the National Health Insurance. That information should be on board, so that the public do not think prostate cancer is not covered. It is now covered.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Thank you for the information.
Hon Member, continue.
Mr Sabi 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I thank the
Hon Member for the information. But this is not known to many people and I think it is very important we alert people that this is covered under the NHIS because it is very important.
Mr Speaker, with these few words, I associate myself with the Statement.
Mrs Gifty E. Kusi (NPP -- Tark- wa-Nsuaem) 11:20 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Collins Ntim.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who made the Statement said that “this day
helps cancer patients to build resilience and hope”. Mr Speaker, I know that most cancer patients, once some people go to the hospital and they are told that they have cancer, they lose all hope to live. But as we observe and mark this day, we know that they also have hope to live, only if the disease is detected early. Most patients are cured; in fact, some patients are cured -- not most.
Mr Speaker, from the statistics that the Hon Member gave, he said that there were 681,000 new cases of cancer in 2008 and out of that 512,000 people died. Mr Speak- er, if you do a quick arithmetic, it means 160,000 people survived. Mr Speaker, any patient, diagnosed early can be part of those who survived.
So, I am happy that he made this Statement and today people are becoming aware that if cancer is detected very early, it can be cured.
Mr Speaker, another issue that I would want to draw our attention to, is the fact that people do not take screening serious. People tend to use the health services only when they are sick. But I would also want to urge the National Health Insurance and insurance companies, to include screening as part of their services to ensure that at least, once a year, every person who is insured goes through screening to detect some of these diseases which are starting or which may start to disturb the people.
Mr Speaker, I learnt that insurance companies abroad, never renew policies unless you produce a certificate of screen- ing to show your status before renewing your insurance.
Mr Speaker, I think we should adopt this method in Ghana and encourage peo- ple to screen, not only go to the hospital when they are sick, but to screen them- selves to know whatever is wrong and whether their health status is correct or not.
Mr Speaker, I also think that cancer is in many forms, but the major ones that
have been described are very serious and taking a real toll on our people here in Ghana.
Mr Speaker, another type of cancer that is also affecting a lot of people is leukemia; that is blood cancer. Mr Speaker, that is also very serious and a lot of cases are now found in our hospitals where people are dying of leukemia.
The Hon Member who made the Statement also identified three causes of cancer in three groups. Mr Speaker, he talked about physical carcinogens which are caused by ultraviolet and ionising radiation. Sometimes, it is not our fault that we go through radiation. You are sick, you go to hospital and they say you should go for an x-ray and you do that without knowing that you are causing a lot of harm to your body.
Another aspect that he also identified is the use of asbestos. Mr Speaker, I have never heard of any radio announcements or anything warning people not to use asbestos. So, I would want to encourage the Ministry of Health to let people know the dangers involved in using asbestos as roofing sheets and other things that they do in this country. I think we can prevent a lot of cancer cases in Ghana.
As for tobacco and alcohol use, there are a lot of advertisements but people are not just listening to them.
I would want to urge smokers and alco- hol users that they are killing themselves gradually and that they should desist from excessive smoking and taking of alcohol.
Mr Speaker, I thank you so much for the opportunity to contribute. This is be- cause I know that knowledge they say, is power, and knowing the causes of cancer and knowing the ways to prevent it would go a long way to help us live healthy.
With these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.

Mr Samuel Atta Akyea (NPP --
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Member, are you familiar with the terminology?
Mr Akyea 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am baffled -- [Laughter.]As a lawyer, I am baffled by some of these things. But what is very important, in my view, is the spiritual dimension, especially the spiritual set-up attached to the cancer disease. In my view, we are always confused about what is sci- entific and treatable -- What the medical people can solve and what is spiritual.
That line has cost a lot of lives. Some- body has a serious disease, maybe, a lump in the breast. Instead of going to see a doctor to help her out of the crisis, you find this individual in a prayer camp and all manner of prayers would have gone on to try and help what most, probably, will be a medical condition. My view on some of these matters, is that everybody should first try what is scientific. Go and see a doctor first and the doctor should diagnose that this is beyond the powers of medicine, then we can invoke the spiritual because sometimes we might confuse it and the consequences might be tragic.
As of now, we are not sure what we should eat, so, we do not have cancers. I have seen individuals who have been jogging in the morning; they are doing all manner of things to their bodies and they have special dieticians who advise them. Nevertheless, even the young ones are contracting this disease.
I am of the view that we as a people, should also start the whole project of try- ing to discover what causes cancer and probably, come out with the medicine that

will solve this problem. I am tempted to believe that this is not beyond us.

One of the problems we face is that, anything which we cannot find solutions, we leave it to the whiteman. I am inviting our scientists to come together in Ghana and also investigate because I even heard sometime back that some people had dis- covered traditional medicines to combate the HIV/AIDS disease.

So, why do we also not look into our resources and see that we can look at this problem of cancer and that could be a ma- jor foreign exchange return to this nation if it is ever found by our scientists that Ghana has discovered the cure for cancer?

Mr Speaker, these are the few things I would like to say and I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Thank you very much.
Dr Richard W. Anane (NPP -- Nhy- iaeso) 11:20 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to associate with the statement ably delivered by the Hon Member.
Mr Speaker, I am just going to say a few words in support of this Statement and in so doing, I would want to draw attention, especially to our population dynamics the fact that today because of the advancement in life and develop- ments that we are going through in our country, we are now living longer.
This means that our life expectancy is, which used to be in the early 1950s, today, is in the mid-1960s. Cancer generally tends to be associated with advancing age even though children may have cancers and people within their middle ages may also have but in general, cancer tends to be associated with advancing age and be- cause of that, we tend to be worried more when the population is having a higher life expectancy. But Mr Speaker, everybody will want to live longer.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Mem- bers, let us have some order.
Dr Anane 11:20 a.m.
What we tend to be most worried about happens to be cancers of the breast and cancers of the genital urinal tract.
Mr Speaker, in the case of the urinal tract, cancers especially of the cervix, tend to be one of the most worrisome for us in this country. It is therefore, most gratifying to find that in Ghana, we have found it necessary to introduce the vaccine against the pablona virus, which tends to propagate the case of cancer of the cervix.
But why it has been contained within only two regions in Ghana, is what some of us find a bit worrisome. Mr Speaker, how come that the Central Region and the Volta Region are the only regions which are benefiting from this programme? Why is it that the remaining eight regions have not been given the opportunity to benefit from this? This is because it is a known fact that when people are given this vaccine, they have a lesser chance of de- veloping the cancer of the cervix. I would want to commend another Colleague of ours, Beatrice Wiafe, who has been the advocate for breast cancer in the country for the time being.
Beatrice has, at least, created more awareness for breast cancer and we must make it clear to all of us that breast cancer is not restricted to only females; breast cancer can happen also to males and therefore, the fact that, maybe Beatrice is more concerned with the women, does not mean that we the men may also not have to think seriously about it.
Yes, our attention has been drawn to the fact that when the National Health In- surance Act was passed the last time, they found it necessary to add cervical cancer as well as prostrate cancer to be catered for under the law.
It is true but we must also appreciate
that it is not everybody who really knows or appreciates where to even go for a screening in order to benefit from what we have enacted by law. Perhaps, there will be the need for more information for the public to appreciate the need to take advantage of the provisions of the law and go in for as many screenings as possible, so that they do not fall victim to these cancers, especially of the cervix and of the prostate.
We must also know and note that in recent times, cancer, of especially, the upper ear tracks, the nosofying throat cancers, seem very common in some of our budding young men and others. We must look at this and take note, espe- cially when we have a little change in our voice when we speak and find that there is some problem with our vocation, we must make sure we have the relevant medical professional have a look at us, so that we do not end up that way.
Mr Speaker, I think that today, as is being celebrated, is a day for all of us to be reminded that a cancer can occur to any one of us, especially because of the fact that we are fortunate to be among the group who may live longer even though anybody can die today.
The fact that we are going to live longer, implies that we may eventually have the opportunity, in quotes: “of per- haps contracting one of these cancers” and so, we may have to start thinking about going for the appropriate screening where it is to be available in the country. We believe that if we are able to do so, eventually, many of us who may have had to contract some of these cancers, may not end up and have the treatment which will at least, get a cure at the very early stage.
Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would want to congratulate our Hon Colleague for drawing our attention to this canker.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:20 a.m.
All right, the last contribution.
Mr Justice Joe Appiah (NPP--Able- kuma North) 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, cancer can be prevented if Ghanaians live on organic foods. Organic food can be found in our markets, on our farm lands. But Ghanaians are fond of consuming canned foods and this causes cancer. [Interruption.]
Dr Prempeh 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, we can all agree that Hon Members speak with passion and excitement but to make a statement, a definitive statement -- He will win a Nobel Prize in medicine if his statements were to be true.
Mr Speaker, I am cautioning him to be
on the lighter side, so that we can all be excited; but definitive statements that we cannot be sure of, please, take caution.
Mr J. J. Appiah 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, Ghana- ians, we like taking too much salt -- [In- terruption] -- And Fufu, Banku and Kokonte in excess. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, if these starchy foods are min- imised, and we exercise our bodies, I do not think we would have cancer in this country.
With these few words, I thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Members, this brings us to the end of this Statement. But if I get the sense of the House, I would want to direct that the Table Office makes both the Statement and the contributions of Hon Members available to the Ministry of Health for the necessary action.
Dr Prempeh 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I rise on Order 72 to ask your permission to speak on a matter of urgency on an issue that, if you would allow, I would like the House to take a position on.
On the sudden introduction of road tolls in the University of Ghana that is affecting our work, especially with reference to the Hansards for 2010 -- July 22nd, 26th, 27th, and July 29th when the University of
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader --
Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, my attention has been drawn to the fact that the Committee in charge of Roads has invited the Hon Minister to discuss the particular issue. So, I would wish that we defer it until that emergency meeting with the Hon Minister takes place before we can hear the comments of the Hon Member on the matter.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Very well.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I think it is a good thing that the Committee may want to do -- Act pro- actively to relate to matters within their remit. Unfortunately, the convention in this House has been that not until a spe- cific referral is made to a Committee, the Committee cannot on its own, conduct investigations and report to this House.
In that regard, if Mr Speaker can rein- force what the Committee is already doing by having it properly referred to them and reported to this House, I think it would not be out of the ordinary.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Mem- bers, we have heard a few comments made about this particular issue and it is quite disturbing and so, I would want to direct that the matter be sent to the Committee on Roads and Transport, so that they seriously look into the matter and submit a report to this House for its action.
I think that satisfies Dr Prempeh's concern?
Dr Prempeh 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, it does actually satisfy my concern. But I would pray that you would let the Committee on Education participate in that debate as well, since it is a matter to do with the Uni-
versity of Ghana. But I do agree with you.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Very well, if Hon Members feel that we should add the Committee on Education, we would. I direct that the Committee on Education should be part of them but I think we need to give them time-lines. So, we should expect a report within the next two weeks. Would that be alright? Yes.
Thank you very much.
Dr Kunbuor 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, we can take item numer 4 (a) and (b).
PAPERS 11:30 a.m.

Dr Kunbuor 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, in the ab- sence of any other Business, I beg to move, that the House adjourns to Wednesday, the 5th of February, 2014 in the forenoon.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I believe the Hon Majority Lead- er did not address himself to the listed committee meetings. And may I draw the attention of such committees listed to transact the business which have been listed for them.
Mr Speaker, it is important that at this very outset, now that we are beginning a new Session, and now that the various committees have been given their own allocations, they should sit to programme their activities such that, as we approach the end of the Meeting, we would not crowd Leadership with their own activ- ities, so that we can have a better pro- gramming of activities to enable all of them conduct their various referrals and businesses in a very systematic manner.
Having said so, Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion moved by the Hon
Majority Leader for adjournment.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Thank you very much.
I think it is worth considering that issue seriously, so that we can get the reports forthcoming for a lot of work to be done in the early stages of the Session rather than crowding the end.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 11:30 a.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 11.39 a.m. till Wednesday, 5th February, 2013 at 10.00 a.m.
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