New Beginnings

Expectant parents will be happy to know that good health during pregnancy is of primary concern to the Ghanaian government.  Health care here has been steadily improving, with a reported substantial drop in maternal death rates in recent years. 

Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Health designate, explained the next steps in health care reform when she appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament last week.  If picked to head the ministry, Ayittey promised to ensure that health centres provide adequate care for expectant moms.  She spoke, too, of the government’s promised support for health care practitioners who are turning the tide of reliance on superstitious practices and ensuring that mothers receive adequate medical attention during pregnancy, although she also assured listeners that the Public Health Act will support the inclusion of traditional medicine in new health care centres.

Ms Ayittey made excellent suggestions for an increased nursing presence and higher doctor/patient ratios in communities.  In addition to the new centres, phones and motorbikes provided to nurses would ensure that adequate care is available to all.  As well, she revealed the government’s commitment to providing every district with ambulance services.

Improving health care is a top concern for Ghana, and it looks as though the government is ready to deliver by instituting substantial, palpable reforms.  Indeed, the new president’s term heralds both tangible changes and figurative ones.

In an announcement this week, President John Mahama confirmed that the government offices and Presidential residence have moved from the historic Osu Castle to the Flagstaff House.  Although the move constitutes a literal change of venue, it also represents the dawn of a new era.

Controversy over the move has given way to celebration.  The former president, John Evans Atta Mills, refused to relocate to the building, which had been renovated at large expense, citing security issues.  The ensuing delay in relocation has been criticized as a waste of the country’s resources.  However, with President Mahama fulfilling his promise to the people by spearheading the move, Ghanaians can finally see their renovated government edifice put to the use for which it was intended.

The relocation signals the government’s commitment to inclusion, as, traditionally, the public has not been allowed within the Castle or its grounds despite the institution’s prominent role in Ghanaian history.  “The Castle is a store house of rich history from the era of the slave trade to our pre and immediate post colonial period and also provides us with a glimpse into the history of the immediate past presidents and other leaders before them,” the President explained in a recent statement.  

Now, however, Mahama declares that Osu Castle, the seat of government here in Ghana for five decades, will be thrown open to public viewing.  The area of the Castle and the adjoining Asomdwee Park has previously been closed to the public and photographs have been prohibited.  Ghanaians will finally be able to visit this beautiful and historic edifice and its surrounding grounds.

As an added bonus for the country, the opening to the public of this landmark is sure to have a positive effect on tourism.  “This will be of immense interest to both local and international tourists,” the President added.


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