24 January, 2007 1st DWIB Seminar on Leukaemia for the Ghanaian Media.

Posted on: 2007-02-13

DWIB has carried out a half-day’s Seminar on issues related to Leukaemia, ultimately geared towards the education of media personnel in the capital to enable them alert and enlighten the public on the disease in order to save lives.

This is in line with one of DWIB’s Objective "To embark on advocacy programmes that focus on creating awareness of the disease to the public in general and second cycle and tertiary education specifically to encourage participation" and assertion that, “For Lack Of Knowledge, Our People Are Dieing”. Prompted by the fact that, ignorance of the disease is one of the leading causes of deaths by this dreadful cancer of the blood, DWIB spared no expense to inform the Ghanaian media. The opportunity given to the media in the capital city of Ghana, Accra will in the future be extended to the media in other parts of the country.

The forum was attended by representatives of about forty media houses in the Accra, an indication of the great passion they have for creating the necessary awareness of the cancer. This makes it obvious that, the media will help disseminate the information to the grassroots level.

The seminar began with participants giving the lay man’s idea of Leukaemia and other relative diseases. A video documentary on Leukaemia, Bone Marrow Clinics and what it entails was shown. It highlighted the trauma that Danny Whyte, once a sufferer of the disease went through and his process of treatment in London. Various resource persons, including some members of Life Savers Initiative, an NGO set up by some students of the Ghana medical school gave talks on the subject.

Maame Takyiwa Ocran, a medical student of the Ghana Medical School, and a member of Life Savers Initiative, gave an elaborate presentation on blood, its components and functions and the causes of Leukaemia. She lectured on the different types of cancer and particularly, cancer of the blood, leading to Leukaemia.

Amoah Mensah and Sefa Nana, also of the Ghana Medical School, and members of Life Savers Initiative touched on what Leukaemia really is. Their presentations included the four main types of Leukaemia; acute lymphocytic, acute myeloid, chronic lymphocytic, and chronic myeloid Leukaemia.

They mentioned that exposure to benzene, a petroleum chemical; hair dye chemicals & sprays; some chemicals from pest insecticides; radiation, cigarette smoke, certain prescription drugs; viruses and age were some of the cause agents of Leukaemia. Media personnel were encouraged to educate the public on the dangers in burning of refuse and other objects using rubber or car tyres.

Mr. Danny Whyte, Executive Director of DWIB said it cost £50 for each blood sample to be transported and tissue typed in England, it is therefore crucial for the general public to support the Trust to enable it achieve its set targets.

He noted that, possibly for “every ten Leukaemia patients who report to Korle-Bu, nine may probaly not make it through the treatment”, because of lack of funds for treatment expenses and inadequate treatment facilities.

Mr. Danny Whyte was ambushed by some media personnel who interviewed him live from the seminar grounds on their radio stations. The television stations refused to be left out as they also recorded interviews of him explaining the importance of empowering the ordinary Ghanaian to enable him make informed life saving choices.

Speaking on nutrition, a nutritionist, Ethel Sedor, said eating well can protect us from many forms of sicknesses including Leukaemia. She advised on the intake of vitamins To supplement what is derived from the food we eat. She advised on the consumption of the correct amount of sugar particularly in Leukaemia patients and as a preventive measure from other diseases by everyone. She encouraged all to take plenty of water every day, adding that, we should believe in nutrition, faith in God, ourselves and respect life. She counselled that, hope should not be lost when medication takes long to yield results irrespective of the nature of ailment, as negative thoughts can have adverse affects on recuperation.

The Head of Korle-Bu’s Haematology’s Department, Dr. Ivy Ekem, gave the historical data of acute and chronic Leukaemia at the teaching hospital. The records are as follows:

Year

Chronic Leukaemia

Acute Leukaemia

1997

19

26

1998

17

35

1999

24

36

2000

20

36

2001

28

26

2002

28

32

2003

36

40

2004

50

50

Dr. Ivy Ekem noted that all expenses related to Leukaemia treatment was very expensive and often had to be borne solely by the sufferers and appeals for support for the Trust to enable it assist patients in every way necessary

The seminar had 15 minutes tea break half way and concluded with a serve ‘yourself’ buffet lunch for all participants.

 

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