The National President of Men’s Health Foundation Ghana and Cancer Voices Ghana, Dr Raphael Nyarkotey Obu has called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to declare Fathers’ Day as National Prostate Cancer Day.
Dr. Nyarkotey Obu said this will create awareness about the dire situation that men face in Ghana as far as the health of their prostate was concerned.
According to him, the declaration of Fathers’ Day as National Prostrate Cancer Day could mark the beginning of the design and formulation of a specific National Men’s Health Policy for Ghana which would include other ailments that predominantly affect men besides prostate cancer such as lung cancer related to smoking, liver problems related to alcohol abuse and genito-urinary problems that have led to so many men wearing catheters.
Such a move, Dr Obu said, was comparable to the country’s declaration of St. Valentine’s Day, an informal occasion observed on February 14, the world over, as ‘National Chocolate Day’ to promote the patronage and consumption of Ghana-made chocolate in the country.
High cases of Prostate Cancer in Ghana
Dr Raphael Nyarkotey Obu who said this in a post Father’s Day interview with the Daily Graphic said the case for the declaration of Fathers’ Day as National Prostate Cancer Day in Ghana was anchored on the fact that the country appeared to have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the whole world, with an estimated number of 921 new cases occurring every year, with 758 of them resulting in death.
He said epidemiological studies had revealed that while incidence of the disease was 200 out of every 100,000 men in Ghana, it was 127 to every 100,000 in Nigeria and 130 per 100,000 in Cameroun adding that the sub-region was generally recognized as having the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world with Ghana at the epicentre.
Dr Obu said it was believed that one in five Ghanaian men would get prostate cancer in their lifetime and that seemed to support findings that showed that the black race had a higher propensity for having vitamin D deficiency from the sun-blocking effects of melanin pigmentation which accounted for the dark colour of their skins, and that predisposed black men to developing prostate cancer which was linked to vitamin D deficiency.
“In the case of Ghana, it appears that this predisposition is further compounded by higher levels of saturated fats in our traditional diets,” Dr Obu added.
Need for awareness creation and expertise
Going forward, he said there was the need to create awareness of the condition so that all Ghanaian men would become aware of their high chances of developing prostate cancer and take measures to prevent that from occurring.
“This is where the declaration of Fathers’ Day as National Prostate Cancer Day would serve as a means to coalesce all national effort to create awareness through aggressive public education programmes using mass communication media fully supported by government and sponsored by public and private business entities, as well as interested individuals. Aggressive prostate cancer screening exercises can be rolled out on that day, nationwide, making it possible for men to verify their status,” he explained.
Such an initiative, he added, would also need considerable sponsorship from public and private enterprises, as well as district assemblies and the central government.
The next step, he said, should involve the setting up of prostate screening centres all over the country as part of all public health institutions to help men over the age of 35 establish their status and make informed choices about their health.
Inculcate Prostate Cancer into NHIS package
“This can only be made possible if the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) makes such screening part of its subscriber package to make the test accessible to all and assist subsequently with treatment costs to reduce the high mortality rates associated with prostate cancer,” he suggested.
He was quick to add that the on-going search for additional sources of funding for the NHIS as part of the Health Financing Strategy, should take cognizance of prostrate tests and treatment.
Dr Obu said there was the need for more professional health workers to be trained at all levels to handle prostate cancer and related ailments and that was the case for political leadership.
He said in spite of the many serious health problems confronting men, few countries had national strategies to address those problems.
“There appears to be a deficit in gender-sensitive health service provision for men all over the world and Ghana is no exception. It is now increasingly understood that health policies and practices that take specific account of sex and gender differences are required. For instance gynaecology specifically addresses female gender sexual health issues,” Dr Obu added.
He said the first country in the world whose government adopted a national men’s health strategy was Ireland.
Two other countries, Australia and Brazil, he added, had followed with similar policies, leaving behind leading democracies such as the USA, the UK and Canada, although those countries had made considerable progress on men’s health issues and practice.
An estimated number of 921 new cases of Prostate Cancer occur every year in Ghana, with 758 of them resulting in death.