Health News of 2013-12-07

‘Most mental cases are 'wee' related’

Frank Kwesi Arhin of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital has noted that the daily mental cases reported at the facility are Indian hemp “wee” smoking related.

He said research showed that male users of the substance lost 13 years out of their lifespan while females lost 14 years.

Mr Arhin made the disclosure at a community forum at Korle Gonno organised by Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a non-governmental organisation on Saturday to educate pupils from St Michael, Nanka Bruce, Hijaz and the Methodist basic schools in the area on the harmful effects of tobacco use.

The forum, which also created awareness on the need for Ghana to ban cigarette smoking in public, was supported by the Norwegian Cancer Society.

Mr Arhin said the nicotine in tobacco created addiction in users and gradually moved them to smoke Indian hemp and later cocaine.

He stated, “The assertion that smoking of marijuana enhances learning, improves appetite, remove shyness, boredom and shame are all lies.”

Mr Arhin said it rather weakened the brain and the body and made the user to behave abnormally.

Abdul Razak Ali of VALD said tobacco use had been linked to dreadful diseases such as heart diseases, lung, oral and throat cancers, respiration diseases, infertility, poverty and death.

He said VALD currently has plans to join hands with members of parliament, assembly members, chiefs, opinion and religious leaders to assist in educating the citizenry on the dangers of tobacco use and the law banning smoking in public.

Ms Veronica Fiaku, a member of Community Health Support Team of VALD who took the school children through the harmful effects of tobacco smoking advised them not to mingle with smokers because it was more dangerous for one to be a passive smoker.

Mr Labram Musah, Programme Director of VALD said Tobacco Control Measures in the Public Health Act 2012, (Act 851) was in operation and that anybody found smoking in public “is an offender and such a person is liable for arrest.”

He said the police were studying the law for its full implementation whilst the members of the VALD had also taken upon themselves to educate the people about its provisions because “ignorant of the law is no excuse.”

Mr Musah said the law prohibited children under age 18 to handle cigarette products and when found they could be arrested.

He advised the pupils to politely say no when they are asked to buy cigarette as “it is against the law to handle it.”

Mr Musah urged smokers to abide by the provisions of the law to avoid being arrested, saying, “It would be very sad that a smoker who spent 20Gp on a stick of cigarette is fined GH¢7,000 when caught or in default go to prison for not more than three years.”

Seyyid S. Nettey of the Ghana Muslim Mission, who chaired the function, said the programme was a blessing to the children because it gave them the opportunity to be educated on the harmful effects of smoking tobacco which would guard them in their lives.