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Ghana has marked this year's Scoliosis Awareness Day with a call on all citizens to join the fight against stigmatization and alienation of persons with scoliosis.
The International Awareness Day is a day set aside globally to create awareness and sensitize people on the need to prevent Scoliosis, its detection, treatment, and cure.
This year’s event which was celebrated on the theme: “Early detection, early prevention” was staged at the courtyard of the Chief's Palace at Sowutuom, a suburb of Accra. It was chaired by His Royal Highness, Nii Osabu Akwei Ofoli Tibo I, the Chief of Sowutuom-Nsumfa Traditional Area.
At the forum, various speakers who took turns to address the participants charged them to speak up for scoliosis victims as well as endeavor to join the fight against stigmatization and alienation in order to galvanize support for the scoliosis victims.
Participants were also admonished to help create the needed awareness in a bid to help demystify the myths associated with the unfortunate condition.
Delivering her keynote address, Dr Afua Adjei-kwayisi, a spine specialist at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital spoke copiously on the significance of the day, the cause of scoliosis, its detection, treatment and cure.
Touching on the myths associated with the condition, she said, "Scoliosis is not a disease. It’s not contagious, not inherited and by no means is it a curse from the Gods for wrong doing".
While recounting the trauma and constant pain some victims have to endure as a result of the physical effects of scoliosis, she bemoaned even though the greatest burden lies with the psychological impact of the deformity caused by the condition, the effects of stigmatization attached to it is even more worrying.
"The stigma of being a misfit, just because, the Ghanaian society is ill informed on what scoliosis actually represents. The daily ridicule, difficulties in the workplace and on the job market, leaves most depressed and unwilling to keep up with their peers".
According Dr Adjei-Ayisi, this has adversely affected Ghana’s labor force. "Low productivity and work absenteeism but to name a few have been the psycho-physiological effect of this disability".
The spine Specialist of the World Spine Care therefore appealed to all Ghanaians to make it a priority to shield those affected from the ridicule of those ill and uninformed as well as speak up for persons with the condition to get help.
While calling for support of the Scoliosis Foundation of Ghana to achieve its objectives, she quickly appealed to government to consider scoliosis screening result a mandatory requirement for all school admissions.
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. While scoliosis can be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, the cause of most scoliosis is unknown.
It affects about 3% of the world's population with an onset at a younger age usually between 10 and 15 years of age. Although fewer cases are present today, this medical remains a prevailing one. Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but some spine deformities continue to get more severe as children grow. Severe scoliosis can be disabling. Unfortunately, in Ghana and Africa, Scoliosis is seen as a curse and a disease caused by witchcraft.
For his part, a representative from the Ministry of Health who spoke on behalf of the Minister observed that Scoliosis are among the poorest of poor living a life of disadvantaged and deprivation, a situation he described as ‘disheartening’, calling for support for persons with the condition.
While commending the Scoliosis Foundation of Ghana (SGF) for its role in creating public awareness of various spinal conditions, helping to bring hope and care to people living with these conditions in Ghana, he pledges government’s support towards the organization in a bid to help relieve the plights of the victims of the unfortunate condition.
"The Ministry of Health is committed to living on its mandate and is leaving no stone unturned in supporting Private-Public Partnership in fulfilling this mission. It is therefore gratifying to align ourselves with this wonderful foundation to fight this canker".
The auspicious forum was graced by the crème de la crème of the society, chiefs and queen mothers and traditional authorities in the country including the Development queen of Santa Maria, Naa Motsoo Shika I, Nii Ayeh Mpese Congo I, Chief of Rastafarians Community in Ghana and Mpese Royal Family.
It brought together stakeholders from the health sector, government officials, students from the Justice For All Foundation School (NGO) including well-wishers and the general public.
Prince Acheampong, a musician and scoliosis victim, better known by his stage name as 'Bra Obofo' who shared his story to motivate the audience to believe that he is a living testimony to scoliosis and that the saying the ‘disability is not inability’ is possible said, I was neglected by my parents in my childhood days as a result of the condition but having been blessed by God with the singing talent, I’m able to perform even though still living with scoliosis”.
He performed creditably two of his powerful hi-life song to admiration of the audience, kept them on their feet, charged and in a jubilant mood for minutes before narrating his struggles.
Gabriel Perez Silva, a US based celebrity photographer and actor who was the guest of honour for the occasion in his remark also narrated his ordeal being a victim of scoliosis growing up as a child in Columbia and how he got helped through support of philanthropists who came to his aid.
Mr. Silva described the condition as ‘unfortunate’ and called for support for victims as well as strongly advocated for mandatory screening of school children, early detection, treatment and cure as a way to deal with the in order to save lives.
While pledging his unflinching support to embark on fundraising project to support the Scoliosis Foundation Ghana execute its agenda, he called on all Ghanaians to join the fight against stigmatization and raise awareness on the condition to dispel the myths associated with it.
Speaking in an interview with the media, Founder and CEO of Scoliosis Foundation Ghana, Gabriel Ntow Quao called for support and partnership of government, corporate organizations, institutions, NGOs and philanthropists to help his outfit deliver on its mandate.
He identified lack of funds and logistics (eg. transport) to work with as the main challenges the foundation is faced with making it difficult for it to achieve its mandate.
The event was organized by the Scoliosis Foundation Ghana in partnership with Mr. Gabriel Perez Silva, a US based Celebrity Photographer/Actor and proudly supported by the Chief of Sowutuom, Nii Osabu Akwei Ofoli Tibo I, the Development Queen of Santa Maria, Naa Motsoo Shika I, Paulus Electricals, Nana Kwasi Boadwan, the aspiring Assemblyman of Santa Maria and Zilex Plaza
This is the fifth edition of the event being staged by SGF in that direction to help create awareness on scoliosis and its effects on Ghanaians.
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