Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A letter to the Ghanaian

Dear Ghanaian,
How are you doing? I guess the football season has ‘cooled off your tempers’ after the elections. This however brings a question to mind; should you always be reminded you are a Ghanaian when the national team is playing a tournament or a qualifier? Why do I ask this question? I noticed how most of you were intolerant of one another’s view during the political season to the extent that some blocked and ‘unfriend’ friends on the social network, facebook and some splashed their facebook timelines with insults and unfortunate tribal remarks. I do not even want to talk about what transpired on radio and television. On Sunday the 22nd of January, 2013, I read different comments on the performance of the Black stars. They were varying but the reason behind the comments was obvious; every Ghanaian had wanted the Black stars to win the match against Congo.  This made me to wonder, how can Ghanaians argue from different angles during the football season and accept one another’s view yet when they argue from different view points during the political season, they do not see the reason behind the argument to be; we all want quality life (I dare not use better Ghana for obvious reasons) for Ghanaians and the generations to come. Anyway, I did not come to talk politics and football; I came to talk about what this blog is known for.

On the 17th of January, 2013, I read the President has commissioned a five-year $663,299,496 Accra Sanitary Sewer and Stormwater Drainage Alleviation (please click on the hyperlink to read more). I heard most of you say, “it’s about time”. Yes! I agree it is about time. It’s about time Ghana’s drains, streets, markets, public places, private places etc are clean and smell good because clean environment is not just for flood management or tourist attraction but for our nutritional well-being as well. I would not be surprise if a few are waiting for such projects to be commissioned to clean their homes. As we are all advocate for clean environment, may I remind you that, this onus falls on the government. Yes! The government. Make no mistake you are the government. The government is not the elected few but you and I as well. In any case, did the AMA, KMA… Bosses or the President create the filth you see on your streets, drains and market places? Do not ask me who created it because I did not come here to call the police but the ambulance.
As a student public health nutritionist, I have come to know for an individual to yield his/her potential to the maximum he/she needs to be nutritionally well too. Nutritional well-being is not just about eating the right food and doing the right physical activity. Nutritional well-being (security) as defined by the World Bank in 2006 exist when food security (availability, accessibility and affordability of nutritious food, for more visit the FAO, WHO, USAID etc websites or visit this blog again) is combined with a sanitary environment, adequate health services and proper care and feeding practices to ensure a healthy life for all household members. If the World Bank is defining nutritional security, then you should know nutritional well-being is associated with wealth (money).

From the above definition; how clean is Ghana’s environment? Which environment do Ghanaians sell and purchase their food? Where do they eat their food? I guess the Ghanaian is in the best position to answer these questions. I know the AMA, KMA etc and other bodies are working very hard to make Ghana’s environment and market places clean to meet high standards. However their efforts are not yielding the results to give sanitary environment for Ghana’s nutritional security. Why is this so? I can attempt to answer this; some Ghanaians if not all, litter the environment intentionally and unintentionally with the assumption that the AMA, KMA etc have been paid to clean their filth. Some say, “If I don’t make the place dirty, someone would not get work to do (creating employment right?)”. In case these people didn’t know, there are places in the world where the environment is clean but they still have ‘AMA, KMA’ working? Who are you then; the Ghanaian who helps to keep the environment clean or one who does not? In either case, it doesn’t matter as long as the market places you purchase your food isn’t in the best conditions, your nutritional well-being is still at risk. The next time you or someone else decides to litter the environment, know you are putting yourself, the country and the future generation at risk nutritionally and not only economically (flood management, tourism and investment, as though nutrition is not an economic issue; cross check this with the World Bank). We put the future generation at risk as well because an unhealthy parent gives birth to unhealthy baby who grows to continue this unhealthy and uneconomical cycle.

I know some would also say “we would cook our food for long to kill any present germs”. That is very thoughtful, but as you kill the germs, know that they are not the only ones ‘dying’ but some nutrients for which you are eating the food for are also been ‘killed’. I believe you know now what you have been feeding your poor body with if you belong to this school of thought. Don’t be deceived, you who buy your foodstuffs from the supermarkets, you still get to breath in the ‘lavender’ of the capital city and other cities and towns. Only God knows what is in this ‘lavender’ you are breathing. To move Ghana from a middle income country to a developed country, nutritional security plays a key role (healthy individuals to work in the economy) and thus, the environment especially market places, places where food are stored, cooked and eaten need to be secured.

The next time, you think of littering the environment think not of the AMA, KMA etc, think of your nutritional well-being. The next time, your assembly man, Church etc wake you up to clean your community, do not grumble but look forward with gladness because you are protecting your well-being and that of your community, country and future generations. Let us not only think of clean environment as an attraction for tourism, flood management, investment etc but let’s see it as a protection of our nutritional well–being.
Remember, one litter you drop will eventually come back to you. No one sows a corn seed and expect melon fruits.

Till I bring you another slice of the cake, continue to keep your environment clean.


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