I am extremely proud to be taking over the Presidency of the Paediatric Society of Ghana which has been looked after so well by my predecessor Dr. Theresa Retig and her executive. We say Ayeeko to them. Good communication between the society and the wider public is extremely important and it is exhilarating to reach members and the public for the first time via our website. It is a defining moment in our history! This can be captured in one statement as “Turning the tide”. This pivotal moment I believe, would foster the phenomenal growth of the Paediatric Society of Ghana, as we reach out to our members who are core to everything that we do and also the public. A strong network of professionals who care for children is now in place by the very birth of our website. Congratulations to all who made this possible.
Are Ghanaian children fit for the future? This is what I exhort all members to think about. How can the society influence policy in Ghana to make our children healthy and stay healthy. The promotion of child health requires a shift in the relationship between parents, children and health professionals to one of partnership rather than supervision, in which parents are empowered to make use of services and expertise according to their needs. I see this website as a fantastic opportunity for that to happen. In Ghana there is a wide disparity in the coverage, accessibility and quality of basic services that Ghanaian children and women depend upon and are entitled to.
Avoidable adverse health outcomes show a steep social class gradient which is associated with undesirable living conditions, stress and poverty. The promotion of child health therefore involves a range of legislative and policy initiatives. When poverty excludes children from enjoying their rights to education, health care and protection, it also locks them into a cycle that is tragically bequeathed to the next generation! The society should take a lead role in trying to make Ghanaian children fit for the future. While it is readily accepted wisdom that we need to invest in tomorrow’s adults, we seem peculiarly reluctant to do so.
The first half of the nineteenth century saw the real beginning of medical science with the invention of many diagnostic tools. These included the opthalmoscope by Charles Babbage in 1847, the laryngoscope by Manuel Garcia in 1854, the clinical thermometer by Thomas Allbutt around 1870 and the stethoscope perhaps the simplest and most important by Rene Laennec in 1816. Of course it is a story worth telling too, the building of the model of the double helix structure of the gene by Watson and Crick in 1953. Yet in 2014 we may not use these tools to deal with emerging threats like abuse and neglect that affect our children. All they need is love? What about nutrition? Malnutrition is the main underlying cause contributing to the high level of child mortality in Ghana. Do we need to invent different tools from the above to make a breakthrough in the care of our children? The answer lies with us in the current generation and I again challenge members to think hard around these issues
Children are funny, logical and entertaining. The story is told of a grandmother visiting her daughter just home with her new baby son. The district Nurse called and looking at the baby remarked “isn’t he like his Daddy”. ‘No he’s not” said the four year old sibling. “He has not got a moustache”. Let us enjoy our days with these children. They are indeed the Heritage of the Lord.