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Childhood cancers, sickle cell treatment now covered by NHIS, says Bawumia



Treatments for childhood cancers, as well as the cost of Hydroxyurea, an essential drug for the treatment of sickle cell anaemia, are now covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia has announced.

Announcing this on Thursday (25 August 2022) in Accra, Bawumia said reimbursement of childhood cancers under NHIS became effective 1 July 2022, and plans are far advanced to add treatment for other forms of cancer to the list of ailments covered by NHIS.

“We have started with four cancers amongst children for now but we are determined to expand in due course. As we know, incremental improvement is always the way and exponential impact should not be compromised when it comes to healthcare.

“Our children’s present and future can only be secured if all the factors that threaten their existence and quality of life are eliminated. We are determined to make it happen and we should not relent,” he said.

“A diagnosis of cancer often appears to be a death sentence, affecting not just the subject but the rest of the family and entire community, unless well-structured and well-resourced interventions are at play to curb the burden. In many developing countries, cancer is on the rise and its consequent effect on economies, is and will be grave, if nothing is done to control it,” he said.

He added: “Where countries have attempted to curb it, the perception of acutely exorbitant costs of management have meant that many under-resourced countries have often avoided opening the Pandora’s Box for fear of being unable to manage those costs. Childhood cancers in particular have shown significant success rates in achieving desired management outcomes and often at manageable costs.

“I am glad that we, as a nation, are putting our children first and protecting them and their dreams. Sometimes it is good to look at the value of investments and not just the cost.”

Dr Bawumia enjoined all stakeholders to bring their resources to the table to make the programme both successful and sustainable, pointing out that “For most things to be sustained funding is required: good funding streams enable projects to be sustained and this is same in childhood cancers and other disease areas. It requires us to be collectively innovative in proffering solutions and investing in it and all other factors that will ensure the best outcomes.

“For a health project such as this great childhood cancer services to continue, all stakeholders need to bring their resources to the table – expertise, awareness creation, early detection, treatment etc should be made available. The successful outcomes of provision of these is what will keep things sustained. Seeing that our children are being diagnosed early and treated and recovering will certainly encourage the NHIA and all other partners to continue to fund the services. We all have a role to play.”

Collaboration, data, technology

Highlighting the importance of technology, effective collaboration and data in health management, Dr Bawumia noted that there are multiple players in healthcare that require data for valuable investments, with health data actually generating income for some countries.

“Clinical trials, research, budgeting, all require data. But data is not valuable if it is just that, and not useful. I will encourage us to prioritize data capture related to childhood cancers and other cancers to ensure that investments in healthcare are well informed. For a middle-income country, every cedi we spend must be well thought through and data will enable us to so.

“Reducing wastage is a key means of enabling that efficiency we desire which will ultimately support the sustainability of this journey we have embarked on…

“It will be key for us to have standard platforms across private and public sector that enable easy access and top-quality data that inform work going forward. Extraction of population level data and its analysis will enable favourable investment and development of strategies that are directly impactful to our people”.

The desire to ensure a greater geographical spread of access to healthcare, especially for persons who require specialist care and medication, was the reason behind initiatives such as One Constituency One Ambulance, Medical drones for the delivery of essential medical supplies and blood, and the Agenda 111 projects, which would see to the construction of District Hospitals in all districts without one, as well as the construction and or upgrading of regional hospitals across the country, he indicated

“Government is also showing leadership and keen commitment to addressing geographical access limitations through Agenda 111 and we are keen to drive this and make it reality. In these facilities that will be set up, we will be looking at providing all relevant and priority services and will look at how we could also aid improved cancer control including childhood cancers in Ghana,” he said.

Vice President Bawumia commended the First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the minister and ministry of health, the board chair of NHIA and his team, the CEO of NHIA, World Child Cancer, Roche and all collaborators for helping to achieve this life saving initiative.

“What we have achieved here is no mean feat and we should not underestimate it,” he said.


Man Who Cut Neighbors Heart Out And Cooked It For His Family Has Been Sentenced To Life In Prison




Oklahoma man sentenced to life in prison for killing 3; cut out heart from 1, cooked it (Grady County Sheriff's Office/Grady County Sheriff's Office)

A man, who killed his neighbor, cut her heart out and then stabbed two people to death, including a 4-year-old child, has been sentenced to life in prison in US’s Oklahoma state.

According to NBC News, 44-year-old Lawrence Paul Anderson committed the murders in 2021, less than a month after he received an early release from prison.

Weeks after he was freed, he murdered and carved Andrea Blankenship’s heart, carried it to his aunt and uncle’s house and cooked the organ with potatoes.

He then attempted to serve the meal to the couple before he stabbed and killed 67-year-old Leon Pye and his 4-year-old granddaughter Kaeos Yates, He also stabbed his aunt .

Lawrence Paul Anderson pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of first-degree murder and a single count each of assault with a deadly weapon and felony maiming, according to The Associated Press. Anderson was sentenced to life in prison without parole as part of a plea deal.

The prosecutor dropped plans for the death penalty following a request from the victim’s family, the AP reported. After the sentencing, the prosecutor, Jason Hicks, said in a news conference that the victim’s family did not wish to endure the pain of a trial.


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International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin




It was the first time the global court has issued a warrant against a leader of one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

The ICC said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of (children) and that of unlawful transfer of (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

The move was immediately dismissed by Moscow — and welcomed by Ukraine as a major breakthrough.

Its practical implications, however, could be limited as the chances of Putin facing trial at the ICC are highly unlikely because Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction or extradite its nationals.

But the moral condemnation will likely stain the Russian leader for the rest of his life — and in the more immediate future whenever he seeks to attend an international summit in a nation bound to arrest him.

“So Putin might go to China, Syria, Iran, his … few allies, but he just won’t travel to the rest of the world and won’t travel to ICC member states who he believes would … arrest him,” said Adil Ahmad Haque, an expert in international law and armed conflict at Rutgers University.

Others agreed. “Vladimir Putin will forever be marked as a pariah globally. He has lost all his political credibility around the world. Any world leader who stands by him will be shamed as well,” David Crane, a former international prosecutor, told The Associated Press.

The court also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Lvova-Belova, the commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation. The AP reported on her involvement in the abduction of Ukrainian orphans in October, in the first investigation to follow the process all the way to Russia, relying on dozens of interviews and documents.

ICC President Piotr Hofmanski said in a video statement that while the ICC’s judges have issued the warrants, it will be up to the international community to enforce them. The court has no police force of its own to do so.

The ICC can impose a maximum sentence of life imprisonment “when justified by the extreme gravity of the crime,” according to its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, that established it as a permanent court of last resort to prosecute political leaders and other key perpetrators of the world’s worst atrocities — war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Still, the chances of Putin or Lvova-Belova facing trial remain extremely remote, as Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction — a position it vehemently reaffirmed Friday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia doesn’t recognize the ICC and considers its decisions “legally void.” He called the court’s move “outrageous and unacceptable.”

Peskov refused to comment when asked if Putin would avoid making trips to countries where he could be arrested on the ICC’s warrant.

Ukraine’s human rights chief, Dmytro Lubinets, has said that based on data from the country’s National Information Bureau, 16,226 children were deported. Ukraine has managed to bring back 308 children.

Lvova-Belova, who was also implicated in the warrants, reacted with dripping sarcasm. “It is great that the international community has appreciated the work to help the children of our country, that we do not leave them in war zones, that we take them out, we create good conditions for them, that we surround them with loving, caring people,” she said.

Ukrainian officials were jubilant at the move.

In his nightly address to the nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called it a “historic decision, from which historic responsibility will begin.”

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador, recalled that on the night of Russia’s invasion, “I said at the Security Council meeting that there is no purgatory for war criminals, they go straight to hell. Today, I would like to say that those of them who will remain alive after the military defeat of Russia will have to make a stop in The Hague on their way to hell.”

In Washington, President Joe Biden called the ICC’s decision “justified,” telling reporters as he left the White House for his Delaware home that Putin “clearly committed war crimes.” While the US does not recognize the court either, Biden said it “makes a very strong point” to call out the Russian leader’s actions in ordering the invasion.

Olga Lopatkina, a Ukrainian mother who struggled for months to reclaim her foster children who were deported to an institution run by Russian loyalists, welcomed news of the arrest warrant. “Everyone must be punished for their crimes,” she said in a message exchange with the AP.

While Ukraine is also not a member of the global court, it has granted it jurisdiction over its territory and ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has visited four times since opening an investigation a year ago.

Besides Russia and Ukraine, the United States and China are not members of the 123-member ICC.

The ICC said its pre-trial chamber found “reasonable grounds” that Putin “bears individual criminal responsibility” for the child abductions “for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others” and for failing to “exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts.”

During a visit this month, ICC prosecutor Khan said he went to a care home for children 2 kilometers (just over a mile) from front lines in southern Ukraine.

“The drawings pinned on the wall … spoke to a context of love and support that was once there,” he said in a statement. “But this home was empty, a result of alleged deportation of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation or their unlawful transfer to other parts of the temporarily occupied territories.”

“As I noted to the United Nations Security Council last September, these alleged acts are being investigated by my office as a priority. Children cannot be treated as the spoils of war,” Khan said.

And while Russia rejected the allegations and warrants, others said the ICC action will have an important impact.

“The ICC has made Putin a wanted man and taken its first step to end the impunity that has emboldened perpetrators in Russia’s war against Ukraine for far too long,” said Balkees Jarrah, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “The warrants send a clear message that giving orders to commit, or tolerating, serious crimes against civilians may lead to a prison cell in The Hague.”

Crane, who indicted Liberian President Charles Taylor 20 years ago for crimes in Sierra Leone, said dictators and tyrants around the world “are now on notice that those who commit international crimes will be held accountable.”

Taylor was eventually detained and put on trial at a special court in the Netherlands. He was convicted and sentenced to 50 years’ imprisonment.

On Thursday, a U.N.-backed inquiry cited Russian attacks against civilians in Ukraine, including systematic torture and killing in occupied regions, among potential issues that amount to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.

The sweeping investigation also found crimes committed against Ukrainians on Russian territory, including deported Ukrainian children who were prevented from reuniting with their families, a “filtration” system aimed at singling out Ukrainians for detention, and torture and inhumane detention conditions.

On Friday, the ICC put the face of Putin on the child abduction allegations.


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Father Ted creator loses TV career and marriage and on anxiety medication over trans community tweets




Graham Linehan, the creator of hit comedies Father Ted and the IT Crowd, has spoken out about losing his career and marriage after sharing a series of tweets about the transgender community.

The 54-year-old rose to prominence for co-creating sitcom Father Ted in 1995 and Black Books in 2000 – later writing The IT Crowd.

He had planned a Father Ted musical, but he later claimed it had been cancelled by producers over his divisive tweets on transgender rights.

Linehan had began tweeting his views after his testicular cancer operation in 2018 and in 2020, he was permanently banned from the social media site after airing his divisive views.

He had reportedly tweeted “Men aren’t women tho” after the Women’s Institute sent a Happy Pride message to its transgender members.

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