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More than one-third of Ghanaians bleach their skin – WHO report

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This was stated in the WHO African Region and the Integrated African Health Observatory (iAHO) report presented in Accra in November 2023. According to the paper, in Ghana, statistics indicated that 40.4 percent of study participants in Kumasi and 50.3 percent in Accra used skin-bleaching products either now or in the past.

More than a third of the country’s population bleaches their skin, putting their health at risk.

According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa Region study, 39 out of 100 Ghanaians are normally involved in skin bleaching, and the widespread use of skin-lightening products is the source of the country’s growing statistics in skin bleaching.

Other African countries report rates ranging from 25% of the population in Mali to 77% in Nigeria, with other countries reporting intermediate rates such as 31.15 per cent in Zimbabwe, 32% in South Africa, 50% in Senegal, and 66% in Congo-Brazzaville.

This was stated in the WHO African Region and the Integrated African Health Observatory (iAHO) report presented in Accra in November 2023.

According to the paper, in Ghana, statistics indicated that 40.4 per cent of study participants in Kumasi and 50.3 per cent in Accra used skin-bleaching products either now or in the past.

What is skin bleaching?

The paper defined skin bleaching, also known as skin lightening, skin toning, and skin whitening, as a global cosmetic practice to obtain a lighter skin tone. Cosmetic demands founded in profound historical, economic, socio-cultural, and psychological considerations are frequently driving it.

It entails the use of topical treatments including corticosteroids, hydroquinone, mercury, or other chemicals to lighten the skin. In Africa and Asia, the usage of potentially dangerous chemicals such as mercury is frequent.

According to the WHO, a recent meta-analysis indicated a global prevalence of skin bleaching of 27.1% in Africa, with 25 to 80% of African women frequently using skin-whitening products.

It said that data from 68 studies’ meta-analysis and meta-regression analysis revealed that persons aged 30 and younger had the highest prevalence of skin bleaching at 55.9%, followed by those aged 31-49 years at 25.9%.

It highlighted skin bleaching as a worldwide public health issue that demanded an immediate response, emphasising the importance of strong regulatory action to prohibit the importation of dangerous skin-bleaching goods.

In a statement to The Mirror, WHO Country Representative to Ghana, Professor Francis Kasolo, stated that “we have recognised the health threats of skin bleaching.” As a result, through this analytical fact sheet, we are attempting to attract attention to this issue and raise public awareness in order to regulate the practice of skin bleaching in Ghana and throughout Africa.”

Effects on health

According to the paper, skin bleaching can cause dermatitis, steroid acne, discoloration, changes in skin thickness, inflammatory illnesses, and problems including mercury poisoning, nephrotic syndrome, and exogenous ochronosis.

These health issues, it noted, were linked to components in skin-lightening products such as hydroquinone, corticosteroids, and mercury, noting that a history of long-term use of skin-lightening products was detected in individuals with skin malignancies such as squamous cell carcinoma.

In addition to skin problems, the report stated that chronic use of skin-lightening products was associated with symptoms of mercury poisoning, nephrotic syndrome, adrenal insufficiency, Cushing’s syndrome, diabetes mellitus, osteonecrosis of the femoral head, and life-threatening postoperative adrenal crisis.

“Studies have shown that people with bleached skin have slower wound healing due to thinner skin layers, delayed skin regrowth, reduced tissue support and impaired tissue formation. It increases the likelihood of wound infection, dehiscence (reopening of the wound), and bleeding. It is similar to wound healing complications caused by the use of steroids,” it said.

Response to skin-bleaching

The research recommended that healthcare practitioners, including chemists, be taught about local skin bleaching practises and the possible consequences connected with the overuse of corticosteroids and hydroquinone-containing treatments.

It stated that such information would assist them in identifying negative effects, providing advise, and recommending safe alternatives such as high-quality and economical sunscreens.

It said that public health initiatives and activities were required to prevent the culture of colorism by promoting the attractiveness of all skin hues and utilising more dark-skinned models in ads.

“Despite knowing the side effects of skin bleaching, people still choose to bleach their skin. This evidence strongly suggests that comprehensive public health awareness strategies are needed to discourage this practice. It said that skin bleaching is an important public health issue requiring broader campaigns that go beyond informing people about the health risks involved,” it said.

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Sam George urges on Akufo-Addo to sign the anti-LGBTQI+ bill into law

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He thanked his colleagues, notably Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, a former Majority Leader, for their dedication to passing the measure. "We want to thank Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who played a pivotal role in passing this bill," the member of the parliament said to the media. Mr George also emphasised MPs' unity throughout the process, saying, "The overwhelming majority from both sides of the aisle have endorsed this bill." He assured that members of Parliament will work with the media to promote widespread public education on the law. The Bill's goal is to protect human sexual rights and Ghanaian Family Values, which prohibit homosexual, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) behaviours.

Samuel Nartey George, a key sponsor of the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, 2021, has encouraged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to sign the Bill after it passed through Parliament on Wednesday, February 28.

“We want the President to walk his talk by appending his signature to the bill to enable it to come into force,” he told reporters.

Addressing the Parliamentary Press Corps following the Bill’s approval, the National Democratic Congress Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram stated that the Bill received widespread support among MPs.

He thanked his colleagues, notably Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, a former Majority Leader, for their dedication to passing the measure.

“We want to thank Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who played a pivotal role in passing this bill,” the member of the parliament said to the media.

Mr George also emphasised MPs’ unity throughout the process, saying, “The overwhelming majority from both sides of the aisle have endorsed this bill.”

He assured that members of Parliament will work with the media to promote widespread public education on the law.

The Bill’s goal is to protect human sexual rights and Ghanaian Family Values, which prohibit homosexual, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) behaviours.

The Bill now prohibits lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activities and criminalises their promotion, advocacy, and financing.

Persons caught in these actions would face a six-month to three-year prison sentence, with promoters and sponsors facing three to five years in prison.

The Bill would now require presidential approval to go into effect.

Uganda passed one of the world’s most stringent anti-LGBT laws in May 2023, including the death sentence for “aggravated homosexuality.”
Activists said it triggered a wave of abuse, and the World Bank froze fresh support for the government.

In 2021, the United Nations stated that the planned law would establish “a system of state-sponsored discrimination and violence” against sexual minorities.

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Ghana Water to shut down Barekese and Achiase stations

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It will take place on three Thursdays: February 29, March 7, and March 14. According to a statement from the water supplier, the exercise would have an impact on manufacturing hubs. As a result, the majority of homes in the Greater Kumasi Metropolis should expect intermittent water delivery. "Management regrets the inconvenience the challenge may cause and advises customers to store and judiciously use water to avert any severe impact during the shutdown dates," the company said in a statement.

The Ghana Water Limited has announced the closure of the Barekese and Achiase water stations in the Ashanti region.

The change is due to planned maintenance by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) at the supply stations.

The maintenance work is planned to last for approximately 12 hours.

It will take place on three Thursdays: February 29, March 7, and March 14.

According to a statement from the water supplier, the exercise would have an impact on manufacturing hubs.

As a result, the majority of homes in the Greater Kumasi Metropolis should expect intermittent water delivery.

“Management regrets the inconvenience the challenge may cause and advises customers to store and judiciously use water to avert any severe impact during the shutdown dates,” the company said in a statement.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GmSz3JORNF6l-GzqADB5TDAfdhV2b6ra/view

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CSO coalition threatens Supreme Court action over anti-LGBTQ+ legislation

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Anyone found guilty of identifying as LGBTQ+ faces up to three years in jail. It also mandates a possible five-year prison sentence for founding or financing LGBTQ+ organisations. MPs opposed efforts to replace jail terms with community service and therapy. Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, the Board Chair of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development CDD-Ghana, told JoyNews that the groups will make presentations to President Akufo-Addo, urging him not to sign the anti-LGBTQ+ law. She expressed regret that, despite all of Ghana's prospects when the measure was offered, Parliament saw no compelling reason to rule that such a statute did not fit within the country's democratic system.

A coalition of 18 civil society organisations has vowed to file a Supreme Court petition if President Nana Akufo-Addo signs the Proper Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, 2021.

The organisation has lobbied against the anti-LGBTI+ law, claiming that it violates Ghana’s unique cultural and religious environment.

Parliament overwhelmingly enacted the anti-LGBTQ+ measure on February 28, following nearly three years of discussion. The measure intends to criminalise the LGBTQ+ community’s activities.

Anyone found guilty of identifying as LGBTQ+ faces up to three years in jail. It also mandates a possible five-year prison sentence for founding or financing LGBTQ+ organisations.

MPs opposed efforts to replace jail terms with community service and therapy.

Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, the Board Chair of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development CDD-Ghana, told JoyNews that the groups will make presentations to President Akufo-Addo, urging him not to sign the anti-LGBTQ+ law.

She expressed regret that, despite all of Ghana’s prospects when the measure was offered, Parliament saw no compelling reason to rule that such a statute did not fit within the country’s democratic system.

“This bill is awful. It’s similar to criminal libel, which the colonists instituted and we kept. And it was used inappropriately against people, including journalists. “We’ll discover that this is similar,” she remarked.
Prof. Gadzekpo believed that an administration with great judgment would take power and repeal the measure.

Commenting on the coalition’s future steps now that Parliament has passed the bill, Prof Gadzekpo stated that the organisation would continue to advocate and explain why the anti-LGBTQ+ bill is destructive to the country’s democracy and prosperity.

She was hopeful that President Akufo-Addo would hear their cause.

“So we will make representation to the president, not to assent to the bill. I personally believe that this bill’s proposal through enactment – even the argumentation has very little to do with wanting to safeguard Ghanaian family values because the present danger that endangers our family values were never addressed in this bill.

“This bill was just narrowly targeted at minorities because they know that a majority of people don’t agree with a sexuality that is not binary.

“But the fact that a majority of people don’t agree with a minority position doesn’t make the majority right. It’s such a fundamental principle of democracy. That is why there are so many provisions in democratic constitutions that protect minorities and minority views and rights, but unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears,” she stressed.

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