The Brief: Ghana Becomes First Sub-Saharan Country to Cure Trachoma, Ecobank Appoints New Group Executive

In this week’s roundup, Ghana eliminates trachoma as a health condition in the nation. Ivory Coast is determined to ensure that it continues to benefit from cocoa production by auctioning early to keep prices fixed. Ecobank appoints Josephine Anan-Ankomah as Group Executive.

Ghana Becomes The First Sub-Saharan Country To Cure Trachoma  

Ghana has been successful in its attempts to eliminate trachoma, a bacterial infection that affects the eyes.

In the quest to cure this condition, the country pioneered several innovations, such as the utilisation of height-based dosing for azithromycin, community-by-community fieldwork for case-searches, and thorough counselling of patients with trichiasis.

Dr Matshidiso Moeit, Regional Director for Africa at the World Health Organisation (WHO) offered a statement about more factors behind Ghana’s milestone. “Success in Ghana is a result of the strong leadership at all levels, implementation of the full SAFE strategy right from the outset, strong collaboration between Ghana Health Service and its many partners, and integration at lower levels of programme delivery, including community ownership.”

Ghana’s success falls in line with WHO’s Expanded Special Project for the Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN) launched in May 2016. The project supports national NTD programmes with technical and fundraising guidance to eradicate these five tropical diseases: Lymphatic Filariasis, Schistosomiasis, Soil Transmitted Helminths, and Trachoma.

The medical condition Trachoma has been a significant cause of blindness in Ghana since the 1950s and it was a major issue in the Northern and Upper West Regions. An eye disease which appears by infection (bacterium Chlamydia trachomastis), it spreads through direct contact with eye and nose discharge of infected people, and through flies that have been in contact with infected eye and nose discharge.

To combat the disease, the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service established a national Trachoma Elimination Programme, adhering to the WHO’s suggested elimination strategy, SAFE, which consists of Surgery for trichiasis, Antibiotics to clear infection, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental improvement to decrease transmission.

The Ghana Health Service decided not to charge trichiasis patients due to the socioeconomic barriers faced by people with the condition.

The WHO launched the Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma (GET2020) by 2020 in 1996.

Ivory Coast Will Auction Its Cocoa Production To Exporters

Ivory Coast is the largest producer of cocoa, and to ensure that the country leverages this industry, the Cocoa Coffee Council (CCC) plans to auction the crop to exporters before the beginning of the season to implement set prices.

The CCC sold an estimated 1.7 million tonnes of cocoa in mid-August enabling them to set a secure price of around 750 and 800 CFA per kg in October. A source from the CCC told Reuters, “We think that by selling all the harvest before the beginning of the season, it gives us more guarantee in case of falling prices and allows us to set a guaranteed price for planters unchanged between the main and the mid-crop.” Another source added, “We have been forced to change our sales methods to adapt to the current environment. There is too much fluctuation and instability in the market.”

The country’s government is taking measures to prevent and locate illegal cocoa farming, reducing production levels. However, CCC remains positive, believing that cocoa production should stay stable with an output of approximately 1.8 to 1.9 million tonnes over the next two to three years.

Ecobank Transnational Incorporation Appoints Josephine Anan-Ankomah As Group Executive

Based in Togo, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) has appointed Josephine Anan-Ankomah as Group Executive, Commercial Banking recently. Ms Anan-Ankomah will enter the role immediately, reporting to the Group CEO. She is replacing Laurence do Rego who is now the Senior Advisor in the Group CEO’s office.

Ms. Anan-Ankomah’s journey with Ecobank began in 1992 as a Treasury Officer. Since then some of her other positions within the bank have included Regional Treasurer in several affiliates of the Group, Chief Operating Officer at a regional level, Head of Corporate Strategy and Business Development (Ecobank Ghana) and Deputy Head – Investment Banking Group (Ecobank Ghana). A Fellow of the Association of the Chartered Certified Accountants of Ghana, she received an MBA in Finance and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Sociology from the University of Ghana.

ETI is the parent company of the premier independent pan-African banking group, Ecobank. The bank is in 36 African countries and has over 17,000 employees.