Most at times we hear of people who are “sicklers”, or have sickle cell disease. Some are our relatives, others are friends. What most people still know is such people suffer a lot of pain and die young in life. Continue reading “Simple Breakdown of ‘Sickle Cell’”
…The instreaming of drug itinerants and quack doctors in our streets and at the doorsteps, has orchestrated to a high incidence of drug abuse. It is worthy to note that, not only in our homes and streets that one catches a glimpse of quacks plying their trade, but also in buses and in “troskis.” Their ability to entertain an audience, their sheer eloquence and the testimonies given by various people about the efficacy of their drugs are enough to sway a sick person or the young person to buy what they sell. Also, worthy to note is the fact that their drugs are inexpensive and so people cannot help but use them without qualified medical doctor’s advice.
Another factor responsible for the growing incidence of drugs abuse especially tramadol abuse is peer pressure or peer group influence. In schools especially, students tend to be lured by friends who are into the drug ‘businesses’. A young boy addicted to drugs may convince a colleague to drink alcohol, sniff cocaine, smoke marijuana or misuse tobacco substances in the name of fashion. Some youngsters who are determined not to defile their bodies with drugs are alienated, scolded, and given provocative names like “kolo, john, anti-so”, etc. To escape these cat-calls and mockery, some easily give up into the advice of abusing drugs in the nick of time.
Interestingly, advertisement has for the past decades have been one of the powerful tools used to lure men to misuse drugs in this country. On the wings of advertisement, young people get carried away by thoughts of fantasy. They begin to feel that they would in no time, beam with smiles, confidence and appear healthy like the smiling confident looking individuals in the advert who have been provident enough to do the right things at the right time. Elegantly dressed and as men and women of high social standing too, they have almost always, compelled their audience to accept them as role models through the quintessence of eloquence and high sounding catchy phrases and slogans like “Marijuana, the heavenly weed that opens the twin doors of wisdom and prosperity!” “Adonko bitters, bitters of the moment!. Brukutu, Barima nsuo” and etc. Deceptive as their behaviours and speeches are, several thousands of young talented people are influenced into imitating their lifestyles and habits.
Curiosity is also one of the factors that accounts for the misuse of drugs. Most young are very curious to find out what is contained in certain types of drugs especially tramadol and other alcoholic substances. They see others happily indulging in drugs. Often times, they find men and women of high social standing smoking and drinking profusely. They irresistibly gross anxious to find out what makes other people indulge in these drugs.
Drug abuse has is attendant problems. Most prominent among them is that it usually impairs the health of those who become addicted to the practice. Quite often, habitual users of strong drugs like tramol, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol become emaciated and completely dehumanized. Predictably, this leads to premature deaths. Habitual drug users are noted to be drowsy, lazy and totally unproductive. Though they may eat a lot, they lack the strength and conscience to contribute to the growth of a country’s economy. In most situations, the illegal use of drugs leads to mental illness. A drug addict easily breaks down psychologically. The abuse of drugs such as marijuana, alcohol and tramadol provokes acts of violence. Those who misuse such drugs become fearless, aggressive, reckless and prone to acts of inhumanity. This, no doubt, disturbs social order.
To combat the drug menace, the following measures should be put in place. There is the need for a nationwide educational campaign, aimed at exposing every citizen to the dangers inherent in using un-prescribed drugs. As much as education is essential, it is equally important for the government to embark on a health revolution. In this respect, hospitals and well-equipped clinics should be established in all towns and villages in the country to give people access to qualified health professionals. As a matter of urgency, hospital fees must be reviewed to make them affordable to the common man. The National Health Insurance Scheme must be regulated enough to cover most hospital bills especially most medicines and laboratory tests which most patients find it very mind-blowing to afford. The government and the security agencies should not delay in waging a relentless war against users and traders of hard drugs like cocaine, tramadol and marijuana. Whenever they are caught, instant punitive measures should be meted to them. In addition, the government is advised to place a ban on the sale of the most commonly abused drugs in the country. Lastly, quack doctors and drug peddlers should be given proper training to enable them conduct their operations more efficiently and effectively. If not, they should be banned from carrying out their operations.
I hope the suggestions presented in this piece would be carefully considered to provide a lasting solution to this abuse of drugs especially tramadol (currently trending) in our country.
MLS Kelly Michael Agbesi
Written by MLS Kelly Michael Agbesi
Obviously, one of the ills plaguing Ghana today is the misuse of drugs specifically tramadol, and other forms of substances which are either poorly regulated or banned for use in the country. Like a strike of light to a petrol or a smoker puffing cigarette smoke in the sky, illegal use and abuse of drugs has engulfed our society so much that most of these young men and women are suffocating to death under its intense canker.
It is in the light of this unfortunate situation that I’ll carefully examine the menace, causes and effects of using the unprescribed drugs and suggest ways to ameliorate it.
First and foremost, any substance (with the exception of food and water) which, when taken into the body, alters the body’s function either physically and/or psychologically is referred to as drug. (Wikipedia 2018). Drugs may be legal (e.g. alcohol, caffeine and tobacco) or illegal (e.g. cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin).
For the crux of my discussions, tramadol abuse by the youth in recent times has become very important for national and for that matter international attention.
What is tramadol?
Tramadol (or “Tramol” as called locally) is an oral tablet and a prescription drug that is available as an immediate-release and extended-release tablet. Tramadol is a controlled substance. This means it can only be used with a doctor’s close supervision.
Why is it used?
Tramadol is used to treat moderate to severe pain. This substance can be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.
How it works!
Tramadol belongs to a “class of drugs” called ‘opioid agonists’. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions. It works by changing how your brain senses pain. Tramadol is similar to substances in your brain called “endorphins”. Endorphins bind to receptors (parts of cells that receive a certain substance). The receptors then decrease the pain messages that your body sends to your brain. Tramadol works in a similar way to decrease the amount of pain your brain thinks you are having. (https:/www.healthline.com/health/tramadol-oral-tablet).
Drug (tramadol) abuse is firmly rooted in the following factors. In other not to “cry the wolf”, the limited and difficult access to healthcare delivery in Ghana contribute to the abuse of the substance of play (Tramadol). Young people, especially, those living in the countryside, have no or little access to the various health facilities across the country. The little available ones are nothing to boast of, due to the poor regulation of the facilities and inefficient accessibility by the use of the National Health Insurance Scheme (which is to regulate medical health-care for the citizens in Ghana. These occurrences makes it very difficult for them to have the opportunity to consult a qualified health professional in moments of sickness, trauma or injury.
Citizens placed on such happenings would only have to rely on “tramol” or any other substance readily available in their surroundings. After all, if there is no qualified health professional, a quack doctor or a chemist’s shop is nearby. What a pity!
Added to this are hospital bills which tend to be unaffordable. The lay person walking on the street is incapable of receiving quality health services in the country. No seer to predict the increasing cost of medications and all kinds of health services provided in the country’s hospitals.
The most disturbing is the embarrassment caused to the poor sick person. Though I do not have evidences to prove to the fact that sick people have to pay money before they could see the doctor but I believe this is one of the many reasons they stay in the corner and kick the bucket slowly but painfully. Is it any wonder for such poor people to shy from high cost medical care and resort to tramadol or street peddlers or buy from a chemist’s shop at a low cost?
Quite prominent among the use of tramadol by young people is the desire of most of them to enhance their performances in various fields of human behaviour. For instance, these young people use tramol and other unprescribed substances to enable them do physically challenging activities. Most of them who are students erroneously believe that some ‘special’ drugs like tramadol would give them the required fitness, strength and mental alertness to improve their performances in the tracks, academics and ability to ‘last long’ in bed.
MLS Kelly Michael Agbesi
The heart is arguably the most popular body part. The heart is mentioned in so many instances — in emotional matters, in religious issues, and health concerned issues. Probably, you lost a relative due to a heart disease or heard some of the world’s generational heroes sadly died of heart-related diseases.
The heart plays an important role in our health: it pumps and distributes blood to all parts of our body, which ensures our survival. The heart is always working. The moment is stops beating, life ceases.
It is therefore essential to check the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease periodically (Cardio = heart, vascular = pertaining to structures that convey fluids, such as blood). This could be done in several ways, but one common and reliable method is to conduct a laboratory investigation to check your lipid profile.
A Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) conducts this test. It is preferable to fast for a period of 10-12 hours (preferably overnight fast). This is because the kind of food you take could alter the results from the test, and the report issued wouldn’t be reflective of your true cardiovascular risk.
A blood sample is used to carry out the test. An analyzer is used to measure or quantify some parameters related to cardiovascular health. These include
- Total Cholesterol (TC)
- High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
- Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
At this point, it is essential to know that the infamous “cholesterol” isn’t really a bad entity. Cholesterol plays key roles in the human body including the production of hormones such as testosterone (this hormone plays an important role male fertility). In addition, cholesterol is used in Vitamin D and Bile production. Cholesterol also plays a very important part in both the creation and maintenance of human cell membrane. So you see? It’s not as bad as they preach it to be, but like any good thing, excess intake poses danger. The liver produces cholesterol too, so don’t have the mentality of taking in cholesterol because you know your body needs it, but rather take it in regulated manner.
Lipoproteins are carriers of cholesterol, that is lipoproteins are carrier bags, and cholesterol are the content they carry. HDL is normally referred to us “good cholesterol” because it removes excess cholesterol from the blood vessels and carries it to the liver for removal. On the other hand, LDL usually referred to as “bad cholesterol” deposits excess cholesterol in walls of blood vessels, which can contribute to atherosclerosis (a usual cause of heart attack), increasing your risk of developing cardiovascular disorder.
A measure of these parameters put together will give a broad indication if you have a cardiovascular risk. Check your lipid profile today. Kindly contact +233 540 666 781.
If you’re concerned about your health, you may have surely come across the word “liver”, perhaps on radio, TV, and even in domestic discussions. Liver stands out as a popular part of the body. Just as the term ‘liver’ is well-known, it is also known popular to hear people lose their precious lives because of complications or infections that affect the liver. These disorders include viral hepatitis, cirrhosis, bile duct obstruction, hepatoma (cancer of the liver) etc. The liver has numerous functions, including production of proteins, enzymes and certain chemicals, detoxification of alcohol and other chemicals, vitamins and minerals, and maintenance of balance of hormones, among other essential functions.
Due to this, it is highly essential for you to protect your liver.
The first step of ensuring your liver is safe is to conduct a liver function test. Your blood sample shall be taken and used to conduct the test by a medical laboratory scientist. Questions popping up in your mind are probably “how can blood be used to check the state of your liver?” Breathe out. As already said, the liver produces some enzymes and other chemicals. These chemicals produced by the liver end up in your blood. So if the quantity being produced is low or high, then it shows there’s something wrong with your liver. The machine/analyzer the Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) uses can measure the quantity of them, and if compared to a standard reference range (normal range of values), we can tell if it’s high or low, hence determination of an ill state of your liver.
These enzymes have unfriendly names. They include
- Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
- Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
- Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT)
- Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)
The Total Protein (TP) in your blood is also measured. Bilirubin is measured as well.
The results for these are critically analyzed by an MLS and a physician to determine whether the ill condition is with the liver itself, or regions close to the liver. Medical attention can be sought right after, and it may involve conduction of other tests for confirmation of diagnosis.
To check your liver function state, kindly contact +233 540 666 781.
PS: This article was written by Joseph Ofori, a graduate of University of Ghana, and a practising Medical Laboratory Scientist. It was proofread by MLS Alexander Kwakye, a Modern Medical Associate and MLS at University Hospital, KNUST.
I’m sure by now you know there’s an essential part of your body called kidney. You may have probably heard someone die from kidney failure or other related conditions. Sometimes we panic, because these complications put to death our loved ones, and we feel same can happen to us. But are you aware that there’s a way to check if your kidney is in good state or not?
Let me introduce you to kidney/renal function test. Just as how you filter unclean water containing visible particles to get rid of the dirt or waste, the kidney filters blood and removes unwanted and harmful waste in it. After filtration, it accumulates those wastes together with excess water from the blood to form urine.
This simply means if your kidney is at fault, a lot of waste shall be kept in your system, and that could be harmful for your health.
A Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) conducts the test. The health professional takes your blood sample for the test (or urine sample, for specific kidney function related tests). He/she comes out with values that represent the state of your kidney.
The parameters measured are mostly Urea, Creatinine, Uric Acid and Electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Bicarbonates). If you skipped the scientific names, welcome back. Don’t let it scare you. I’ll do my best to break it down for you in simple terms the best possible way.
The underlining principle is that the analyzer quantifies the chemicals in your serum (the liquid portion of your blood that the professional draws from you) that are filtered by the kidney to form urine. Your kidney is constantly doing its job, but definitely some of these chemicals will still be in the blood stream. So after quantification, if the above mentioned chemicals are above or below what is expected to be there (according to a reference range), then it indicates your kidney may not be in a good state.
For instance, 98% of all Creatinine produced in the body is excreted or removed by the kidney. So if you have a lot of it in your blood stream… yes, you said it, the kidney isn’t doing its job properly. It’s a similar thing with urea. All the parameters mentioned above put together gives a broad picture of how your kidney is functioning.
The results are evaluated by the MLS and physician to identify what exactly is wrong with your kidney, i.e. if your results are abnormal. Further tests may be conducted to confirm the diagnosis. And appropriate remedy is administered right after. Kidney related conditions are easier to be treated when realized early enough. To conduct your kidney function test, kindly call/SMS/WhatsApp +233 540 666 781.
PS: This article was written by Joseph Ofori, a graduate of University of Ghana, and a practising Medical Laboratory Scientist. It was proofread by MLS Alexander Kwakye, a Modern Medical Associate and MLS at University Hospital, KNUST.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” as the saying goes. Life is precious. Knowing this, one should take note that it is a good habit to conduct various medical tests to know if they’re healthy. However due to some reasons, people fail to do so. That’s why dedicated non-profit organization, Proffer Aid International Foundation (PAIF) has taken upon itself to organize free medical screening and other life-saving activities such as blood donation exercises. PAIF is a not-for-profit organization with the primary aim of improving the quality of health in communities, basically.
Holding groundbreaking successful programmes, namely Penyi Care, Gomoa Care, Blood for Yaro, etc., PAIF is set to storm Kibi. Kibi is a town and the capital of the East Akim Municipal district, a district in the Eastern region of Ghana. Kibi houses the Oforipanin Paramount stool which is the seat of the Okyehene, the paramount chief of the Akim people. Kibi is also the traditional capital of the Akyem Abuakwa.
The theme for this health outreach is “Behind a Smile.” In an interview with the Project Manager for PAIF, Emmanuel Arkorful disclosed “The striking factor that moves PAIF is the passion. Each member has the will to offer service to ensure good health of inhabitants.” He continues “this time we’re going to Kibi to offer free health screening which will encompass malaria, hepatitis B, blood glucose and blood grouping.”
The estimated turnout is 300 people and it shall be held in front of the Chief’s palace on Saturday, 9th June, 2018 from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. Proffer Aid wants to be the reason to make the people of Kibi wear smiles. Furthermore, they want the reason behind that smile to be knowledge of a healthy status. Meet PAIF this Saturday. Inform relatives and friends about this initiative. In perspective of this, intrigued people and associations who wish to support this altruistic and essential course may kindly contact PAIF executives on +233 (0) 277 168 404 (Abeiku) or +233 (0) 243 089 295 (Madinatu).
You may not be a medical practitioner, but you’ve realized most of the time doctors request Full Blood Count (FBC) to be done on patients’ blood samples (By A Medical Laboratory Scientist -MLS). You keep wondering what it is. Out of curiosity, you may have peeped at your FBC report, and all you could make out of it were lots of three letter words, figures and graphs that make no sense to you. Have a seat and enjoy this eye opener.
To understand full blood count, you have to know what is in your own blood. Blood comprises of
- Cells, known as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
- Plasma, which is the liquid part of your blood. Plasma enables blood flow.
Red blood cells contain haemoglobin. Haemoglobin makes your blood have the characteristic red colour. Ever heard the saying “when the last tree falls, the last man dies?”. Or heard that man needs oxygen to survive?. The oxygen binds to haemoglobin in the red blood cells and since blood circulates around the body, oxygen is delivered to all your body parts for various life processes.
White blood cells are the fighting agents in your body. Just like the security service that have different groups of people for various tasks, like soldiers, police, etc., there are different white cells which fight against different disease-causing organisms. Neutrophils fight against bacteria, Eosinophils-parasites, Lymphocytes-viruses, etc.
Platelets allow blood to cease flow to the outside of the body when you get a cut so that you don’t lose a lot of blood.
Plasma contains food nutrients, dissolved gases, hormones, proteins, waste products, etc. and distributes them as they circulate in the body.
Now that we’ve had a picture of our blood components, it will be quite easy to understand the full blood count report. The parameters are abbreviated as:
RBC = Red blood cell
HGB/HB = Haemoglobin
WBC = White blood cells
NEU = Neutrophils
BAS = Basophils
MON = Monocytes
EOS = Eosinophils
LYM = Lymphocytes
PLT = Platelets
There are reference ranges to which the figures/results are compared to, to know whether they’re high or low. The parameter which is high or low will determine what’s wrong with the patient.
HB: High: Polycythemia (abnormal increase in haemoglobin concentration, which may be caused by dehydration, living at high altitudes where there’s low oxygen, smoking, etc.)
Low: Anaemia (abnormal decrease in haemoglobin concentration, which may be caused by lack of folic acid, vitamin B12, iron, or loss of blood through bleeding, etc.)
NEU: High: Bacterial infection, stress, burns, inflammation (response to an injury/damage to living tissue)
Low: Exposure to radiation, effect of the intake of toxic drugs. lack of vitamin B12.
LYM: High: Viral infection, leukaemia (cancerous disease affecting the WBCs)
Low: Prolonged illness, weakened immune system.
MON: High: Viral or fungal infection, tuberculosis, leukaemia.
Low: Bone marrow (it produces blood cells) dysfunction, treatment with cortisol (hormonal drug)
EOS: High: Allergic reactions, parasitic infection, autoimmune diseases (a disease in which the body produces antibodies that attack its own tissues)
Low: Stress, drug toxicity.
BAS: High: Allergic reactions, leukaemia, cancers.
Low: Pregnancy, ovulation, stress.
PLT: Clotting disorders.
There are other parameters such as red cell indices, which are technical.
Next time when you receive your FBC result, at least you’ll have a fair idea about what it entails. We shall bring you a second part of this article which details other aspects.
PS: This article was written by Joseph Ofori, a graduate of University of Ghana, and a practising Medical Laboratory Scientist. It was proofread by MLS Arnold Agyapong and MLS Alexander Kwakye, who are both professional MLS’s also.
You wake up one day and just can’t fathom why you couldn’t have a sound sleep. You can’t really focus or think straight. Why? Because all you have on your mind is getting rid of the headache, your nose won’t stop running, you wish you could cease coughing. Although you’re weak, you decide to utilize the drop of strength you have in you to go to the hospital. Then another thought comes to mind, ‘You can simply let someone get you some antimalarials from the pharmacy’. But then, you boycott the second idea because you’ve heard several times that self-medication is deadly. “How am I even sure it’s malaria? It could be typhoid or any other pathogenic infection.”
Being a resolute person, you make it to the hospital, struggle your way through all queues to finally see the doctor for consultation. He writes a couple of laboratory (lab) tests for you to go do which will enable him have evidence of your ill state. Your blood sample is taken, and you’re asked to collect your urine into a container. After about half an hour, you’re presented with a report to send back to the doctor.
Now, let’s zoom in into the lab portion. What did the Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) really do with the blood and urine samples? The truth is, the doctor wasn’t certain of what actually was the cause of your ill-health. After briefing him on your symptoms, he was left with about three or more possible causes. Therefore, to make an evidence-based diagnosis in order to treat you right, he requested those tests. The MLS run a full blood count, using your blood sample. He also prepared a spherical blood film on a glass slide, and went through processes to see if there were malaria parasites present in your blood. He again did an in-depth analysis on your urine sample. All these were carried out to give a general picture of your health condition.
The report he gave you is the actual reason you walked to the hospital and pushed your buttocks up the hospital benches. It is the pink sheet of your health condition.
In our subsquent articles, we will break down the work of the Medical Laboratory Scientist. It’ll be a nice ride. Stay with us.
By: Joseph ‘Aqweci’ Ofori
“Breakfast is bae” says a school of thought. The other school of thought doesn’t see any problem with skipping breakfast. The latter usually ask the rhetoric, “What is breakfast?” Well, in a sarcastic reply, breakfast is the first meal taken in a day, thus in the morning.
People skip breakfast usually because of busy morning schedules. Some jobs don’t create space for you enjoy your breakfast in peace. Queuing in traffic each morning to make work is no joke. It gives one no time to enjoy a breakfast, hence people make it a habit.
Culture influences everything, and breakfast is no exception. In some parts of the world, making a breakfast is shorter than a quickie. It’s light, and doesn’t guarantee filling up your belly. In our beloved country Ghana, every meal is expected to make us full. In the journey of life as a typical Ghanaian, at least, for once someone will pose the question “is tea too considered food?” to you. This conception makes people see having breakfast to be a time consuming process, because after eating flakes, he/she shall crave for another meal.
Skipping breakfast can have its own demerits. Either of the two schools of thought can win a debate any day once this topic is raised. Let’s walk through 5 critical key points why one shouldn’t miss breakfast.
- To Acquire Energy: We’re advised of eating early to enhance complete digestion and metabolism. After enjoying a delicious supper, thus around 6 or 7 pm, one deprives the body of food for about 13-14 hours. Skipping a breakfast means expanding the body deprivation to adaptive levels. Our body constantly needs glucose. Hence it stores excess glucose in the form of glycogen. After all the barns of glycogen are also used up, fats are converted to glucose, a process called ketosis, which may result in unfavourable conditions.
- To Prevent Fainting: Speaking to Dietitian Stanley Ofosu Quansah, he made it clear that the average Ghanaian seeks curative care rather than preventive. Hence if one is diabetic, he/she may not know. “If a diabetic skips breakfast, his/her blood glucose level can be decreased to as little as 1 mmol/l. This can result in feeling unconscious and fainting.” explains Stanley.
- To Gain Enough Fuel for Daily Acitvities: The brain uses up 70% of all the glucose we take. We can all agree that in the morning we engage our minds a lot in various activities. So how can denying your body of it help you in this way? Stanley emphasizes a favourite catch statement of a dietitian which goes like “in the morning, eat like a queen. In the afternoon, eat like a king. And in the evening, eat like a slave.” They say this because according to the circadian rhythm (regular 24-hour cycle), human beings are naturally active in the day. Therefore you’d need to eat well during breakfast and lunch, and enjoy a light-weight meal as supper because in the night when you’re asleep, metabolism is quite dormant.
- To Prevent Unwanted Gain of Weight: Science reveals that if you continue depriving your body of breakfast, you store a lot of cholesterol or fat, making one gain unnecessary weight. Most of the time people apply the untrue logic that if you starve yourself you lose more weight. The actual fact is the other way round. If you want to continue being the slay mama or the fly guy with 6 packs you’re identified with, then you might not want to play games with your breakfast.
- To Prevent Mouth Odour: On a lighter note, one experiences mouth odour in the morning. One way of saving your breath is taking breakfast with a good scent appeal. People usually think once you brush your teeth you’re safe and clean of all sorts of mouth odour. But as you starve you produce a lot of saliva which you may be tempted to wipe your dry mouth with it, to keep it moist, promoting bad odour. Have you realized keeping your mouth shut for a long time promotes bad breath? Take your breakfast and stay active and fresh throughout the day.
After gaining this insight I trust I can easily guess the school of thought you’re with now. Breakfast is quite essential. If it takes skipping mountains and maneuvering valleys to get it, I advise you do it. You don’t need fufuo or waakye to call it breakfast. Porridge, oats, corn flakes, tom brown, semolina, and such light meals are good breakfast meals that are easy to prepare. Now in your subsequent mornings when you’re about to have your palatable breakfast, crack a smile and remember this article.