Five things you should know about HIV and AIDS

  1. What are HIV and AIDS?

HIV—Human Immunodeficiency Virus— a virus that weakens the body’s immune system gradually, ultimately causing AIDS.

AIDS—Acquired Immune-deficiency Syndrome— is the most advanced stage of HIV infection, which can take from 2 to 15 years to develop depending on the individual. AIDS is defined by the development of certain cancers, infections, or other severe clinical manifestations.

  1. How is HIV transmitted?

HIV can be transmitted through direct contact with a HIV positive person’s body fluids, such as blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions. Individuals cannot become infected through ordinary day-to-day contact such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or sharing personal objects, food or water. Also, a person cannot get HIV by sharing a school bus or classroom or working at the same workplace of with people that are HIV positive

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  1. Is there a treatment for HIV and AIDS?

 There is no cure for HIV infection but there is treatment available, called the antiretroviral treatment (ART). With effective ART, people living with HIV can enjoy healthy and productive lives.

  1. What are the signs and symptoms of HIV infection?

HIV infection goes unnoticed for years as generally there are no exclusive symptoms. The first few weeks after initial infection, individuals may experience no symptoms or an influenza-like illness including fever, headache, rash or sore throat.

  1. How do I know if I have an HIV infection?

The only way to know if you have HIV is to take a blood test. Though people living with HIV tend to be most infectious in the first few months, many are unaware of their status until later stages. Remember, you don’t need to be sick to take an HIV test! It is better to test early.

For more information, please visit: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs360/en/

SUPPORTED BY ILO AND OASIS WEBSOFT COLLABORATION. 

Pollution Kills As Many People As Cancer Does, UN’s New Environment Chief Warns

The new head of the United Nations environment agency today laid out key issues facing the international community on environmental issues, including pollution as well as the linkages among the environment, wars and conflicts, and migration.

“The World Health Organisation has estimated that seven million people on the planet are dying from pollution – that is more or less the same number of people dying from cancer,” the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Erik Solheim, told reporters in Geneva.

In his remarks, the former Norwegian politician and diplomat flagged the role that partnerships could play in UNEP’s mission, noting that “at the very minimum we will be ready to go into partnerships with companies who either behave well or are ready to change,” and citing a recent agreement in Addis Ababa to look into a partnership with Ethiopian Airlines to find ways to assist the company in achieving the maximum fuel efficiency.

The second issue is “to look into the crossroads between environment and wars and conflicts and migration,” said Mr. Solheim.

To bring greater focus to these priorities, he said, it is necessary to reach out to more people and change narratives to get closer to people’s hearts. As a first step, he is considering changing the organisation’s name from “UNEP” to “UN Environment.”

Mr. Solheim also highlighted how his past experience would help inform him in his new role. As a negotiator of the peace process in Sri Lanka between 1998 to 2005, Mr. Solheim said he had gained valuable lessons, including the importance of dialogue and compromise.

“In my view you should always try to talk even with political leaders as well as guerrilla leaders or terrorists leaders who do not seem to be amendable to compromise – let’s try talking,” he said.

Mr. Solheim was elected to the UNEP position for a four-year term by the General Assembly on 13 May this year, succeeding Achim Steiner of Germany, who led the agency for the past 10 years.

SOURCE: ALLAFRICA.COM

WHY THE FUSS ABOUT HEALTHY EATING

“I don’t eat meat anymore”, “I am on a fruit diet”, “eggs are not good for my healthy”, “I don’t drink milk anymore, am on a weight loss journey” these are among some common health conscious phrases we hear in Ghana. It is very commendable that individuals are becoming aware of the toll unhealthy diets have on their health and they try making conscious efforts each day towards healthy eating. Unfortunately many of us do not understand the concept of healthy eating; we are either using logic to approach healthy eating or reenacting what we read on the internet which is shrouded with myths and exaggerated truths. It is very important we finally grasp the concept of healthy eating and its true importance.

Healthy eating can be likened to fueling an automobile. You would need the right type of fuel in the right quantity for the car to work at its optimal best. If the automobile is fueled with the wrong type of fuel, the engine might breakdown, in a similar manner if automobile is fueled with less amount of fuel the car might function for a while but breakdown due to fuel shortage. Same happens in the human body. Food is fuel for the body, so the right type of food and adequate amounts should be eaten at all times. This is referred to as the concept of healthy eating.

This highlights the need to know the right type of meals you need to eat and the recommended amounts your body needs, this is because every individual has different needs and body composition. What may have worked for your friend, relative or favorite fitness blogger may not work for you simply because you are two different individuals with different requirements. It is therefore essential to seek advice from the right professionals for a comprehensive assessment of your needs and professional advice on how to resolve your dietary concerns.

ARTICLE BY SALOMEY KOKORO
OFFICIAL DIETICIAN OF BISA
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FOUR HEALTHY MODIFICATIONS FOR INFANT MEALS

a childInfant feeding can be a real daunting task. The struggle of finding the right healthy meal options for optimal growth coupled with fussy eating habits of children, mums of today are most likely to continuously stick to the one recipe or food brand their infant tolerates most and this act may result in certain unforeseen nutrient deficiencies in the child. Healthy eating should always adapt the principles of variety, balance and moderation.
Below are a few healthy modification, moms can try when cooking staples for their infants, to increase nutrient content of meals.

1. RICE
– Blend cooked vegetables (beet root, carrot, turkey berry, fresh Moringa leaves) and use as base for cooking rice.
– Cooked Vegetables can be diced or grated into rice (beet root, carrot).
– Coconut flesh and water can be blended and used as base.

2. PORRIDGES
– Coconut pulp and water can be blended and used as base for preparing porridges. Especially corn, oats & wheat based porridges.

3. YAM/POTATOES
– Boiled yam/potatoes can be mashed with grated carrot or beet roots.
– Vegetables can be steamed and mixed with mashed yam/potato.

4. FRUITS
– Fruits (washed and cleaned) can be mashed and mixed with milk. Fruits like pawpaw, banana, mango or soursop.
[Fruit – one portion, Milk – 3 teaspoons, or yoghurt – 240mls]

ARTICLE BY SALOMEY KOKORO
OFFICIAL DIETICIAN OF BISA
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Healthy Recipes: Whole Wheat Stir fry

stirFryTired of plain and boring white rice, let discover new ways to infuse some health into your daily meal choices. Whole wheat grains have been described to expose the body to a broader spectrum of nutrients. The bran and endosperm of the grain are packed with proteins, fiber, iron, B Vitamins       and antioxidants. Whole wheat has been linked with positive outcomes in the management of diabetes, blood cholesterol and weight control. This is just one of the reasons why you should include more wheat grains in your meals.

When we talk of wheat based meals, try thinking beyond wheat bread. There is a vast array of recipes which includes wheat as its main staple. Below is a simple wheat based recipe you can try

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat grains, 3/4 cup
  • Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Vegetable oil ,1 tablespoon
  • Carrot , 3 small grated
  • Red/green bell pepper , 2 medium bulbs chopped
  • Onions, 2 medium bulbs chopped
  • Ginger, 2 teaspoons grated
  • Garlic, 1 clove minced
  • White pepper, ¼  teaspoon
  • Black pepper, ¼ teaspoon
  • Egg, 2 egg whites beaten
  • grilled chicken breast, 4 ounces shredded

Preparation

    1. Cook wheat in a small saucepan with 1 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
    2. Cover and cook, undisturbed, until wheat absorbs water, about 1 hour. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and leave uncovered.
    3. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add black pepper and white and stir for 10seconds
    4. Add egg whites. Stir gently until egg is evenly distributed.
    5. Add onions, ginger, garlic, if desired; cook, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes.
    6. Add cooked quinoa and stir gently
    7. Sprinkle chopped pepper and grated carrots into mixture. Stir gently until it is evenly distributed.
    8. Allow to cook for 2 minutes and add shredded grilled chicken. Stir until it is evenly distributed.
    9.  Serve with some side salad (optional) and enjoy.

ARTICLE BY SALOMEY KOKORO
OFFICIAL DIETICIAN OF BISA
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Healthy Recipes: Banana Pancake

pancakeThis recipe is for pancake lovers who are cutting back on a few calories. A typical pancake recipe comprises of some ounces of calorie; dense flour, milk, eggs and butter totaling 160kcal for one six inches (6’) pancake without toppings. With a few healthy modifications you can enjoy this low calorie banana pancake (90kcal) which does not include FLOUR. This delicious recipe is also loaded with nutrients; potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, fiber to mention a few.

I must also add, this a great meal or snack for children, especially fussy eaters. It is delicious and very easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder, for fluffier pancakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla or ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil, for the pan.

Toppings

  • Maple syrup or jam.
  • 1 cup fresh fruit, like mango, pawpaw or apples.

Utensils

  • Small mixing bowls
  • Fork
  • Nonstick griddle or frying pan.
  • Spatula

Instructions

  1. Mash the banana: Peel the banana and break it up and mash until the banana has a pudding-like consistency and no large lumps remain.
  2. Add any extra ingredients: Add 1/8 teaspoon of baking powder for fluffier, lighter pancakes, and whisk in salt, cinnamon or vanilla to add flavor to the pancakes.
  3. Stir in the eggs: Whisk the eggs together until the yolk and whites are completely combined. Pour the eggs over the banana and stir until the eggs are completely combined.
  4. Heat a pan over medium heat: Melt a little butter or warm a little vegetable oil in the pan to prevent sticking, if you like.
  5. Drop the batter on hot pan: Drop roughly 2 tablespoons of batter onto the hot pan. It should sizzle immediately — if not, turn up the heat slightly.
  6. Cook for about 1 minute: Cook the pancakes until the bottoms look browned and golden when you lift a corner.
  7. Sprinkle with toppings: Sprinkle any loose toppings, like nuts or fruits, over the top of the pancakes. Serve and enjoy.

Macronutrient Comparison

Regular pancake (white flour, egg, milk, oil)

 Calorie: 323kcal, carbohydrate: 41g protein: 12g fat: 11g fiber: 1.3g

Banana pancake (banana, egg, oil)

 Calorie: 147kcal, carbohydrate: 23g protein: 4.7g fat: 0.39g fiber: 2.6g

Banana has a relatively low calorie as compared to regular pancake thus it is highly recommended for weight management. Not only is it a low calorie meal option, it is also loaded with nutrients namely potassium, B vitamins and vitamin C which are beneficial in warding off many diseases.

ARTICLE BY SALOMEY KOKORO
OFFICIAL DIETICIAN OF BISA
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NUTRITION SPOTLIGHT: Guava

guavaGuava is a tropical fruit with a unique flavor and rich nutritional profile. Its outer skin is usually light green, yellow or maroon when ripe. The soft sweet pulp of guava is either white or maroon with small hard seeds encased within it.

Considering its health promoting benefits, guavas can be considered as a “super fruit”. Originally believed to have originated from the warm tropics of south America and commonly cultivated in Asian countries , this super fruit is now cultivated in Ghana as a cash crop.

Significant Nutrients

  • Vitamin A – The guava fruit is a very good source of vitamin A and carotenoids. Guava provides 12% of our daily vitamin A needs whereas an apple provides only 1% of our daily needs.
  • Vitamin C – Again in comparison with apple which provides only 8% of daily needs whiles guavas provide a whopping 328% of daily vitamin C needs. The pulp right underneath the peel of the fruit contains the highest amount of the nutrient.
  • Potassium- Fresh guava fruit is a very rich source of potassium. It contains more potassium than other fruits like banana per 100g. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Lycopene – Many studies suggest that eating lycopene-rich foods may be linked to reduced risk of cancer, prostate enlargement, heart disease, and age-related eye disorders. 100 g of pink guava fruit provides 5204 µg of lycopene, nearly twice the amount in tomato. (Tomatoes have been promoted as an excellent source of lycopene).
  • Fiber – significant source of soluble fibers; pectin and mucilage. Soluble fibers are known to greatly regulate blood sugar levels and also ward off many disease conditions. Individuals with high blood cholesterol levels have recorded significantly improved lipid profiles after 3 months intake of high soluble fiber foods.

Health benefits

  • Hypertension – The blood pressure lowering effect of guava can be associated to its significant amount of potassium and niacin.
  • High cholesterol – Guava has a cholesterol lowering effect due to its significant amounts of soluble fiber.
  • Eye health Macular degeneration and cataract development can be slowed or prevented by the frequent intake of the super fruit guava mainly due to its rich content of the antioxidant vitamin A.
  • Boost immune system – Guavas have been found to boost the body’s defenses against infections due to its outstandingly high antioxidant reserves. Vitamin C is known to boost the defenses of white blood cells; lycopene in the pink pulp of guava is also known to protect the skin from damage by the sun.
  • Nicotine addiction – High vitamin C levels in guava helps with neutralizing nicotine in the body.

ARTICLE BY SALOMEY KOKORO
OFFICIAL DIETICIAN OF BISA
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WE ARE BOTH CARRIERS. WE WILL HAVE 4 KIDS AND HOPEFULLY ONLY ONE WILL HAVE SICKLE CELL ANAEMIA

Before I go on let me explain some terminologies. Sickle Cell DISEASE is NOT the same as Sickle Cell Anaemia. The former, is a big, blanket term for all the abnormalities that are possible genetically, so technically, carriers who are “AS” can be described as having Sickle Cell Disease as well as those with “SS”. The latter refers specifically to those with the SS genotype.

This is the reality: in Ghana, 25% of us are CARRIERS for Sickle Cell Disease. Considering our population currently, that means 6million to 7million of us are carrying an abnormal Sickle Cell gene that together with the same or another abnormal Sickle Cell gene from a carrier (or even a partner with the disease) partner can cause the birth of a child with sickle cell anaemia.
It is not so uncommon in my practice for a couple, married or not, to make the assertion expressed in the title of this article. Mostly, they marry without knowing their status and when they find out by some other means, then the question of probability and chances come up: “So is it the first or fourth child that will have it?” “Can we try (that is, become pregnant) again?” “Surely, we cannot have more than two kids all having the problem?”

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Consider the above illustration: The scenario on the left is where a carrier and a “normal” person produce children and none of the kids will have Sickle Cell Anaemia. It is the scenario on the right that is the focus of this article; here both parents are carriers and thus there is a 25% (one-in-four) chance of having a child born with Sickle Cell Anaemia.
So does it mean that once two carriers copulate with a resultant pregnancy, the baby will definitely have Sickle Cell Anaemia, that is, SS?
The answer is NO. There is a one-in-four chance that every pregnancy will result in a child with SS genotype, that is, Sickle Cell Anaemia.
Wait a minute; what do I want to say? Does it mean that for the two carrier partners, when say they have 4 kids only one will have Sickle Cell Anaemia (that is, SS genotype)?
NO! Imagine you have 4 tomatoes in your bowl; 3 green (AS or AA) and the 4th red (SS). Each time there is a pregnancy it is as if you are dipping your hand into this bowl of 4 tomatoes to pick one at random (this is the one-in-four or 25%) with your eyes closed. You don’t know which one will come out (this is the chance).
Now, this is the confusion for most people. They assume that if for the first chance (likened to first pregnancy) say the “child is SS” (red tomato) as they say, then that is it. They further assume then that they can go ahead to have 3 more kids as they will all be “normal” (green tomatoes). This is because they think that once they dipped their hand into the bowl the first time and the red tomato came out, the bowl will now have only 3 green tomatoes for the subsequent “lucky dip”. Meaning, it is impossible to pick red tomato again because that particular one has already been taken out.
The fact is, in the event of two carrier parents, for each pregnancy the slate is wiped clean. The button is reset and there will always be 3 green tomatoes plus one red tomato in the bowl; meaning for each pregnancy, you start all over again. So a couple, both carriers can have 5 kids all “normal” or all SS; or one, two or more of either. It’s all a probability or chance and no one including Science can predict. (I should be careful, may be the Mathematicians can work something out!)
ON THIS WORLD SICKLE CELL DAY:
• Let’s screen our kids at birth so we know their status
• Tell your kids their statuses once they begin to comprehend and not later than 10 years of age
• Every adolescent in Senior High School MUST be tested to know his or her status
• Discuss your sickle cell status with the partner with whom you hope to have kids
• No one should decide for you who to marry or have kids with, but if you decide to do so as carriers, educate yourself on the implications of having a child with Sickle Cell Anaemia and where you can get help
• Finally, no one is a SICKLER; there are only persons with Sickle Cell Disease or Sickle Cell Anaemia. DO NOT STIGMATISE AGAINST THEM. LOVE THEM, EMPLOY THEM, HELP THEM.

ARTICLE BY 
DR LAWRENCE OSEI-TUTU
OFFICIAL DOCTOR OF BISA AND SPECIALIST PAEDIATRICIAN AND HEALTH ADVOCATE; KOMFO ANOKYE TEACH HOSP-KATH-GHANA

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THE FREIGHT TRAIN- STDs: Herpes

I had a hard time picking which STD to write on considering that they are quite a lot to begin with. I however thought about the commonest STDs among the youth and settled on herpes.

Herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease that can affect the mouth (oral) or the genitals. It is caused by the simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or the simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Herpes is very common and sometimes have symptoms which we will discuss.

ORAL HERPES

Oral herpes leaves its victims with cold sores. Cold sores or fever blisters are small, painful, fluid filled blisters that appears on the mouth, throat, cheek, chin, nose or fingers. People with oral herpes may experience itching or pain at the affected area which will be preceded by blisters in a day or two. After the blister occurs, they break, leak infectious fluid and then crust in over a period of 2-24 days.

Oral herpes can be contracted during oral, vaginal or anal sex with an infected person. It can be spread though close contact with an infected person or through a kiss. An infected person can also spread the virus to other parts of his or her body upon touch. Avoid contact with infected person- sexual intercourse even with condom should be avoided till the sore is fully treated. People with herpes should regularly wash their hands to avoid spreading to others.

GENITAL HERPES

As the name implies, genital herpes occurs around the genitals. Genital herpes may sometimes be mistaken for some other skin condition like pimple. It is always good practice to report any skin condition that occurs after an unprotected sex. Genital herpes sores may leave blisters around the genitals which is sometimes accompanied by flu like symptoms such as fever, body aches, and swollen glands.

Both herpes can easily be treated although there is no cure. Herpes during pregnancy can cause a lot problems to the unborn baby. The baby may be delivered early or even worse there could be a miscarriage. Babies can also be born with a potentially deadly infection. It is therefore important not to get STD during one’s pregnancy. Pregnant women with herpes can protect their babies by reporting to their doctors early that they have herpes so that they are treated for it.

Oral/Genital Herpes
Oral/Genital Herpes

Sources: Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Mayo Clinic, www.herpes.com

3 Quick and Healthy Eating Tips for People on A Busy Schedule.

In this day and era, with busy mornings, buzzing vehicular traffic, deadlines to meet, long hours at work, late nights at work, it is quite cumbersome to juggle all these with staying fit and eating healthy. Most people cannot afford to take some few minutes off their schedule to cook a well-balanced nutritious meal.

Below are few healthy eating tips to help someone who is always on the go to enhance overall health, boost immunity, gain or lose weight.

1.     Shop for healthy convenient foods – Having quick and convenient nutritious ingredients at home or workplace will ensure you eat healthy even with a tight work schedule.  Foods such as instant oats, tom brown, high fiber breakfast cereal, low fat milk, low fat                 yogurt,                   granola/muesli & fruits are all quick meal alternative you can make use of on a busy           day.

2.     Plan ahead – if there is a day (or days) when you’re always late home, make sure you have the ingredients for a meal that is quick to cook. This highlights the need for the earlier point, always have healthy ingredients available.    E.g. Spaghetti & Stew, Boiled rice & Soup, Quick porridge.

3.     Breakfast meals for supper – If there’s nothing else at hand, a quick bowl of a low sugar ,high fiber breakfast cereal with milk is a good nutritious ‘fast food’ – keep some at work too.

4.     Meal preps – this is nothing fancy. On your less busy nights or weekends, Cook in bulk.

Whether you cooking rice, stew, soup, steaming meat, fish or even porridges , cook extra          portions so you can freeze some for a later date – ensuring that you always have a                   nutritious meal in the house ready for those ‘I’m too tired to even think about cooking’ days.

ARTICLE BY SALOMEY KOKORO
OFFICIAL DIETICIAN OF BISA
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