The First Lady, Lordina Mahama, has observed that, the Bolgatanga Municipality of the Upper East Region, has a strategic role to play in government’s quest to transform the tourism industry into a leading foreign exchange earner thereby contributing significantly to the country’s economic development.
She further noted that the municipality, known as the largest producer of leather works and straw baskets in the country could use its vibrant art and crafts industry to boost the country’s tourism industry and increase its contribution to the national economy.
The First Lady made the observation when the Lordina Foundation with the support of its international partners, MedShare of the United States presented medical equipment and supplies to the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital at Bolgatanga.
The equipment includes hospital and theatre beds, plastic adhesives, syringes, masks, gloves, electrical orthopaedic beds, plastic bandages and Urological products.
The presentation at Bolgatanga yesterday brings to ten the number of regions who had so far benefitted from the Lordina foundation’s nationwide medical outreach programme to support health facilities in mainly deprived communities of the country.
As part of the programme, a free medical screening exercise on breast cancer and syphilis, HIV testing and counseling for residents of the region who are mainly women was carried out.
The programme, dubbed “Prevention of mother-to-child transmission-the key to an HIV free generation and keeping mothers alive campaign” was being sponsored by the Ghana Chapter of the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS(OAFLA) and the Ghana Aids Commission.
She announced that the government through the Ministry of Tourism has evolved strategies to come up with programmes to create “stronger linkages and cohesion between the crafts and tourism sectors along an integrated value chain which the Municipality has a key role to play”.
She indicated further that the Ministry of Tourism and key players in the creative industry were working on strategies to among other things facilitate the training of artisans on the basic principles of business tourism which allowed the artisans to be more successful in reaching out to tourism markets locally and abroad.
“Ghana can use crafts and tourism to attract tourists from all over the World into the country in order to turn the tourism industry into a leading foreign exchange earner contributing significantly to our Gross Domestic Product”, she stressed.
The First lady, intimated that “handicrafts are also hugely important in our non-traditional exports and could contribute largely to our economic development of the country and there was therefore the need to preserve cultural heritage, traditional skills and talents which are associated with people’s lifestyles and history”.
She pointed out that there were cultural tourists in the World who were usually keen on learning about the history and local culture of a people hence emphasis must also be placed on cultural tourism.
She assured that government was committed to completing the expansion of the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital so that it would serve as a training center for nurses and midwives and other health personnel.
She appealed to the chiefs and elders of the community to advise the youth in the region to be circumspect and not to engage in violent acts that would mar the peace in the country before, during and after the general elections.
She said as a mother “I would not want to see any woman or child suffer because whenever there was violence anywhere in the world they suffer the most”.
The Regional Medical Director, Dr. Kofi Issah who received the items indicated that the equipment would be put to good use to help improve on health indicators in the region particularly among women and children who are the most vulnerable in deprived communities.
He said the hospital had achieved 98 per cent of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PTMTC) and out of 12 babies born by HIV/AIDS positive mothers only one tested positive to the disease.
For his part, the Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. Albert Abongo indicated that the Lordina foundations campaign to reduce mother-to-child transmission in HIV infection had yielding positive results as her efforts has gained international recognition.
The First Lady was accompanied by the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection,NanaOyeLithur, t Member of Parliament for Navrongo Central, Mr. Mark Owen Woyongo and the National Women’s Organizer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Hajia Joyce Zenabu.