Cooperation on health projects
On Wednesday Their Royal Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess and Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim visited the village of Ekumpoano on the coast of Ghana, some two hours drive from the capital Accra.
The purpose of the visit was to see one of the joint projects on which the Ghanaian authorities and UNICEF are collaborating. The delegation was received on the village square by the chief of the community and representatives of the elders.
Working together to solve health issues
UNICEF is supporting the Ghana Health Service in its efforts to follow up the Governments High Impact Rapid Delivery strategy for achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals on reducing child and maternal mortality. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess and the Minister met volunteers and nurses who work at the local health clinic in the area. They were shown around the village and saw how the local population sleep outdoors under malaria nets when their houses become too hot. This is an inexpensive and simple way to combat malaria.
The tour of the village ended up at the beach on the Atlantic Ocean where local fishermen were bringing in the days catch.
Visit to the health clinic
The health clinic is situated just outside the village and is staffed by two nurses and two volunteers. The main tasks of the clinic involve monitoring the health of mothers and children, diagnosing and treating malaria, diarrhoea and coughs. In addition, the clinic offers HIV testing and follow-up care. Patients suffering from more serious diseases are referred to other parts of the health system.
Crown Princess Mette-Marit observed how staff at the clinic use simple methods to detect HIV infection and received an introduction into patients follow-up care. Compared with other countries in Africa, the rate of infection for HIV/AIDS in Ghana is low. Some two per cent of the population are infected. Women are the most affected, accounting for some 60 per cent of all HIV infections in Ghana. Unfortunately, the proportion of pregnant women infected with HIV has also shown an increase.
Study centre in Brenu
The Norwegian company Kulturstudier AS runs a study centre in Brenu in cooperation with the Oslo University College and the University of Cape Coast. The students come primarily from Scandinavia and participate in a one-semester Global Environmental Management programme. Excursions to places where the students can see the environmental challenges facing Ghana first-hand are an important part of the curriculum. The course provides Norwegian students with a chance to gain a good understanding of environmental management in Africa.
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess were given a guided tour of the centre and took the opportunity to talk to students from both Norway and Ghana.
A dark chapter
On Wednesday afternoon the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and the Minister visited Elmina Castle. The old fortress was originally built by the Portuguese in 1482 and fast became the first trading post on the Gulf of Guinea. Slaves were an important commodity and thousands were sent from Africa by force via this fort. Norway, too, played a role in the slave trade, a topic Crown Prince Haakon touched on in his speech at the banquet on Tuesday evening:
There are also historical relations between Ghana and Norway. A dark spot here is the Norwegian contribution to the Danish-Norwegian engagement in the slave trade from the 17th to the 19th century. It is estimated that 50 000 West African slaves were taken across the Atlantic on Danish-Norwegian ships.
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess were given a tour around the castle by representatives of Ghanas Ministry of Chieftancy and Culture. Today Elmina Castle is on UNESCOs World Heritage List, in memory of all those affected by the slave trade and as a reminder that actions of this type must never be allowed to happen again.
Reception for Norwegians in Ghana
On Wednesday evening Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit will be attending a reception for Norwegian companies and Norwegian citizens living in Ghana. The reception will be hosted by Consul General Morten Gade.
Condolences from His Majesty King Harald to His Holiness Pope Francis.
Congratulations from His Majesty King Harald to the new President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, His Excellency Mr Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.