Former legislator for Abuakwa South constituency in the Eastern Region of Ghana and Ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs in the John Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party [NPP] administration, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has officially set his 2016 presidential campaign in motion with a tour of some regions in the country.
The former Accra Academy Senior High School tutor-turned-celebrated lawyer is contesting the presidential elections for the third-time on the trot. Will he be 3rd time lucky? Alhaji Bature Iddrisu and A. A. Yayra in this article evaluate his chances going into the upcoming December 7 polls.
From his days as General Secretary of the broad-based People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice (PFMJ) to a successful career in the legal profession and later, as leader of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) since 2007, Nana Akufo-Addo has remained a force to reckon with in Ghana’s political landscape most particularly with promises galore in recent times to the annoyance of his own party folks.
A son of Sir Edward Akufo-Addo, the third Chief Justice of Ghana who was later appointed ceremonial President in the Second Republic from 1969-1972, the former Foreign Affairs Minister with his rich and enviable political career is for the third-time, running for the seat of the highest office of the land [presidency].
His main challenger in the December 7 elections is sitting President, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama of the governing National Democratic Congress [NDC].
Like Nana Akufo-Addo, President Mahama also comes from a powerful political family. President Mahama’s late father, Mr. Emmanuel Adama Mahama, was the first Member of Parliament for West Gonja constituency and also, first regional Commissioner for the Northern region in the government of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Nana Akufo-Addo’s first attempt at the presidency was in 2008 where he lost to then opposition leader John Atta Mills, thus; sending his party (NPP) into opposition. In 2012 when Nana, as he is fondly called, thought he could redeem his image by recapturing power for the NPP, he suffered another excruciating defeat at the hands of Mr. John Dramani Mahama.
Unsatisfied with the outcome of the 2012 elections, Nana Akufo-Addo; his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and then NPP National Chairman, the late Jake Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey challenged the results at the country’s apex court [Supreme Court], where he again, lost.
Prior to this, in 1998, Akufo-Addo in furtherance to his presidential ambition entered the 2000 NPP flag bearer race but lost to his then fierce contender, Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor. Affectionately called the ‘gentle giant’, Mr. Kufuor later won power for the opposition party after almost 30 years in the political wilderness.
Sworn in as president on January 7, 2001, John Kufuor appointed Akufo-Addo, his one-time bitter rival, to serve in two  key strategic ministerial portfolios in his government; Justice and Attorney General, and Foreign Affairs.
The three-time NPP flag bearer, contesting now at age 72 on the platform of a “cash-strapped” opposition battling with internal cohesion, has a herculean task achieving his childhood dream of equaling his late father’s feat as Head of State in this year’s election.
His hopes of perhaps trying his “luck’ for possibly the last time comes at a time the incumbent NDC is “busking” in unity and delivering on what party functionaries say are “unprecedented achievements”.
Nana Addo himself acknowledged the daunting task annexing the presidency when he narrated his two depressing attempts at the presidency. “I have tried the presidency on two occasions and it did not work. Help me this time around, help me bring the needed development into this country,” he recently stated at a mini rally at Amenfi West in the Western region.
Former Information Minister in the Kufuor government, Madam Oboshie Sai-Coffie; MP for Dome Kwabenya, Serah Adjoa Safo; chief of Agona Kwanyako, Nana Ampim Darko V among others have been predicting a third-time luck for Akufo-Addo.
It however, remains to be seen whether these propositions are fictional, wishful thinking or a political feat calculated to keep hopes of the NPP fanatics who have become very disappointed following division in the party and impracticable promises of their standard-bearer.
For now, whether Nana Akufo-Addo will be third time lucky remains a puzzle which would be answered after the December 7 elections by Madam Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission [EC].
An astute politician, an avid human rights campaigner and a strong apostle of rule of law, justice, and democracy, Akufo-Addo, who is also known to move crowds with his spectacular command over the Queen’s language, is also credited with moving thousands of Ghanaians onto the street in the infamous “Kumi Preko” demonstration in 1995 to protest against the harsh economic conditions of the Jerry Rawlings government.
Nana the Underdog
As earlier stated, while Nana Addo may not be new to Ghana politics, many Ghanaians see him as the underdog going into this year’s election. They tip NDC’s John Mahama as the favorite.
In spite of forecasts by London-based Economic Intelligence Unit [EIU] and some revered Seers of a slim marginal win for Akufo Addo, majority of Ghanaians interviewed believe the unparalleled achievements of the NDC government, the demeanor of the president and incumbency advantage among other factors put John Mahama and the governing party ahead of Akufo Addo and the NPP.
The NPP and its flag bearer are going into this year’s election with unresolved internal party squabbles. Nana Akufo Addo has been accused of being behind the persecution of some NPP stalwarts perceived to be aligned to former President John Kufuor which has further fractured the main opposition party. Allegation of misappropriation of party funds for which Nana Akufo-Addo has been severally accused as being a beneficiary remains hanging.
These and other disturbing factors have in some instances forced party communicators to be responding to issues relating to the internal affairs of the NPP rather than taking on the government or prosecuting their campaign agenda.
The party spent the better part of 2014 fighting internal battles resulting in sometimes bloody clashes at their Asylum Down headquarters. The suspensions of National Chairman Paul Afoko; General Secretary, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong aka ‘general one’; 2nd vice Chairman, Sammy Crabbe and other leading members of the party has since left the biggest opposition party in Ghana divided ahead of the elections in December.
Allegations about Nana Akufo-Addo plotting the defeat of some veteran MPs he perceived as internal opponents have also created divisions in some constituencies known to be traditional NPP strongholds. Constituencies such as Nhyiaso, Subin, Bosomtwe, Manhyia North, Ablekuma West, Ofoase Ayirebi, Klottey Korley, Adansi Asokwa, Asante Akim North, Weija, Tema West and several others are all “boiling” due to Nana Akufo-Addo’s alleged unseen hands since the party’s primaries to elect parliamentary candidates.
Suspended founder-member of the NPP, Dr. Nyaho Tamakloe and other notable members of the party have cast doubts about Nana Akufo-Addo’s chances in this year’s election.
The opposition party’s main opponent, the NDC, though appeared united; it also has some challenges to contend with.
The governing party, according news report, is battling with appointees arrogance, complacency, grassroots neglect among other unresolved issues which political pundits say, could result in apathy among its members in this year’s election.
Though the analysts have pointed out that opposition parties desirous of toppling incumbent governments in any political sphere are usually united and will take on government on things they think government was not doing well, the case of the NPP is the antithesis of this proposition.
The December 7 elections will be the seventh democratic elections conducted in Ghana since the start of the Fourth Republic in 1992, and any of the candidates of the two leading political parties who wins will make history.
A win for Nana Akufo-Addo will avert his otherwise planned “political send-off” as he will put back smiles on the faces of NPP members after leading them out of government in 2008 and keeping them there for eight years. Akufo Addo will also become the first presidential candidate in the history of the country to have won an election at almost age 73 if he succeeds at this year’s polls.
However, in the event the NPP flag bearer loses the election for the third-time, he will thus join the likes of the late, J B Danquah and Prof Adu Boahen, all of the UP tradition, to have had their hopes of ascending to the presidency dashed as a result of defeats. His name will be ingrained in the history books of the NPP as the only flag bearer to have led the party to three successive defeats and kept it in opposition for 12 years.
For President Mahama, a win in this year’s election will make him the longest serving Head of State of the country since 1992, and the only President to have been sworn into office three times on the trot.
Again, Mr. Mahama will make history in the event he fails to retain power as, he will be the first incumbent President in the history of the 4th Republic to have lost election and thereby becoming a one-term president like his Nigerian friend and counterpart, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azekiwe Jonathan.
Practices in the last six elections dating back to 1992 have established a convention which shows that incumbent Presidents have been mostly favored for a second term to prove their mettle. Except the case of the late President John Mills who passed on before the end of his first term in office.
Both former Presidents, Jerry Rawlings on the ticket of the NDC, and NPP’s John Agyekum Kufuor, without difficulty, won their second term bids in the 1996 and 2004 elections respectively.
This, the NDC and President Mahama are banking hopes on to woo electorates in support of the latter’s second-term bid. Following his acclamation as flag bearer of the ruling party three months to the 2012 elections, President Mahama argued that all political parties in recent history have been given second terms and since the NDC had only been in power for four years, there was the need to give it additional four years to continue with the good works in transforming the country and positively affecting the lives of the Ghanaian people.
However, in this year’s election, President Mahama seems to have varied his second-term argument. According to Mr Mahama, both Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor were given second term so he also deserves to be considered as such. This is against the background of the fact that the NDC is going into the election for the third-time, but for the president, it is his second-time.
Renowned UK-based Ghanaian columnist, Atta Kofi have observed that “if the Rawlings and Kufour two terms could be regarded as scientifically establishing customary practice and therefore the Ghanaian electorate will follow suit in 2016, then the odds favour incumbent Mahama to win his second-term. On the other hand, if the practice is for the ruling party and not the incumbent candidate, then NDC has had its two terms and now the turn of NPP, so the advantage is on the side of Nana Akufo Addo to win the presidency in November [December 7] elections.”
To checkmate any threat the President’s argument may pose to his third attempt at the presidency, the NPP flag bearer has been making strenuous efforts to shoot down Mr Mahama’s calls for a second term. “When we look at your track-record in office and it is poor, the people of Ghana would kick you out. The case of Goodluck Jonathan is exactly the same as that of our President. Goodluck Jonathan only became President because his boss passed away. When it came to standing election for a 2nd term, the people of Nigeria decided that he was underserving of another term in office. There was no 2nd term for Jonathan. The same way in this year’s elections, I am confident that Ghanaians will say to Mahama ‘No 2nd term’, especially when his party, the NDC, was in fact enjoying a second successive term in office,” Nana Akufo-Addo noted.
Third Time Lucky
Late John Mills; former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade; Former Brazilian President, Lula da Silva, and Nigerian President Gen Buhari’s successes at the polls on their third and fourth attempts have bolstered the confidence of some leading lights in the opposition NPP, including Nana Akufo-Addo himself, that, he will also be third-time lucky.
Proponents of the John Mills and Akufo Addo comparison may be oblivious to the fact that, the late Prof Mills’ third shot at the presidency was against an incumbent party and not an incumbent President.
In 2008, the late John Mills won power for the NDC when he contested the NPP which was then the ruling party seeking third term but, had a new flag bearer, Nana Addo, who was contesting for the presidency for the first time.
The late tax professor who was also Jerry Rawlings’ vice president, after losing the 2000 elections to Mr. Kufuor with Martin Alamisi Amidu as his running mate, replaced Amidu with Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni for the 2004 elections, but again lost.
The case of Nana Akufo-Addo shares semblance with Nigeria’s President, General Buhari who defeated an incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan. ‘Youthful’ ex-President Goodluck, seeking a second term on the ticket of a political tradition which had been in power since the return to multi-party democracy in Nigeria in1999, lost to 72 year old General Buhari on his [Buhari’s] fourth attempt at the presidency.
It must however, be emphasized that Gen Buhari had to abandon the platform on which he fought his last two unsuccessful political battles to lead a coalition of political parties under the umbrella of All Progressive Congress [APC] before he eventually succeeded.
Another difference between Mills and Nana Addo is that, in the case of the late president Mills’ attempt at the presidency in the 2008 elections, he yet again, nominated a new running mate, the then MP for Bole-Bamboi, John Dramani Mahama, and together, they succeeded in defeating NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo and his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.
Nana Akufo-Addo has however, since 2008 maintained Dr Bawumia against protestations from many leading members of the elephant family including the respected anti-graft campaigner and former NPP MP for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, Hon. P.C. Appiah Ofori.
Ironically, while Nana Akufo-Addo and his ilk have made countless references to “third time lucky” presidential candidates, what they may have not told Ghanaians is that none of the third-time-lucky presidents went into each election with divided front.
In this year’s election, Nana Akufo-Addo will be facing an incumbent president seeking re-election and a ruling party seeking a record third-term. The irony, however, is that Ghana’s constitution allows ruling parties to remain in power as many years they can but debars incumbent presidents from seeking a third-term.
Wind of Change
Many in the NPP and among its media surrogates are arguing that the euphoria for change which swept through the country ahead of the 2000 elections that brought Mr. John Kufuor and the NPP to power is currently here with us.
However, it is trite knowledge that, Mr. Kufuor won the 2000 elections with support from a very strong opposition coalition. Virtually all the opposition parties in the country joined forces with the NPP and Mr. Kufuor to kick the NDC out of power.
Unfortunately for Nana Akufo-Addo, aside the unending divisions in his own party, majority of the opposition parties presently are not in support of his bid perhaps, due to his belligerent posturing. The NPP flag bearer, party insiders say, “is confident of winning the elections without the support of the “smaller” parties”.
Acting national chairman of the NPP, Mr Freddy Blay in support of this notion has been predicting a 60% win for Akufo Addo.
He declared that with oneness of purpose and a united front, the party will win at least 60 percent of the valid votes in the December 2016 general elections.
According to him, the party is not looking at winning this year's election with just 53 percent of the total votes, as predicted by a chief in the north, but rather a landslide victory that will not only overwhelm the ruling government, but will make it exceedingly difficult for any party to reject the verdict of the people.
But, political pundits say the political climate in Ghana today and Akufo-Addo’s own conduct, behavior and approach towards his ambition show that it is utterly at variance with the personalities of the late Prof Mills, Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, Lula da Silva of Brazil, General Buhari of Nigeria and even former President Kufuor, among others who were either 2nd, 3rd or 4th time lucky.
Unlike Akufo-Addo’s uncompromising, pugnacious, divisive and scary character, these statesmen, Mills, Gen Buhari, Wade, da Silva, Kufuor and others were humble, God fearing and also, identified with the people regardless of their social status, ethnic, religious and political persuasion.
NPP insiders say Nana Akufo-Addo’s hotheadedness and unforgiving spirit is the cause of heightened tension in the party. Party members who hold this view point to how Akufo Addo, through his backers, humiliated Mr. Paul Afoko at the 2007 Legon Congress of the party for allegedly sharing monies to delegates in support of Mr. Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanten, then NPP flag bearer aspirant.
According to the insiders, Nana Akufo-Addo has since had this incident ingrained in his mind. This, according to them, was manifested in his attempt to thwart Afoko’s efforts of becoming NPP National Chairman. The NPP flag bearer is alleged to have exerted his influence in the National Council of the party to suspend Mr. Afoko and others after woefully failing to plot their defeats at the Tamale congress.
Tribalism & Ethnocentrism
Since taking over the leadership of the party in 2007, Nana Akufo-Addo has consistently blighted and diluted the fortunes of the NPP at the polls. Former President Kufuor bequeathed him with six regions; Ashanti, Central, Western, Eastern, Brong Ahafo and Greater Accra regions, but this has since been reduced to two, Ashanti and Eastern.
Even in the Ashanti and Eastern regions where Nana Akufo-Addo enjoys popular support, the ruling party is now making inroads. Among factors for the decline in support for the elephant party outside non-Akan regions, research reveals, are Nana Akufo-Addo’s ethnocentric belief and combative posturing.
His “Yen Akanfuo”, “all-die-be-die” and other reprehensible pronouncements and ethnocentric comments by his loyalists like Mr. Yaw Osafo Marfo, Kennedy Agyapong, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful and others have all pitched him against non-Akans.
Unfortunately for Nana Akufo-Addo, he does not enjoy absolute support in his native Eastern region compare to the support John Mahama derives from the three Northern regions. This is principally because almost half of the population of the Eastern region is non-Akans.
In the NPP’s stronghold, Ashanti, however, Nana Akufo-Addo lost marginal votes to the NDC in the last two elections over what some have attributed to the Asante-Akyem rivalry. Some say the age-long rivalry was rekindled by Nana Akufo-Addo’s demeaning treatments of former President Kufuor, Kwadwo Mpiani, Kwabena Agyapong, Richard Anane and other notable Ashanti NPP stalwarts.
His loyalists’ constant attempts to undermine the King of the Ashanti Kingdom, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II have also not helped Nana Akufo-Addo. One of the most unconscionable accusations from Nana Akufo-Addo’s loyalists, which have irked many Ashantis, was allegations that the Ashanti King aided President Mahama to bribe Justices of the Supreme Court to rule in favour of President Mahama in the novel election petition.
The negative perceptions about Nana Addo, most strongly held by non-Akans, have grown stronger since 2008 when he first contested the presidential elections.
Strange as this may sound, some close associates and “boyhood” friends of Nana Akufo-Addo who ordinarily should have been the ones fanning his presidential campaign seem to be deserting him.
Some of them even did the unthinkable by admonishing Ghanaians not to entrust the destiny of the country into his hands.
Notably among these persons include the owner and Publisher of the Chronicle newspaper, Nana Kofi Koomson. Mr. Koomson, in the run-up to the 2008 general elections, warned he won’t be comfortable in the unlikely event his friend, Nana Addo is voted as President of Ghana because, “it is not safe” for a great country like Ghana. “I cannot sleep; I cannot sleep with Akufo-Addo as President,” he noted.
Mr Koomson’s verdict on Nana Akufo-Addo was later to be confirmed by leaked diplomatic cable; “Wikileaks”, which revealed that the twice- defeated NPP Presidential candidate has “poor organizational skills and often comes across as arrogant, which may not play well with many party activists and Ghanaian voters”
“Nana Akufo-Addo’s reputation as a womanizer and occasional marijuana smoker may also damage him politically but a formidable contender for the NPP slot,” the cable added.
Two of the NPP flag bearer’s long-standing friends; Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jr and Dr. Kwesi Aning were also quoted in the Wikileaks report to have made startling revelations about Nana Akufo-Addo’s life.
What also came as a surprise to many was when one of Akufo Addo’s present trusted lieutenants and former Mayor of Kumasi who was also a former deputy Local Government Minister, Mr. Maxwell Kofi Jumah, sounded a note of caution, that, his boss (Nana Addo) would be a terrible president if given the opportunity to lead the country.
“I am telling you NPP, I am telling you, if you vote for Akufo Addo, he would be a terrible president, terrible president. His presidency would not last for even three weeks,” Kofi Ghana, as he is affectionately known, forcefully stressed in a leaked audio recording.
Failed flag bearer aspirants of the NPP, Alan Kyeremanten, who is currently on the campaign trail with NPP flag bearer, also, in a meeting with the New York chapter of the party in 2014, told them Nana Akufo-Addo will taste another defeat in this year’s election.
“I want to be very upfront…I think that we have our own senior brother, Nana Akufo Addo. He’s represented the party very well on two previous occasions. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it’s not been possible for us to get into power. I think that we must explore other opportunities and that is why I will be putting myself up as a candidate when the nominations open and I am here to seek your support,” Kyeremanten stated.
Respected statesman and Chief Executive of Antrak Air, Alhaji Dr Asuma Banda recently downplayed Nana Akufo-Addo’s chances of winning any Presidential elections including the 2016 election. In an interview with Accra based television station, TV3, the former chancellor of University of Education Winneba, said, Nana Akufo-Addo can “never be President of Ghana”
“The truth is he [Nana Akufo-Addo] can never be president… You see, to be a President, you must have certain structure, intelligence,” Alhaji Asuma Banda added.
On his part, Prophet Badu Kobi, Founder and Leader of the Glorious Wave International church said though the 2016 election is for the presidential candidate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to win, it will elude him if he fails to purge himself.
According to the revered Man of God ''The election is for Nana Addo but for him to win is the problem. I have said this before, and I will say it again. Ghanaians don't understand me, but it is the truth. Nana Addo needs to purge himself before he can win the elections.''
A Kumasi-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Mallam Musa, had also revealed that “Nana Addo is not spiritually bestowed to lead this nation”. He said this ahead of the 2012 elections and it came to pass. The Mallam prophesized that “unfortunately for the NPP, they selected Akufo Addo, who has no spiritual backing over Alan, if they had selected Alan Kyeremanten or even someone like Kennedy Agyepong, they would have defeated the NDC.”
‘Prophet’ John Kufuor?
Nana Akufo-Addo and his henchmen’s disdainful treatment of former President Kufuor since he took over the party in 2007 may be on purpose. Long before Mr Kufuor became president, Akufo Addo has had running battles with him [Kufuor] over who qualifies to lead the elephant party.
Ahead of the NPP congress in Sunyani in 1998 Nana Akufo-Addo, his acolytes, including his then Campaign Manager, Brigadier General (rtd) Joseph Nunoo Mensah ‘mocked’ Mr Kufuor for losing the 1996 elections and therefore underserving of another opportunity to lead the NPP into the 2000 elections.
Again, in the heat of the campaign to elect Mr Kufuor’s successor for the 2008, Nana Akufo Addo instigated attacks on the man who appointed him Minister of Justice and Attorney General and later Foreign Affairs Minister. Mr Kufuor was accused of supporting Nana Akufo-Addo’s main opponent, Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanten.
Indeed, after his defeat in 2008, Nana Akufo-Addo’s spokesperson, Mustapha Hamid, wrote a lengthy article titled “It is a question of judgment” in which he accused former President Kufuor of taking ill-conceived decisions while in office to hurt his boss’ chances of ascending to the presidency.
But even before that and prior to the Legon congress of the party, which the former Abuakwa South legislator emerged winner, ex-President Kufuor in a meeting with NPP kingpins in Kumasi warned that the NPP risk losing the 2008 elections if they elect a violent and divisive candidate among the 16 flag bearer aspirants, who would not be adored by “all” Ghanaians.
“…So among the candidates or aspirants coming, listen to everybody, please it is not the money they will bring around, if they call you and give you ten million and you think because of that you’re going…and when you want to catch a chicken, what do you do? You give it a corn but then that corn might lead to its death so it is not about the money, listen, ask questions, see how their minds work, look at their nature and see whether the party, he will lead us all together like one family and then after the party, then the nation…the majority of the nation will accept this person for leader,” Mr Kufuor noted.
Despite this admonition, the NPP delegates went ahead and elected Nana Akufo-Addo as the party’s 2008 presidential candidate. True to Mr Kufuor’s prediction, Nana Akufo Addo lost that year’s election and has since succeeded in dividing the party and making it unattractive to the floating voters.
Perhaps, irked by the developments in the party, founding member of the NPP, Dr Nyaho Tamkloe was once reported to have said, unlike ex-president Kufuor, the twice-defeated NPP flag bearer (Nana) does not know how to win political power.
“By now, he should know certain things that will bring you to power. I keep on referring to Kufour [Ex-President]…Kufour knows how to get power. I have been with Kufour for years. Kufour can lie down on the floor for you to walk over him…just for power. Through that he [Ex-Prez Kufour] annexed power. If you find it difficult to get to come down to the level of the ordinary person…then who is going to give you his or her vote? “Nana Addo knows very well that you cannot win political power with a divided front. If anybody cannot tell him [Nana Addo] I can tell him. If people are afraid of him Nana Addo, I am not afraid of him,” the audacious former ambassador to Serbia noted.
Nana’s Third Attempt
Days after losing the election petition on August 29, 2013, Nana Akufo-Addo left the shores of Ghana to the Queen’s land [United Kingdom] in what he said was to afford him the opportunity to “seek the face of God” on what was next for his political life.
While cooling off in UK, speculations were rife that the twice-defeated presidential candidate will stage a come-back to contest the flag-bearership race of his party.
A confidant of Nana Addo, Kwadjo Owusu Afriyie aka Sir John, then General Secretary of the NPP, vowed that the Nima-based astute politician will contest the presidency even if in a wheelchair. His statement was in contrast to rumors that Akufo Addo was planning to turn down requests to contest the NPP flag bearer post for the third-time due to his advanced age, and on grounds of supposed ill-health.
“Nana Addo will lead NPP even if he is in a wheelchair…the argument about age does not wash; how old is President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, how old is Shimon Perez of Israel, I mean those talking about age have no basis, make no mistake, Nana will lead NPP even if he is in a wheelchair,” Sir John noted.
Months after speculations on whether he will contest or not, Nana Addo returned to Ghana, and in March 2014 declared his intension to lead the party for the third-time into the 2016 elections. “I feel physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and patriotically strong enough to remain in frontline politics,” he stated.
Nana Akufo-Addo’s unwavering conviction and desire to become President of Ghana after more than 40 years of political activism responded to critics and opponents who had called for his resignation from politics in his typical firm tone: “I have asked the hard questions about my body, not my age.”
According to the twice-defeated presidential candidate, fortunately, he had chosen two careers which did not have a retiring age; law and politics. "I'm humbled by the confidence reposed in me and I am profoundly grateful that so many people want me to run even at the young age of 70," he noted.
Nana’s Incorruptibility Claim- Farce Or A Hoax?
While many in the NPP tout Nana Akufo-Addo as incorruptible, media reports on the NPP flag bearer’s involvement in some allegations of shady deals controvert this claim.
Reports of Nana Akufo-Addo receiving a 4x4 Landcruiser vehicle as gift from a Northern born contractor who it was alleged benefitted from lots of contracts under the NPP government remains unanswered. According to one report, while the vehicle in question was a donation to the NPP as a party, Nana Akufo-Addo allegedly appropriated it by having it registered in his name.
He was also alleged to have taken delivery of two luxurious vehicles from two Ghanaian oil magnates, bringing to three the number of V8 vehicles gifted to him [Nana] for his campaign. Nana Akufo-Addo was also alleged to have taken delivery of a 4x4 vehicle and other goodies from a Chief Executive of a state institution on behalf of his wife, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo. But for fear of the media blowing his cover, the NPP flag bearer, according to the report, has since returned the vehicle and goodies to the CEO of the state organization.
Surprisingly, neither Nana Akufo-Addo nor any of his aficionados have confirmed or denied these reports. The NPP flag bearer is also yet to come clean on his alleged involvement in the misappropriation of party funds diverted into a secret ECOBANK account.
While others are questioning his claim of incorruptibility, Nana Akufo-Addo has instead been accusing President Mahama of compromising his office in the alleged Ford Expedition gift claim.
In a subtle reference to President John Mahama receiving a Ford gift from a Burkinabe contractor, Nana Akufo-Addo told a rally at Hamile in the Lambussie constituency in the Upper West region that, gifts will not determine who gets contracts if he comes to power.
“We are going to find the contractor by a process of competitive bidding. We are not going to go into a room and sit down with one person and say yes (you have the contract). I have no interest in Cadillacs or Fords or whatever. We want to do a job for Ghana, a good job for that matter,” he stated.
Meanwhile, and under his aegis, NPP MPs in parliament are pushing for the impeachment of the President for accepting the gift. Their motion calling for parliamentary probe into the Ford Expedition gift to the president was shot down by Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho.
The Speaker rightly explained that the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), a constitutional body, was already investigating the case. “After a careful study of the correspondence from CHRAJ, I have come to the conclusion that the matter is not different in material, in particular from the matter under investigation by CHRAJ,” Adjaho noted.
What If Akufo-Addo
Isn’t a Candidate?
There have been propositions indicating that even as the NPP flag bearer is busily campaigning ahead of the elections, he is only paving the way for “another person” to officially file as the party’s candidate for the December 7 elections when the EC finally opens nomination later this year.
Those who hold this view are quick to point to the flag bearer’s advanced age with its associated health challenges as possible reasons why Nana Akufo-Addo could possibly not feature on the 2016 presidential ballot paper. The question therefore is who will step in Nana Akufo-Addo’s shoes in the event he decides to hang his political gloves? Also, how would the NDC react since its campaign has since focus on Akufo Addo?
Though, Nana Akufo-Addo has persistently and vehemently rubbished reports about his ill-health, the Africawatch magazine in its latest edition reported that “ it is clear that Akufo-Addo, who has twice narrowly failed to clinch the Ghanaian presidency in 2008 and 2012, is not telling the whole truth about his health status – because he is actually suffering from three deadly diseases that could impair his ability to effectively campaign this political season and, if given the chance to rule, weaken him and his presidency, with serious implications for the nation.”
According the wide circulating magazine; “Africawatch can now confirm that Akufo-Addo has prostate cancer and he has undergone external beam radiotherapy at the Wellington Hospital in London. A CT scan taken of his pelvic area on June 13, 2013 showed what his British doctors referred to as “several worrisome right-sided pelvic nodes, one lying just medial to the right obturator internus at the level of the vesicles and measuring 7 x 6 mm and having an abnormally rounded appearance”.
But, a personal physician of the New Patriotic Party flag bearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, has dismissed claims by the US based Africawatch Magazine that his client is sick with acute cancer and kidney problems.
According to Prof Adu Gyamfi, the claims in the magazine can only be a fabrication and a figment of someone's imagination. He told Joy FM's Newsfile program that, "Nana is very safe. He is campaigning. Anybody seriously sick as the paper claims will not be able to stand up, let alone undertake this rigorous campaign."
Ahead of Nana Akufo-Addo’s declaration to contest the presidential election for the third time, there were suggestions his twice failed running mate; Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia was lacing his boots to contest the party’s flag bearer slot in the event his boss pulled out.
The former deputy Governor of the Central Bank’s posters later adorned some parts of Accra, but his spokesperson, Anthony Karbo denied his boss was interested in joining the flag bearer race. Mr. Karbo blamed the ruling NDC for being behind the posters to create disaffection for Dr. Bawumia.
When Nana Akufo-Addo subsequently made his intention known to lead the party for the third time, NPP insiders divulged to the media how he planned to retain the leadership slot of the party only to later relinquish it to his protégé, Dr. Bawumia.
There were others who also said Nana Akufo-Addo intended to lead the party to victory and later resign, citing health reasons in order to step aside for his protégé, Dr. Bawumia to take over as president. This, they alleged, was carefully crafted to maintain Nana Akufo-Addo’s firm grip on the party and influence on a Bawumia-led NPP government as the battle for supremacy of the NPP rages on with the Kufuor faction on the other side.
Minority leader and MP for Suame, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu at the first NASARA conference in 2014 signaled the NPP’s readiness to install Dr. Bawumia as flag bearer. He was however, short of giving details when the party intends to carry out this ‘mission’.
“With today’s meeting here, the victory of the party in 2016 has started. We have begun today, the party’s impending victory at the polls in 2016. The two main religions in the country give us a good foundation to begin this effort in very solid fashion.” Kyei Mensah Bonsu stated.
In an apparent reference to Dr Bawumia’s imminent elevation to the post of NPP flag bearer, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu told the gathering that, the NPP had given consideration to the presence of the country’s two foremost religions, Islam and Christianity.
For that reason, he said, the NPP had been consistent since 1992 – except for 1996, when the NPP formed an alliance with the People’s Convention Party – in partnering a Christian flagbearer with a Muslim running mate.
He was confident that in the near future, the NPP will be the first political party to present a Muslim as presidential candidate, during which time; he will expect that a Christian will be named as running mate.
The then General Secretary of the party, Sir John, was also reported in the media to have endorsed Dr Bawumia as automatic successor to Nana Akufo-Addo. The twice-failed running mate was emboldened by these pronouncements as he later upped his political ante and was reported impressing on some senior members of the party of Northern descent to prevail on Nana Akufo-Addo to fulfill his pledge; relinquishing the flag bearer post to him.
This was said to have irked Nana Akufo-Addo and his men who, according to reports, scolded the astute economist for “peaking before time”. It is however, not clear if this “secret’ arrangement is still being considered.
Though the NPP has launched its campaign team headed by Mr. Peter Mac Manu, under whose leadership as National Chairman the party was booted out of government, Dr Bawumia has taken over the campaign.
He is the face around which the party’s campaign revolves. Mr Alan Kyeremanten has also joined Dr Bawumia to ‘push’ the party’s agenda for change.
There are rumors that if Nana Akufo-Addo decides to call off his presidential dream or wins and eventually steps down, he is likely to impress on the party to float a Bawumia/Alan Kyeremanten ticket.
If this happens, the ruling party will be caught off guard and all their strategies targeted at Nana Akufo-Addo would be thrown off gear. The NDC, in this case, will be hard press for time to map out new strategies to deal with a new flag bearer and running mate put up by opposition party.
“Try Me Too”
There are some who say Nana Akufo-Addo may just not be interested in trading his presidential ambition for “anything” and thus, will not allow Dr Bawumia or any other person to assume his post for this year’s election.
His campaign message so far has been about how he has been engrossed in political activism from time immemorial and needs to be tried this time round. Addressing Muslim clerics and Chiefs of settler communities in Derma, a community in the Tano South Constituency in February this year, Nana Akuf-Addo said:
“This year, try me too. Give me the chance to show you what I can do. Four years is not so far away. If I come and I don’t succeed, kick me out. God knows my heart and I can assure you that I won’t disappoint you. Progress and prosperity are what I am offering the people of Ghana.”
In a direct riposte to Nana Addo’s plea, Director of Elections of the NDC, Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo said governance should not be equated to “palm wine” for Ghanaians to try persons who have no experience in qualitative leadership.
“Let us not make a mistake to vote for someone who has no experience governance. This election should be fought on track records and nothing else. Governance is not palm wine to be tried,” he stated at the party’s Cape Coast Campaign launch.
President Mahama also did not spare his main political opponent on his “try me too” mantra, “...It is a very dangerous experiment, Ghana is not at the stage where we are experimenting leadership and so you can’t come and beg that we should try you,” John Mahama told a crowd at Bimbilla.
“We are not in the era of experiments and trials, we are in the era of what is sure, we have seen this government, one of the major success of this government is peace and stability,” Mr. Mahama on his tour of Bimbilla in the Northern region recently.
Characteristic of all campaigns, the NPP 2016 presidential candidate has not lost any least opportunity on his campaign trail to making fanciful promises. Particularly, with his 2012 flag ship mantra, “Free SHS” being comprehensively implemented by the Mahama administration, Nana Akufo Addo is now packaging more ambitious promises to hoodwink electorates.
During his tour of the Western region, the NPP flag bearer assured the chiefs and people that he will create a new region when given the mandate in the upcoming election. Creation of a “Western-North” region, according him, was long overdue, considering the fact that “a significant proportion of Ghana’s natural resources, such as gold and cocoa, as well as food stuffs” can be found in that part of the country.
“It is, thus, about time the ‘Western-North’ became its own separate, independent region. We are going to do that in Nana Akufo-Addo’s government. The Constitution (Article 5) has created ways by which this can happen, and we will go through the prescribed methods towards achieving this,” he said.
Prior to this, the opposition leader announced the establishment of Industrial Zones in the Ketu North and Ketu South districts, during his tour of the Volta region in May this year. The Central region was not left out of the 2016 NPP flag bearer’s promises.
To the amusement of party folks in the Central region, Nana Addo intimated that as part of plans to industrialize and transform the Ghanaian economy, his government will help establish a factory in each of the 216 districts across the country.
Even as the debate on the feasibility of his “one district-one factory” was on-going, Nana Addo yet again, dropped another promise, this time; to set up irrigation dams in every village in the northern part of Ghana should he win the 7 December polls.
Speaking to the Bolgatanga Traditional Council in the Upper East Region on his plans for Ghana’s agriculture in a future Akufo-Addo government, the three-time flag bearer of the main opposition said, “as far as this part of our world is concerned, I want to go further and talk about one-village one-dam.”
Akufo Addo’s running mate, Dr Bawumia, as part of their tour of the Northern regions, also announced a one million dollar package for each constituency under its poverty eradication policy.
But, policy think tank, IMANI Ghana has described it as among vague promises being made by political parties contesting this year’s election.
Speaking at an event to launch a special report on analysis of campaign promises made by the various political parties in Accra, Hubert Nii-Aponsah, Deputy Head at IMANI in charge of Political and Economic Affairs said:
“Under social policy, [the NPP made] 3 promises, [which has one] one semi-quantifiable. This is one of the vague ones we found and there are several of them. They promised to revive collapsed NHIS. Again we need some clarifications. In what ways has the NPP found the NHIS to have collapsed? What have you seen what have you identified? What do you mean by the revival, in terms of the specific steps that you want to take to ensure that you resurrect it from the dead, so to say?”
All Must Account
The NPP flag bearer’s vow to prosecute officials of the NDC government over allegation of corruption when he is elected president is not in doubt.
As part of his plans to fight corruption, Nana Akufo-Addo is said to have confided in close associates that he will investigate the administrations of former Presidents Jerry Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor.
According to sources close to the NPP flag bearer, not even former President Kufuor, who made him Minister in his government, and on whose records he is campaigning to be elected president would be spared of his intended “forensic” probe.
Letting out his intention, Nana Akufo-Addo recently told a cross-section of Ghanaians in the United Kingdom that he will create an office for a Special Prosecutor to prosecute corrupt government officials when elected into office.
Acting General Secretary and National Organizer of the NPP, John Boadu, also made comments recently to indicate how an Akufo-Addo government will deal swiftly and severely with past government officials believed to have engaged in corruption.
Commenting on a donation made by former Transport Minister, Madam Dzifa Ativor, to the ‘Montie Fm’ contemnors at the Nsawam Prison, John Boadu said the former Minister presented a lot of toilet rolls to the contemnors for her future use.
“The toilet rolls donated by Attivor to the Montie 3 will last more than four months and I believe that they will leave some behind for her…“Those who are afraid of the change are the officials who have misappropriate public funds and afraid of punishment,” he stated.
Sources close to Nana Akufo-Addo disclosed that he [Nana] is unwavering in carrying out his “house cleaning” exercise to prove his incorruptibility and also, to demonstrate his absolute commitment to the fight against corruption.
Perhaps, having gotten wind of the NPP presidential Candidate’s plan, founder of the ruling NDC, Mr. Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang, have been punching officials of NDC government to the admiration of Akufo-Addo and his minders.
The former first couples are said to be engaged in this dire schemes in order to warm their way into the heart of their once fierce political archrival so as to tie the hands of the latter not to go after them in the event he succeeds at his third and possibly, last attempt at the presidency.
The outcomes of the 2000 and 2008 elections have shown that no opposition party has ever won election over ruling parties in the first round. In 2000, candidate John Kufuor had to rally other smaller parties to go past the then candidate John Mills of the then governing NDC in the second round of voting.
Addressing some Ghanaian youth at his resident last week, Mr Kufuor described his victory in the 2000 general elections as the outcome of perseverance, persistency and God's grace.
Expanding further on the “grace of God” in his personal life, Mr. Kufuor referred to the proverbial ‘God helps those who help themselves’ to demonstrate the relevance of personal efforts. “Grace should be there but it is the same God that endowed us with knowledge [therefore] if God has given you the wherewithal you will also do what is right to get where you want,” he said.
Some say the ex-president’s statement was intended to prod Nana Akufo-Addo that his own efforts and how he rallies members of the NPP in support of his presidential bid will determine if he would go-pass Mr Mahama at the polls this year.
Having perhaps learnt from his past mistakes and now ready to take a cue from Kufuor’s wise counsel, the NPP flag bearer, days after the ex-president’s admonition, met leadership of his party and parliamentary candidates in the Ashanti region in a bid to foster unity and to strategies ahead of the elections.
“There should be the need for cooperation within the party. Choosing who to cooperate with won’t help us win the December elections; whether any executive supported you or not, you are expected to cooperate with them. Whatever issue you have, drop it and help us to win power. There is no programme that is being unveiled by Mahama for the future of our country. This man [President Mahama] has been a disaster for this country and we hope to get the mandate on December 7.”
“The polls going on in Ashanti Region are encouraging; but we all know that if we hit 80% of the popular votes in Ashanti, we have one and a half feet in the door of Jubilee House. So I’m begging you, let us make this year 2016 the year of the elephant,” Nana Addo noted.
While Nana Akufo-Addo wants to present himself as a ‘refined’ person ahead of this year’s election; like the proverbial Leopard, he cannot change from his “all-die-be-die” ways. Signaling he still believes in his usual adversarial politics, the NPP flag bearer gleefully told members of his party that “the only politics that you will do and have no issue [with] is in heaven and not on this earth.”
In the 2008 elections, the late John Mills had to painfully wait for a ‘third’ round of voting in the famous Tain constituency in the Brong Ahafo region to triumph over NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo.
But, if the trend that opposition parties seeking to reclaim power succeeds only at the second round should repeat itself this year, then Nana Akufo-Addo would have to shelve his dream of beating Mr Mahama and his NDC on December 7. He will need ‘extra energy’ and additional resources to endure a second round of voting to be able to beat president Mahama.
This is because both the NPP and NDC captured/recaptured power in 2000 and 2008 respectively, after many years in opposition, but with a united front. The current state of affairs in the NPP under Nana Akufo-Addo’s leadership does not depict what happened in 2000 and 2008.
The then candidates, John Kufuor and John Mills virtually had the support and endorsements of all who matter in the NPP and the NDC which made it possible for them to emerge victorious to become president.
But the present happenings in the NPP ahead of the elections in December show that, Nana Akufo-Addo is not enjoying the support of some stalwarts of his party. Indeed, like the case of Donald Trump in US, many leading members of the party would prefer Akufo Addo loses the 2016 election for the third-time so that the party can reorganize for elections in 2020. There are some who have posited that the likes of Paul Afoko, Sammy Crabbe, Kwabena Agyapong, Dr Arthur Kennedy, Kwadwo Mpiani, Dr Wereko Brobbey would be comfortable under a John Mahama government than a government headed by Nana Akufo-Addo.
And with less than 100 days to the election, there are no signs of the NPP flag bearer is working to bring on board his perceived internal nemeses. His hirelings have been boasting of how the NPP can win this year’s election without the support of the supposed anti-Akufo Addo elements.
Whether Nana Akufo-Addo contest or not, the NPP would pay political price for not working to mend their internal cracks. Nana Akufo-Addo’s ‘mission’ to snatch the keys of the Flag Staff House from Mr. Mahama would partly be dependent on how united the party is.
NDC Arrogance & Complacency
Surprisingly, while the NPP is fraught with problems threatening its cohesion ahead of the elections, the ruling NDC is also battling with its own problems. Reports of some kingpins and supporters brooding over neglect cannot be swept under the carpet.
Some political pundits have observed that what is happening in the ruling party is not too different from the NPP’s troubles. But for the fact that, the party is in government, the conflicts in the NDC would have surpassed what is happening in the biggest opposition party.
These dangerous happenings, against the backdrop of unmatched infrastructure developments by the Mahama government, are not too different from what caused the defeat of NPP in 2008 elections and the “downfall” of Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s government in Nigeria.
They (pundits), all agree that the NPP and PDP did not lose the 2008 and 2015 elections respectively because of non-performance. Indeed, both the Ghana’s NPP and the Nigeria’s PDP before exiting power posted impressive infrastructural developments.
The two political parties painfully exited power principally due to intra-party bickering among bigwigs which later cascaded to the grassroots.
While the NPP could not manage their differences resulting from 2007 fierce flag bearer contest between 16 party stalwarts, the PDP on the other hand had to disintegrate due to Goodluck Jonathan’s intransigence; not to consent to the party’s regional rotational convention to step aside.
With barely three months to election, regional executives of NDC in its “World Bank”; Volta region, are at war with each other over composition of the region’s campaign team. Ahead of inauguration of the regional campaign taskforce, eleven executives from the region issued a statement to wash their hands off the program.
They accused the regional chairman and secretary of the region of sidelining other executives in meetings leading to the composition of the regional campaign taskforce. This, they alleged, was done to create opportunity for the duo to misappropriate campaign resources. There are reports that other regions and constituencies are also battling with similar challenges.
This needless infighting among party executives and growing attrition and despondency among supporters is rife in many constituencies.
Agitations flowing from unresolved cases during the party’s primaries to elect parliamentary candidates are contributing to worsening state of affairs in the governing party ahead of the December elections.
Even as these “regrettable” circumstances of opposition-bound happenings are noticeable within the NDC administration just as it happened to the NPP government under Kufuor, most bigwigs and functionaries of the NDC have shrugged off any possibility of losing power to Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP.
But, pundits have warned, the NDC may be in for a shocker if the party does not take immediate steps to nib these opposition-bound goings-on in the bud.
The Mahama administration has also compounded its woes by taking certain ‘unpopular’ decisions which only resonate with party supporters. Recent among these decisions was the presidential pardon granted the ‘Montie 3’ contemnors against the all ‘wise counseling’ including one from the President own private lawyer, Mr Tony Lithur.
Analysts say while the NPP may not be united as expected to beat the NDC, what is happening in the ruling party could play to the advantage of the opposition party. They however say, the NPP flag bearer’s advanced age and health difficulties, as revealed by Africawatch Magazine, may be a stumbling block in the elephant party’s way, but the party may pull a surprise in the December elections.
Read the Full Africawatch report below
For some time now, functionaries of Ghana’s main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and their presidential candidate himself, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, have strenuously denied reports in the local media of Akufo-Addo’s ill health and its implications on his ability to rule the country.
In one such denial recently, the 72-year-old NPP presidential candidate said: “God is the one who looks after us all and not the wishes of human beings. I am strong.
"As you see me now, do I look anything close to a sick person? The NDC [Ghana’s ruling party] is claiming that I am a very old man who is unable to walk. I am fit and full of strength to campaign, and, if God so wishes, govern this nation in a proper manner.”
But from the evidence uncovered by Africawatch, it is clear that Akufo-Addo, who has twice narrowly failed to clinch the Ghanaian presidency in 2008 and 2012, is not telling the whole truth about his health status – because he is actually suffering from three deadly diseases that could impair his ability to effectively campaign this political season and, if given the chance to rule, weaken him and his presidency, with serious implications for the nation.
Africawatch can now confirm that Akufo-Addo has prostate cancer and he has undergone external beam radiotherapy at the Wellington Hospital in London. A CT scan taken of his pelvic area on June 13, 2013 showed what his British doctors referred to as “several worrisome right-sided pelvic nodes, one lying just medial to the right obturator internus at the level of the vesicles and measuring 7 x 6 mm and having an abnormally rounded appearance”.
The medical records of the NPP flagbearer in the possession of Africawatch show that Akufo-Addo was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2013 with an abnormally high Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) count of 89.9 when, according to his British doctors, his normal “upper limit” of PSA should have been 3.72, a whole 86.18 points in the danger zone.
His exceptionally high PSA count is baffling even to his very experienced personal doctors in the UK.
The PSA count is a marker that determines the level of risk that prostate cancer poses to a patient. PSA levels that are considered normal for men are in the range of 4 to 9 nanograms per millimeter (ng/mL) in the blood. Anything over these numbers indicates a possibility of prostate cancer. In fact one medical authority states that “the higher a man’s PSA level, the more likely it is that cancer is present.”
Internationally, many doctors are now using the following PSA ranges as determinants of possible risk to prostate cancer: 0 to 2.5 ng/mL the risk is low. 2.6 to 10 ng/mL the risk is slightly to moderately elevated. 10 to 19.9 ng/mL the risk is moderately elevated. 20 ng/mL or more the risk is significantly elevated.
Remarkably, from several tests done on Akufo-Addo at the Wellington Hospital, the NPP presidential candidate’s PSA readings have consistently been around 89.9 or 89.8, which are peculiarly high and are very clear indications of a serious prostate cancer. In fact, the NPP flagbearer’s medical records from the Wellington Hospital make grim reading. They show that among other age-related illnesses, Akufo-Addo suffers from acute kidney injury and enlarged heart problems.
A chest X-ray taken on January 14, 2014 showed him to have acute kidney injury, which kidney experts say is a serious condition that can leave sufferers in considerable pain.
And an examination on January 29, 2014 indicated that the NPP presidential candidate’s “heart is enlarged and there is quite marked coronary artery calcification. There is unfolding of the aorta.”
Africawatch spoke to some cardio experts and they explained that the coronary artery is a crucial vessel carrying blood to the heart, and its calcification could mean that there was some blockage restricting easy blood flow to Akufo-Addo’s heart.
Other findings after the battery of tests conducted on Akufo-Addo by doctors at the Wellington Hospital include age-related changes in his skeleton, especially in his knees, hips and shoulders. He was also found to have dental disease and “maxillary sinus activity presumed to relate to inflammatory mucosal changes.” This could perhaps explain the embarrassing and uncontrolled flow of mucus from Akufo-Addo’s nostrils at a public event at the University of Ghana early this year, a video of which went viral on social media in the country.
Health is a big deal
Incidentally, the health of political leaders is almost a taboo subject in many African countries, including Ghana where an obviously unwell President John Atta Mills passed away in July 2012, six months before he was due to contest in another presidential election. His death was a moment of great sadness for the people of Ghana with many attesting to his gentle demeanor.
Many held the view that had issues surrounding President Mills’ health been properly managed and his obvious ailment not repeatedly denied by himself and his ruling party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Ghanaians would have been better prepared to receive the news of his death when it eventually came on that cloudy Tuesday of July 24, 2012.
As fate would have it, members of the opposition NPP were fierce in their criticisms of Mills and his handlers regarding his health. They opined that Mills’ true health status was kept secret in order to prevent calls for him to step aside as president.
According to the NPP, Mills’ ill health seriously affected his ability to govern the country properly. Before he died, there were even open calls for him to make his medical records public.
No wonder that one month after Mills’ death, the NPP communications director, Nana Akomea, stated in a radio program in August 2012 that “President Mills’ health was handled in a manner that did not show candor, transparency, and integrity in governance.” He accused the NDC of having gone to “absurd lengths to perpetuate falsehood and lies on Ghanaians” regarding Mills’ health.
Uncannily, prior to Mills death, rumors had been circulating for months, especially on social media, about his ill health. Claims that he had died were regular in the Ghanaian media – the most notable being the one that made the rounds on June 16, 2012, on both the social and traditional media that reported the president had died.
However, the rumors were put to rest when Mills appeared at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra to announce that he was in fact going to the USA for a “routine” check-up.
A day after his departure, his then political rival, Akufo-Addo, issued a statement saying he had “learnt last night from President Atta Mills that he was on his way to the United States to see doctors for medical treatment.” Akufo-Addo wished Mills well, saying he hoped “the checks go well and he comes back fit and strong” to continue his duties as president.
This statement drew the ire of NDC stalwarts who perceived it as a veiled attempt by Akufo-Addo to exploit his opponent’s ill health for political gain. Eventually, because of the “political nature” of President Mills’ health condition, he was compelled to show how fit he was and his ability to govern by jogging on the tarmac of the Accra airport, under the glare of TV cameras, when he returned from the medical trip abroad. He passed away just a few weeks later.
Since the death of President Mills, the issue of the health status of Ghanaian leaders has been a hotly-contested one, especially given what happened to Mills and the positions adopted by various political actors on the issue.
Perhaps sensing how touchy the subject is and gauging the levels of apprehension of the Ghanaian electorate about electing unhealthy candidates as presidents, the leader and presidential candidate of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, took matters a notch higher when in November 2012 he challenged all presidential candidates for that year’s election to submit themselves to medical checks and publish the records.
Nduom’s call came on the heels of a medical check he had undergone himself at Ghana’s largest medical facility, the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra. Following the check, the head of Korle Bu’s Public Health Unit, Dr. Philip Kwaku Amoo, publicly declared Nduom “medically fit to undertake executive function.”
“I declare that Dr. Papa Kwesi Ndoum is physically and mentally healthy. No significant pathology, disease or disability was detected. He is medically fit to undertake executive function, sedentary or physically demanding tasks,” Dr. Amoo told an expectant nation.
Some people lauded Ndoum for the bold initiative and insisted that politicians wanting to occupy public office should be obliged to know their health status and disclose that information to the electorate they intended to lead.
Thus, with Mill’s death acting as a fitting background, the health of presidential candidates appears set to take center stage in Ghana’s 2016 election campaign. The focus this time is likely to be on the 72-year-old NPP flagbearer, Akufo-Addo, who has been struggling to parry off reports of ill health.
His frequent trips abroad and the many halts to his election campaign in recent weeks have been attributed by the Ghanaian media to the visits he has had to make to doctors in the UK and elsewhere because of suspected ailments. Yet Akufo-Addo has been robust in his denials of such media reports but his denials are far from the truth and, by extension, crafted to deceive the Ghanaian public.
Some of Akufo-Addo’s medical records from the Wellington Hospital are very alarming and are proof that he is very sick. All three of his main ailments – prostate cancer, acute kidney injury, and an enlarged heart – are fatal diseases. For instance, prostate cancer is a leading cause of death among men, and globally it is the most common form of cancer after skin cancer. According to medical experts, up to 27,000 men die each year from the disease in the USA alone.
With such serious ailments trying to impede the achievement of his life-long dream to become president, Akufo-Addo has been quietly using all the powers at his command and the financial resources at his disposal to fight these diseases that threaten to stop him from becoming president.
For reasons of sensitivity, Africawatch will withhold the names of Akufo-Addo’s high-profile doctors. But regarding his prostate cancer, Africawatch can report that Akufo-Addo has been seeing a top-flight urologist, one of Britain’s best, at Wellington Hospital, situated in London’s leafy and high-class St. John’s Wood suburb in the northwest of Britain’s capital city.
He is a Briton of Egyptian descent, aged 71. He qualified as a doctor in 1967 in Cairo, Egypt. A consultant urological surgeon for over 27 years, his expertise covers all aspects of general urology, with particular emphasis on the treatment of urological cancers.
Over his professional career, this doctor has gained extensive experience in renal, prostate, and bladder cancer treatment. He is the author of an internationally recognized textbook on prostate cancer and its pathology, diagnosis and treatment.
For his acute kidney injury problems, Akufo-Addo was treated by an intensivist who worked at the Wellington Hospital for 13 years before leaving last year. He is a consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, both in London.
Indeed, Akufo-Addo’s doctors are top class and worthy to treat the man who wants to become Ghana’s next president.
The Wellington Hospital, where Akufo-Addo is receiving treatment, is the largest independent hospital in the UK, famous for its cardiac services, neurosurgery, liver and HPB medicine, rehabilitation, gynaecology, orthopaedics, and other services. HPB stands for Hepato pancreato biliary, a branch of
medicine that deals with benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) diseases of the liver and other diseases relating to the bile or the bile duct, and the pancreas.
The Wellington Hospital has four main sites: North Tower, South Tower, Central Building, and a new Platinum Medical Centre (which is a state-of-the-art diagnostics & outpatients center located at London’s Golders Green suburb. It opened in May 2011 and looks after many high profile patients in the UK and abroad).
It is at the Platinum Medical Centre that the diagnostics of the examinations done on Akufo-Addo’s ill health were conducted. And several of the reports have been frightening. Here are some of them, published unedited but with a few editorial notes alongside.
Writer’s note: In the cervicothoracic region, the examination of Akufo-Addo’s body found that “there is a slight alteration in the alignment” of the vertebrae in that area, “and given the articular distribution and low grade of the activity, it is most likely due to degenerative change.” Which means something is not right in that region of his body.
Worse, he has “vascular calcification” to contend with. Vascular calcification simply means a vessel or vessels, especially those carrying blood in the human body, has (or have) been blocked by hardened deposits of calcium carbonate or some other insoluble calcium compounds, which are restricting the smooth flow of blood.
This condition could have very serious consequences for sufferers, including heart attacks and thrombosis if the blockage is not unblocked through surgery or catheterization – a procedure in which a long, thin tube is inserted through a vein and then fed into the heart where a doctor can perform diagnostic tests, and also treat conditions such as blocked arteries, according to the American Heart Association.
Akufo-Addo’s medical reports show that he has undergone catheterization at the Wellington Hospital.
Writer’s note:This report was categorical. Akufo-Addo’s prostate cancer was treated with external beam radiotherapy. And the examination found “more prerinephric fat” in the kidney.
Medically, “prerinephric fat” is the short form of saying “adipose capsule of kidney,” otherwise known as “perirenal fat,” which is the structure between the renal fascia and renal capsule, and may be regarded as a part of the latter. In a layman’s view, this concerns the kidney and its matters, which in Akufo-Addo’s case the test on January 29, 2014, found “quite extensive” or “more perinephric fat stranding than before,” a sign of kidney disease.
This report proves Akufo- Addo also has acute kidney injury and an enlarged heart. Also known as cardiomegaly, it is a medical condition in which the heart is enlarged. According to medical experts, the causes of cardiomegaly may vary. “Many times this condition results from high blood pressure (hypertension) or coronary artery disease,” according to one medical source. “An enlarged heart may not pump blood effectively, resulting in congestive heart failure.
Cardiomegaly may improve over time, but many people with an enlarged heart need lifelong treatment with medications. Recent studies suggest that cardiomegaly is associated with a higher risk of sudden cardiac death.”
Covering his tracks
Interestingly, most of the times when the NPP presidential candidate felt the need to travel to London for medical treatment, he was spotted in the British capital doing other extra-medical activities, perhaps to prove that he was well. For example, before he did his June 13, 2013 medical examination at the Wellington Hospital, Akufo-Addo attended a church service with his wife, Rebecca, at the Grovesnor Chapel in Mayfair, Central London, to worship with the local Ghanaian community.
For his medical examination conducted on January 29, 2014, Akufo-Addo, who was then in London to recharge his batteries after Ghana’s Supreme Court rejected his appeal to overturn the 2012 presidential election result, postponed his return to Accra. He announced that he would stay away from Ghana because he did not want to influence the voting in the then impending NPP internal elections.
But as it transpired, his medical checkup at the Wellington Hospital was a more pressing matter than not wanting to interfere in the NPP’s internal elections. After all, in the age of improved telecommunications, Akufo-Addo did not need to be present in Ghana to interfere in the NPP elections. But he used his non-interference pledge as a cover to turn prying eyes away from his treatment at the Wellington Hospital.
The revelations carried by Africawatch in this report are likely to provoke impassioned debate in Ghana over the suitability of Akufo-Addo to run for the highest office in the land. NPP members may struggle in this debate in view of the positions they once took against former President Mills whose health was a topic they did not miss an opportunity to use against him.
What is not clear is how the ruling NDC party would approach the subject of Akufo-Addo’s health now that the tables are turned. Will they use it against him or will they follow through on President John Mahama’s pledge at a campaign gathering in Accra in November last year that the NDC would not use anyone’s health or age as a campaign tool? Curiously, in a recent radio interview, the NPP’s communications director, Nana Akomea, appeared to rule out Akufo-Addo’s ability to perform his duties as a president given all the illnesses afflicting him. In a response to a question as to how medical problems could affect a president’s performance, Akomea unwittingly but presciently turned the tables on his presidential candidate by saying:
“If you are a president and you have prostate cancer and it is affecting your work... some of these sicknesses are such that it would affect your work ... it will; if you have kidney worries, you have to go for dialysis maybe twice a week, people would have to know that you have a kidney problem.
“I mean if you have a backache, that is nothing. It doesn’t affect your work. So the lesson is that with the kind of sickness that Professor Mills had, and everybody could see that he was sick, they would have benefitted if they had told Ghanaians what was happening. They would have gotten a lot of sympathy and it probably would have been less stressful for him.”
After the NPP berated the NDC for concealing the details of Mills’ health, after consistently calling for them to be made public, it is unclear how the same party will respond to a demand for its own presidential candidate to come clean on his health status.
When Akomea was asked in the interview whether presidential candidates should disclose their health status and whether it was politically unwise or suicidal for them to do so, his response was very instructive: “No, no, no, no,” he said. “When you go to other places, when the president is having a condition, it is known. It is known. When the Queen goes to hospital, the Queen of England, they don’t hide it. She is not a superwoman. When she goes to hospital it is known, television cameras go there when she is coming out [of hospital].
“If Prince Charles were to be hospitalized, it would be known. I mean we are not saying that when you have a headache or you have a cold, it should be on the front page of the Graphic [Ghana’s leading newspaper owned by the State]. When you have a serious medical condition, the people deserve to know. You see, because it is the people who are bearing the cost of the treatment and the people deserve a right to know about the state of health of the person that they have entrusted national leadership to. They deserve the right to know.”
Will the NPP now live up to their own words and allow the people of Ghana to know the true health status of the man they are putting forward as the candidate for the highest office in the land?
With the leaking of Akufo-Addo’s medical reports, the genie is now out of the bottle. Perhaps the best way for the NPP to handle this serious health issue is not to lie about it or use subterfuge as a cover up, but to face the issue head on in an open, frank manner, as all Ghanaians need to know how this health issue would impact on his ability to govern properly if they vote for him. Akufo-Addo’s medical reports seen by Africawatch are “worrisome” as his own doctors put it.
How all these illnesses will impinge on his ability to govern properly if he wins the December 2016 presidential election is anybody’s guess. But are Ghanaians prepared for another “Mills syndrome,” where ill health rendered the president incapable of performing his functions properly and yet was propped up by his party to continue in office – an ill health that eventually led to his death on the job, with all its implications?
As regards the personal life of Akufo-Addo, his reasons for keeping his health issues private are clearly trumped by the need for all Ghanaians to know who they are electing to lead their country, and what that person’s condition truly is, both in body and soul.
What is this disease?
To better understand what is prostate cancer, one has to look at cancers as a whole. Cancer is not just one disease. Medical experts say it can start at any place in the body – in the lungs, the breast, the colon, or even in the blood. It starts when cells grow out of control and crowd out normal cells. This makes it hard for the body to work the way it should.
Cancers are alike in some ways, but they are different in the ways they grow and spread. However, the good news is that cancer can be treated very well for many people. In fact today more people than ever before lead full lives after cancer treatment.
Medical experts say cancers are alike in the way they start. The cells in the human body all have certain jobs to do. Normal cells divide in an orderly way and die when they are worn out or damaged, and new cells take their place. Cancer is when the cells start to grow out of control. This causes problems in the part of the body where the cancer starts. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body. For instance, cancer cells in the lung can travel to the bones and grow there.
When cancer cells spread, it is called metastasis. When lung cancer spreads to the bones, it is still called lung cancer. To doctors, the cancer cells in the bones look just like the ones from the lung. It is not called bone cancer unless it started in the bones.
Some cancers grow and spread fast. Others grow more slowly. They also respond to treatment in different ways. Some types of cancer are best treated with surgery, others respond better to drugs called chemotherapy, and others to radiation.
Surgery can be used to take out the cancer. The doctor might also take out some or all of the body part the cancer affects. For breast cancer, part (or all) of the breast might be removed. For prostate cancer, the prostate gland might be taken out. But surgery is not used for all types of cancer. For example, blood cancers like leukemia are best treated with drugs.
Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow uncontrollably. The prostate is a gland found only in males. It is below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It makes some of the fluid that is part of semen.
The size of the prostate changes with age. In younger men, it is about the size of a walnut, but it can be much larger in older men. Just behind the prostate are glands called seminal vesicles that make most of the fluid for semen. The urethra, which is the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body through the penis, goes through the center of the prostate.
Almost all prostate cancers are adenocar-cinomas, malignant tumors formed from glandular structures in the epithelial tissue, which is the thin tissue forming the outer layer of a body’s surface and lining the alimentary canal and other hollow structures. The alimentary canal is the whole passage along which food passes through the body from mouth to anus during digestion.
Some prostate cancers can grow and spread quickly, but most grow slowly. In fact, autopsy studies show that many older men (and even some younger men) who died of other causes also had prostate cancer that never affected them during their lives. In many cases neither they nor their doctors even knew they had it.
Different cancers have different risk factors. A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be changed. Others, like a person’s age or family history, can’t be changed. But having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that you will get the disease. Many people with one or more risk factors never get cancer, while others who get cancer may have had few or no known risk factors.
Researchers have found several factors that might affect a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer. The first is age. Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40, but the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. About 6 in 10 cases of prostate cancer are found in men older than 65.
Race or ethnicity is another risk factor. For example in the USA, prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men and in Caribbean men of African ancestry than in men of other races.
African-American men are also more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men. But prostate cancer occurs less often in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites. The reasons for these racial and ethnic differences are not clear.
Then there is geography as a risk factor. Prostate cancer is most common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and in the Caribbean. It is less common in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America.
The reasons for this are also not clear. More intensive screening in some developed countries probably accounts for at least part of this difference, but other factors such as lifestyle differences (diet, etc.) are likely to be important as well.
Another risk factor is family history. Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor. Still, most prostate cancers occur in men without a family history of it.
But having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease. The risk is higher for men who have a brother with the disease than for those who have a father with it. Experts say the risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if their relatives were young when the cancer was found. Another risk factor is gene changes.
Several inherited gene changes seem to raise prostate cancer risk, but they probably account for only a small percentage of cases overall.
There are other factors with less clear effects on prostate cancer risk. The following are some of them.
(a) Diet: The exact role of diet in prostate cancer is not clear, but several factors have been studied. Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer. These men also tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables.
Doctors aren’t sure which of these factors is responsible for raising the risk. Some studies have suggested that men who consume a lot of calcium (through food or supplements) may have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
(b) Obesity: Being obese (very overweight) does not seem to increase the overall risk of getting prostate cancer. In fact, some studies have found that obese men have a lower risk of getting a low-grade (less dangerous) form of the disease, but they have a higher risk of getting more aggressive prostate cancer. The reasons for this are not clear.
(c) Smoking: Most studies have not found a link between smoking and getting prostate cancer. Some research, however, has linked smoking to a possible small increased risk of dying from prostate cancer, but this finding needs to be confirmed by other studies.
(d) Inflammation of the prostrate: Some studies have suggested that prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) may be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer, but other studies have not found such a link. Inflammation is often seen in samples of prostate tissue that also contain cancer. The link between the two is not yet clear and is an active area of research.
(e) Sexually transmitted infections: Researchers have looked to see if sexually transmitted infections (like gonorrhea or chlamydia) might increase the risk of prostate cancer, because they can lead to inflammation of the prostate. So far, studies have not agreed, and no firm conclusions have been reached.
Research into the causes, prevention, detection, and treatment of prostate cancer is ongoing in many medical centers throughout the world. For example, new research on gene changes linked to prostate cancer is helping scientists better understand how prostate cancer develops. This could make it possible to design medicines to target those changes.
Tests to find abnormal prostate cancer genes could also help identify men at high risk who might benefit from screening or from chemoprevention trials, which use drugs to try to keep them from getting cancer.
Most of the gene mutations that have been studied as factors that might increase prostate cancer risk are from chromosomes that are inherited from both parents. Some research has found that a certain variant of mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited only from a person’s mother, might also raise a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer.
As prevention is better than cure, researchers continue to look for foods that can help lower prostate cancer risk. Scientists have found some substances in tomatoes (lycopenes) and soybeans (isoflavones) that might help prevent prostate cancer. Studies are now looking at the possible effects of these compounds more closely.
Scientists are also trying to develop related compounds that are even more potent and might be used as dietary supplements.
One vitamin that may be important in prevention is vitamin D. Some studies have found that men with high levels of vitamin D seem to have a lower risk of developing the more lethal forms of prostate cancer. Overall though, studies have not found that vitamin D protects against prostate cancer.
Many people assume that vitamins and other natural substances are safe to take, but recent research has shown that high doses of some may be harmful, including those in supplements marketed specifically for prostate cancer. For example, one study found that men who take more than seven multivitamin tablets per week may have an increased risk of developing advanced prostate cancer.
Another study showed a higher risk of prostate cancer in men who had high blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil capsules, which some people take to help with their heart, contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Some research has suggested that men who take a daily aspirin for a long time might have a lower risk of getting and dying from prostate cancer. Still, more research is needed to confirm this, and to confirm that any benefit outweighs potential risks, such as bleeding.
Screening can help find some types of cancers at an early stage, when they are likely to be easier to treat. Screening is testing to find cancer in people before they have symptoms.
Medical experts say that prostate cancer can often be found before symptoms arise by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in a man’s blood. Another way to find prostate cancer is the digital rectal exam (DRE), in which the doctor puts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland.
If the results of either one of these tests are abnormal, further testing is often done to see if a man has cancer. If prostate cancer is found as a result of screening with the PSA test or DRE, it will probably be at an earlier, more treatable, stage than if no screening were done.
Doctors doing prostate biopsies often rely on trans rectal ultrasound (TRUS), which creates black and white images of the prostate using sound waves, to know where to take samples from. But standard ultrasound may not detect some areas containing cancer.
A newer approach is to measure blood flow within the gland using a technique called color Doppler ultrasound. Tumors often have more blood vessels around them than normal tissue. It may make prostate biopsies more accurate by helping to ensure the right part of the gland is sampled.
An even newer technique may enhance color Doppler further.
In this approach, the patient is first injected with a contrast agent containing microbubbles, which helps improve the ultrasound images. Promising results have been reported, but more studies will be needed before its use becomes common. Doctors are also studying whether MRI can be combined with TRUS to help guide prostate biopsies in men who previously had negative TRUS-guided biopsies but when the doctor still suspects cancer.
Determining the stage (extent) of prostate cancer plays a key role in determining a man’s treatment options. But imaging tests for prostate cancer such as CT and MRI scans can’t detect all areas of cancer, especially small areas of cancer in lymph nodes.
A newer method known as multipara metric MRI can be used to help determine the extent of the cancer and how aggressive it might be, which might affect a man’s treatment options.
Another newer method, called enhanced MRI, may help find lymph nodes that contain cancer cells. Early results of this technique are promising, but it needs more research before it becomes widely used.
Once prostate cancer has been diagnosed and staged, a patient has a lot to think about before he and his doctor choose a treatment plan. It is important that he thinks carefully about each of his choices.
He will want to weigh the benefits of each treatment option against the possible risks and side effects. Depending on the situation, the treatment options for men with prostate cancer might include: Watchful waiting or active surveillance, surgery, radiation therapy, cryotherapy (cryosurgery), hormone therapy, chemotherapy, vaccine treatment, and bone-directed treatment. These treatments are generally used one at a time, although in some cases they may be combined. As at now, the main types of doctors who treat prostate cancer include:
(a) Urologists: surgeons who treat diseases of the urinary system and male reproductive system (including the prostate).
(b) Radiation oncologists: doctors who treat cancer with radiation therapy.
(c) Medical oncologists: doctors who treat cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy.
The good news is that newer treatments are being developed, and improvements are being made among many standard prostate cancer treatment methods. For example, doctors are constantly improving the surgical techniques used to treat prostate cancer.
The goal is to remove all of the cancer while lowering the risk of complications and side effects from the surgery.
Technology is also making other forms of radiation therapy more effective as well. New computer programs allow doctors to better plan the radiation doses and approaches for both external radiation therapy and brachytherapy.
Researchers are also looking at newer forms of treatment for early-stage prostate cancer. These new treatments could be used either as the first type of treatment or after radiation therapy in cases where it was not successful. One new treatment, known as high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), destroys cancer cells by heating them with highly focused ultrasonic beams. This treatment has been used in some countries for a while.
Many studies have looked at the possible benefits of specific nutrients (often as supplements) in helping to treat prostate cancer, although most of this research is still ongoing. Some compounds being studied include extracts from pomegranate, green tea, broccoli, turmeric, flaxseed, and soy.
Some early research has found that in men with a rising PSA level after surgery or radiation therapy, drinking pomegranate juice or taking a pomegranate extract may slow the time it takes for the PSA level to double. Larger studies are now looking for possible effects of pomegranate juices and extracts on prostate cancer growth.
Some encouraging early results have also been reported with flaxseed supplements. One small study in men with early prostate cancer found that daily flaxseed seemed to slow the rate at which prostate cancer cells multiplied. More research is needed to confirm this finding.
Elsewhere, several newer forms of hormone therapy have also been developed in recent years. Some of these may be helpful even if standard forms of hormone therapy are no longer working.
Another known treatment is chemotherapy (or chemo for short). This involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. Some chemo can be given by IV (into a vein through a needle), and others are a pill a patient swallows. Because chemo drugs travel to nearly all parts of the body, they are useful for cancer that has spread. Studies in recent years have shown that many chemotherapy drugs can affect prostate cancer. Radiation is also used to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. It can be used alone or with surgery or chemo.
Unlike vaccines against infections like measles or mumps, prostate cancer vaccines are designed to help treat, not prevent, prostate cancer. One possible advantage of these types of treatments is that they seem to have very limited side effects.
Several other types of vaccines to treat prostate cancer are being tested in clinical trials. One example is PROSTVAC, which uses a virus that has been genetically modified to contain prostate-specific antigen (PSA). The patient’s immune system should respond to the virus and begin to recognize and destroy cancer cells containing PSA. Early results with this vaccine have been promising, and a larger study is now under way.
Another treatment has been using immune checkpoint inhibitors. An important part of the immune system is its ability to keep itself from attacking other normal cells in the body. To do this, it uses “checkpoints” – molecules on immune cells that need to be turned on (or off) to start an immune response.
Cancer cells sometimes use these checkpoints to avoid being attacked by the immune system.
But newer drugs that target these check points hold a lot of promise as cancer treatments. One promising approach for the future might be to combine a checkpoint inhibitor with a prostate cancer vaccine. This might strengthen the immune response and help the vaccine work better.
All in all, the bottom line is that some patients respond well to prostate cancer treatment and survive and others do not.
Source: The Al-Hajj
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