The Ministry of Information, Ghana Health Service (GHS), and partners have organised a one-day capacity building workshop for the Central Regional House of Chiefs on COVID-19 and its associated stigma, safety protocols, and Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).
The Capacity Building Workshop was held to sensitize the chiefs on the need to ensure their subjects adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.
In his opening remarks, the Paramount Chief of Gomoa Ajumako Traditional Area and the President of Central Regional House of Chiefs, Obrempong Nyankul Krampah XI commended President Nana Akufo-Addo for his proactive steps taken to contain the virus in Ghana.
Obrempong Nyankul Krampah XI advised chiefs and queen mothers to lead community-level education on COVID-19 to ensure their community members continue to adhere to the safety protocols.
He opined that to sustain the decreasing number of active cases, adherence to the safety protocols remains vital.
The training which was led by the Leader of National Risk Communication and Social Mobilization Committee for Ghana's COVID-19 Response Team and the Director of Health Promotion at Ghana Health Service, Dr Da costa Aboagye stressed the need to end stigma against persons infected and treated of COVID-19.
Dr Da Costa Aboagye argued that conditions such as hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and cancers have been identified among the top 4 causes of mortality, especially among the aged in Ghana.
According to Dr. Da Costa, the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and the Government will initiate a ‘wellness program’ as one of the key methods to early detect NCDs with the aim of institutionalising ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach to support curative health services.
“This means to support the existing NHIS primary health care delivery in the country, the government will focus on health promotion and prevention from 2021”, he noted.
Speaking to the press after the workshop, Dr Da Costa said: “The current COVID-19 pandemic has provoked social stigma and discriminatory behaviours against infected persons and their families leading to people hiding their illnesses and not seeking health care early”.
He further noted that "Majority of the COVID-19 deaths recorded in this country came from co-morbidities, such as hypertension, stroke, and diabetes. Thus a need to step up education on these non-communicable diseases."
He urge chiefs and opinion leaders to provide leadership towards the fight against stigma and assist individuals who have been abandoned because they contracted the virus.
Dr Da Costa Aboagye stressed that the media should help educate and encourage Ghanaians to adopt healthy behaviours such as regular exercising, eating our local foods as well as more fruits and vegetables, having enough rest, and avoiding stress.
He further advised the general public to continue adhering to the safety protocols by washing hands thoroughly with soap under running water, wearing of face mask, observing social distance, and also show love and support towards each other to help defeat this virus.
The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah acknowledged that Government appreciates the immeasurable partnership and role of traditional authorities in the national development agenda and particularly their support in the enforcement of the restrictions that were imposed during the lockdown period.
"We recognized for instance that the imposition of the restriction on mass gatherings such as funerals and festivals were largely successful because of the understanding and active support of our Chiefs and Queens," he emphasized.
He also noted that the stringent measures may have inconvenienced many but were necessary for the interest of public health.”