Ghana’s points of entry equipped with mobile laboratories to respond to public health emergencies

By Praise Nutakor || UNDP
Health Ghana’s points of entry equipped with mobile laboratories to respond to public health emergencies

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Ghana Health Service and with funding from the Government of Japan has put up mobile laboratories at four points of entry, to facilitate swift and accurate detection and response to public health emergencies.

The laboratories are provided at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra and the borders along Aflao, Elubo, and Paga.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony in Accra, the Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP in Ghana, Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov, emphasized the significant role of points of entry in economic development. He also stressed on the importance of this in disease surveillance, risk communication, infection prevention and control during health emergencies, and calls for investment in emergency preparedness.

“Delivering on the promise to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 will be impossible without adequate investment in pandemic preparedness. UNDP as the UN’s foremost development agency firmly believes this and acknowledges that being better prepared for future pandemics is a crucial component of human security,” added Khoshmukhamedov.

Dr Patrick Kuma Aboagye, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), in his remarks, recounted the country’s initial challenges at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic due to limited testing facilities.

“In the last few years, we’ve had to respond to COVID, Marburg, lassa fever and monkey pox. This new facility will contribute to Ghana’s efforts in conducting tests for individuals who require testing for any emerging health condition. This will help ensure a more resilient response to future health emergencies.”

The Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. MOCHIZUKI Hisanobu, emphasized the importance of sustainable healthcare in tackling health challenges. He affirmed Japan's commitment to collaborating and supporting preparedness efforts to effectively address health emergencies such as global pandemics.

“I would like to thank UNDP, Ghana Health Service, Port Health Services for their cooperation, which is key to implementing different projects in Ghana. These collaborations and partnerships are critical in order to safeguard Ghana’s progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage”, noted H.E. MOCHIZUKI.

The provision of the points of entry mobile laboratories is part of a broader project aimed at ‘strengthening community health system to support the continuity of essential services for the vulnerable during and post COVID-19 pandemic’. The laboratories are well-equipped with the state-of-the-art machines to support early detection and management of public health threats. In collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), UNDP has also strengthened the capacities of Port Health staff in Aflao, Elubo, Paga, and the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) to support effective management and utilization of the laboratories.

The project intervention has also led to the construction of a fully equipped Community Health-Based Planning Services (CHPS) compound at Chorkor and a patient-care block at Anyaa Polyclinic, all in Accra, together with the training of community health workers. Other community facilities have also received medical and operational equipment, including weight and height scales, adult and pediatric stethoscopes, digital blood pressure apparatus, refrigerator thermometers, motorbikes, tricycles, and tablets.

A digital platform to provide psychosocial support for young persons living with HIV, has also been developed under the project, to support the continuity of essential services for the vulnerable.