Coronavirus: Community Focus Foundation Commends Akufo-Addo For Suspending Officials From Foreign Trips
The Management and Board of Community Focus Foundation Ghana (CFF-GH) commends the President of the Republic, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo for the directive given to government officials to temporarily suspend all foreign travels as an additional measure aimed at safeguarding Ghana from the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) which has already been declared as world pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
We further wish to thank His Excellency the President sincerely for the release of One Hundred Million United States Dollars ($100M) to combat COVID-19 in Ghana.
Inasmuch as we commend government’s efforts at putting in place some preliminary measures to prevent any outbreak of the virus, we are however not too satisfied with the country’s preparedness towards any outbreak. From our checks so far, it is only the Kotoka International Airport (one of our major entry points) which has standardized facilities and put in place stringent measures for effective screening.
It is interesting to note that surveillance at most borders linked to our neighbouring countries including Togo, Burkina-Faso, Cote d’Ivoire where the COVID-19 has been recorded cannot be said to be satisfactory per the established protocols.
Public education about the deadly virus among citizens especially those around border towns is very low and we do not think this is good for Ghana, a country listed as one of the vulnerable that could easily be hit with the pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Our other fear and grave concern has to do with the multiple entries by travellers through unapproved routes into Ghana. These individuals do not get screened for the basic symptoms posing public health threats to the country. For instance, some officials and residents of Paga have expressed their displeasures about these worrying developments.
The big question however is in the midst of the troubling issues raised; can Ghana be said to be fully prepared to prevent or contain an outbreak in the unlikely event that it does occur?
Whiles at it, we recommend the following measures to help prevent or contain any outbreak in Ghana:
1. That Government should take action and actively engage NGOs/CSOs with proven track record including CFF-GH, GNECC, CSOs Platform on the SDGs, Sub-Platform3 (SDG3), CONFSEC, CONIWAS, and Coalition of NGOs in Health among others to support in its public education campaigns.
2. That citizens must strictly adhere to personal hygiene (frequent washing of hands under running water and use of alcohol based sanitizers etc…). The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Sanitation Ministry should take collective action and engage water service providers to install hand washing facilities at all lorry parks and market places. Hand washing must be declared and enforced as a means of maintaining personal hygiene.
3. Government must take a bold decision and temporarily ban travels from the hard hit countries.
4. Any traveller (government official, diplomat, business man or woman, student etc…) from the hard hit countries must be quarantined for the stipulated 14 days before reintegration into mainstream society.
5. Avoid hand shaking at least for now. This declaration should be made by the Minister of Health.
6. That citizens should have keen interest in the usage of the COVID-19 allocated funds ($100M+Ghc2.5 M previously released and other supplementary amounts) to ensure funds are strictly used for its intended purpose(s).
7. Citizens, the President inclusive and foreign nationals based in Ghana must suspend all foreign trips to the affected countries for now.
8. The scientific community should also take action and conduct investigations and come out with home-grown solutions within the shortest possible time.
9. Action should be taken quickly on the construction of the isolated treatment centres (make-shift) outside Accra. What we have in place now is nothing to write home about.
10. More essential logistics and protective clothing should be procured for frontline workers without delay.
We are of the strongest view that our 10 point recommendations would go a long way to support the fight against the deadly coronavirus in Ghana should government consider them.
Mr. Richard Kasu
(EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CFF-GH)