Along with most Ghanaians last Saturday night, I watched H.E Nana Akufo-Addo's broadcast address to the nation with keen anticipation to learn what our nation is doing to manage the impact of this global pandemic now on our shores and to also understand the effectiveness of the last announced measures.
Based on how this coronavirus pandemic has played out across the globe, the sentiment of many, as we took our seats to tune into the broadcast was - Mr. President we need to avert a catastrophe and we must act now!
First and foremost, we are grateful to members of our health services now fighting to manage the confirmed cases and avoid the spread of the virus. It is good to recognize and applaud your efforts and duty to our country. We must support you and endeavour to continue to follow reiterated recommendations by the World Health Organization and other authorities with regards to social distancing etc.
By the time the address was broadcast, the number of people infected with Covid-19 had grown significantly (over 300% since last week) and we were not given pertinent information needed at this time to ramp up our efforts to win Ghana's battle against the virus – which I believe is very possible.
Our expectation was a clear strategy on how we as a country are approaching this epidemic in the wake of its spread. Are we transitioning from a Mitigation Strategy to Suppression Strategy? And if so, when will that call be made?
Mitigating strategies were used in the early days of the virus in USA, UK – limited action, education, and letting the virus run its course – this is what we are doing in Ghana now. This approach does NOT contain the epidemic as there will be higher infection rates; which may lead to very high mortality rates, overwhelmed healthcare systems and eventual collapse of said systems because other ailments are subsequently neglected.
Suppression strategies (i.e. extreme lockdown Spain, Italy, Singapore, South Korea) where strict measures are immediately put in place to control the virus have also emerged. If done effectively, this strategy can cut down infection rates, resulting in lower numbers of total cases, decreased deaths, and relieve pressure on the healthcare system. States in the U.S, UK, and across the world are now reverting to this measure as initial mitigating strategies haven't worked.
To people who say we cannot follow the measures taken in the West, I agree; since their efforts were not robust enough! I say we learn from their mistakes and adapt the best approach for our environment. “It takes a wise man to learn from his mistakes but an even wiser one to learn from others'”.
Let us strive to be wiser and learn from the mistakes currently being made elsewhere. To beat this virus, we need to take very strong measures immediately, which if done right will be temporary, after which we can go back to our normal lives and protect ourselves with heightened hygiene measures.
God bless us all.