The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has suggested to government to among other things consider the enforcement of a “stay at home” policy to help combat the novel coronavirus disease in the country.
According to the association, a total lockdown being suggested by a section of the public should be a last resort if all mechanisms deployed fail to yield the needed results.
In a press release signed by UTAG’S National President, Prof. Charles Marfo and National Secretary, Dr. Eric K. K Abavare, the association said in the event where a lockdown is adopted, government must consider providing food and other essentials for those who do not have the resources to go through that period.
“While a lockdown, aimed at containment and/or restriction of the disease to affected communities is desirable, Ghana’s socioeconomic circumstances make it impractical. We should not lose sight of the fact that countries, states and cities presently on lockdown and have been successful in pursuing it have robust social support systems in place. What will benefit our situation is to encourage our district and metropolitan authorities to religiously enforce the ‘stay at home’ policy. However, where a lockdown becomes the last resort for us, we would advocate for efforts to support the poor and other disadvantaged groups who may not have the means to store food and other essentials for the period of the lockdown,” the association added in the statement.
The statement further called for the establishment of more testing centres to support the already existing ones, regular supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and intensification of public education on the pandemic.
“Government should expedite action on the proposed establishment of more testing centres to support the services of the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR) and Noguchi. We recommend the immediate resourcing of the Navrongo and Kintampo Health Research centre … a patent supply chain management system that will ensure a steady supply of Personal Protective Equipment needs to be put in place immediately. This must not benefit only the public health facilities, but also the private facilities as well… in this regard, the National Commission for Civic Education and the Information Services Department should be engaged to intensify education particularly on the realities and myths of COVID-19 to avert fear and panic”.
UTAG applauded government for the steps taken so far towards the fight against the pandemic but called for the inclusion of psychologists and psychiatrists in the treatment process.
“A robust team of psychologists and psychiatrists should be made available in all health facilities to manage the post-traumatic stress associated with the disease. particularly, these specialists should be part of drafting the public service announcements to allay the fears of the population… rather ban calling in retired health personnel to support, UTAG believes employing our young and vibrant unemployed health professionals by the government will be a better option. The present option will needlessly endanger our retired health professionals who belong to groups most at risk of COVID-19. Preparing the uncompleted affordable houses in the various regions for case management of isolated patients must also be considered where more spaces are needed as wards to avoid possible nosocomial infection of OPD patients (infections at the Health Care institutions) due to COVID-l9 infection”.
Some groups including the Ghana Medical Association, Trades Union Congress as well as the Bureau of Public Safety had all advised the government to lock down parts of the country to curb the spread of coronavirus which has so far claimed three lives in the country and affected a total of 132 persons.