There is the popular saying that, “in every cloud is a silver lining”. This cliché could not have had a better meaning than that of the turbulent wind of COVID 19 that is blowing across the surface of the earth. Since the latter parts of the year 2019 to date, the world has been stunned with the outbreak of Coronavirus disease which has taken the lives of many and left a lot more on life support. The most worrying part of this global catastrophe which has been described as one that could be compared to World War II with regards to its resultant collapse of worldwide economies is the fact that the most powerful modern scientists around the world are yet to find any cure or vaccine to combat it.
Contrary to the natural worldwide culture of handshaking, hugging and exchange of pleasantries, most persons around the world now have to endure a form of house arrest known as lockdown, avoid close contacts in the name of social distancing among others.
Although the measures put in place by Health Authorities to prevent the spread of the disease including regular washing of hands under running water, use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, practice of cough ethics and observing social distancing of at least one meter among others initially seemed to be a difficult task to individuals, it is refreshing and praiseworthy that most Ghanaians have recently embraced the practice in the bid of preventing the deadly COVID-19.
The positive behavior of individuals and the government towards preventing the Coronavirus disease is in tandem with what Rosenstock and Becker said in the 1960s and 1970s in the Health Belief Model that, individuals will take action to prevent a disease based on their perception of their susceptibility to the disease, the severity of the disease, their belief that a course of action will be beneficial in reducing their susceptibility and the severity of the disease and if the benefits of the actions to prevent the disease outweigh the costs.
Now the big question is; are Ghanaians going to cultivate these disease prevention behaviours after the termination of the COVID-19 or we will relapse until there is another outbreak?
Handwashing with soap under running water reduces diarrheal diseases in populations up to 58% and protects 1 out of every 3 children who get sick with diarrhea; saving about 1.8 million children under the age of 5 who die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, the top two killers of young children around the world. Good cough ethics likewise, helps prevent various airborne diseases like tuberculosis which currently is prevalent in Ghana.
The healthiest lesson the COVID-19 pandemic has thought us as a nation, is the inculcation of the culture personal hygiene and the need for individuals and governments to prioritize preventive health. Ordinarily, one would hear everyone saying “prevention is better than cure”, however, the attitudes, commitments and investments of individuals and governments in our part of the world make this statement mere rhetoric.
In order not to bore you, I would want to end by appealing with all and sundry to make personal hygiene and other preventive health practices a lifestyle.
The government of the Republic of Ghana should as a matter of urgency, consider prioritizing and massively investing in preventive health through training and recruiting more Environmental Health Officers and Health Promotion Officers in the MMDAs and the Ghana Health Service respectively and adequately resourcing them to undertake preventive health services along with the necessary investment in the curative sector of our health system. The increased life expectancy in the developed countries is not only the result of advanced curative services, but also as a result of the massive investment in preventive health that empowers people to take control over their own health and thereby improve their health.
May God bless our homeland Ghana and make our Nation Great and strong.
Mathias Mawuli Ametefe
Environmental Health Officer/BPH-Health Promotion
Email: [email protected]