Indeed, desperate situations call for desperate measures. The lockdown in parts of our beloved country is a necessity in preventing the spread of the Coronavirus Disease pandemic. However, the effectiveness of measures by government to reduce the numerous challenges faced by the ordinary Ghanaian due to the lockdown remains a major concern while as to whether the nation will learn lessons from this pandemic remains a question yet to be answered.
In the face of the serious health and economic threats posed by the COVID 19 pandemic, a lockdown in parts of the country is among the surest means of preventing the spread with China being a classical example. As the number of cases recorded in Ghana is increasing steadily and spreading to other regions with Two Hundred and Four cases in Five regions as at 2nd April, 2020, there remains a possibility of extension of the lockdown to other regions if not the entire nation, and a potential total lockdown. The good people of Ghana are adjusting to cope with the lockdown in the interest of public health and for others, for fear of being brutalized by security operatives.
The fortune in the COVID 19 stimulated lockdown is the fact that parents who otherwise, for the sake of tight work schedules had no time to spend with their children can now bond with them. By God’s grace, the politicians who would have run to the western world for medical check-ups and treatment at the expense of the taxpayer and as a result of the neglect of their own health systems now have no routes of escape. But for the lockdown in parts of the country, I could not have agreed more with a suggestion by some individuals that all politicians who fall sick be sent to health facilities in their constituencies for treatment.
The introduction of the Ghana Learning Television (GL TV) by the Ghana Education Services to educate pupils from primary to Senior High Levels is commendable and should be utilized by all concerned pupils and teachers, whereas the Gender Ministry’s initiative of providing shelter and food to Kayeye’s at affected areas is a step in the right direction which needs to be properly implemented. This should, however, extend to other vulnerable and homeless individuals on the streets.
CHALLENGES: ECONOMIC, SANITATION RELATED AND PSYCHOLOGICAL
The government is reminded that, majority of the Ghanaian people at the lockdown areas are in the informal sector and live on their daily hustles on the street. The restriction of movement is thus, negatively impacting on their ability to earn any income, hence, affecting their purchasing power leading to household food insecurity which will compromise the immune system of these families.
The president in his address to the nation said people are not restricted from attending to natures call at public toilets, however, these same people are being subjected to scrutiny and undue delays by security operatives, a situation which needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
According to health experts, staying indoors for a very long time can induce stress which negatively impacts on health. Other effects may include moodiness, anxiety and restlessness, sleep troubles, fatigue and sedentary lifestyles which are underlying factors for other health conditions such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
The presidents quote “we know how to bring the economy back to life, what we do not know is how to bring people back to life” is a legendary one that has been hailed by top leaders across the globe. In his address, the president said that; “we will, therefore, protect people’s lives, then livelihoods”.
In the letter and spirit of the president’s statements, I would humbly appeal to the government to expedite action on providing stimulus packages to individuals, families and small businesses as well as industries including but not limited to provision of food and cash, reduction in fuel prices and drastic reduction if not total waiver of utility bills like water and electricity bills during the lockdown period
The Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Services should put the Public Health Staff such as the Nutrition Officers, the Health Promotion Officers and Mental Health Officers to good use by resourcing them to provide the necessary strategic education needed to reduce the impact of the lockdown and its health sequelae.
Environmental Health Officers in the MMDAs across the country need to be well resourced, motivated and given the needed Personal Protective Equipment to sanitarily and safely dispose of the dead resulting from COVID 19. They need to be further resourced to enforce all hygiene and sanitation laws
Ghanaian governments, both present and future need to learn from the COVID 19 experience and make proper and adequate investments in the health system of the country and avoid doing politics with matters relating to 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]