02.05.2020 Article

Do We Need More Pandemics To Know We Can Build Hospitals

By Samuel Atta Poku
Do We Need More Pandemics To Know We Can Build Hospitals
02.05.2020 LISTEN

As at the time of writing this piece over three million had been affected by the novel coronavirus globally. The global pandemic COVID 19 has killed almost a quarter of a million of the world’s population. There have been far-reaching consequences beyond just the infection of people by the virus.

A third of the world’s population has been on lockdown with schools closed, churches and other public gatherings been suspended. We have come to a point in our lives where calendars are of no essence because “every day is every day”.

The global economy has had its hit probably because it’s not wearing a face mask, not practicing social distancing, and doesn’t have a sanitizer to sanitize the Adams Smith’s invisible hands. By the end of February 2020, the stock markets worldwide saw their largest single week declines since the autumn of the 2008 financial crisis. In an update of the economic impacts by Bloomberg, it was estimated that it could cost the world’s economy $ 2.7 trillion. Companies are losing revenues and employees are forced to take pay cuts.

The economy of Ghana has had its fair share. 2020 projected real GDP growth rate of 6.8 % could see a decline to 1.5% with a partial lockdown. In the event where a total lockdown is initiated these figures will further decline.

The world of sports wasn’t also spared with the termination of the league season of major leagues across the world. I have missed watching Manchester United although I look forward to the cancellation of the English Premier League because I believe lives must be prioritized in this period. They know how to start a league season but what they don’t know how to do is to bring back human life when lost.

In the wake of all these, there is a blessing in disguise in the pandemic. Just like most individuals are putting on extra weight under the partial lockdown while others struggle to afford a meal a day. It is in the same vein that the novel coronavirus pandemic is crushing the economies of most African countries but then also it bringing the drive for innovation in Africans.

As affected countries around the world are having their healthcare systems overwhelmed, the loopholes in the healthcare system of our country have been greatly exposed. Lack of medical facilities such as hospitals and disease control centers, understaffed medical facilities, inadequate personal protective equipment such as gowns, masks, gloves, and the insufficient number of medical ventilators which happens to be one of the essential equipment in treating COVID 19 patients in critical condition.

This has necessitated that the government takes swift measures in addressing these issues. On Saturday, April 11, 2020, the minister of trade Alan Kyeremanteng paid a working visit to some four Ghanaian garment manufacturing companies which have been selected to produce personal protective kits and also some 3.6 million masks to be distributed nationwide.

Per every PPE and mask, we should ask ourselves “when did we realize we can produce these locally?”

The president in his eighth address pointed out that there are 88 districts without district hospitals and 6 six new regions without regional hospitals.

He has therefore initiated the construction of a standard design hundred-bed hospital facility with accommodation for staff in 88 districts without a hospital within a year.

Before this, there was the construction of a hundred-bed isolation center by the COVID 19 private sector fund which is scheduled to be completed in 6 weeks. Yes, you read right! 6 weeks for a hundred-bed isolation center.

Do we need more pandemics to know we can build hospitals in a year?

Individual innovations to help fight the spread of the virus also can’t be overemphasized. We have seen the automation of the handwashing veronica buckets and the creation of an automated disinfection chamber. Notable among the innovations is the development of rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kits which can produce results in 15–20 minutes and is still being optimized by Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and Incas Diagnostics and a locally manufactured ventilator by the same university.

It is of no surprise that the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology rose to the occasion when they were needed the most because they are living their essence.

What has been holding our scientists back all these years? Do we need more pandemics to see more from there? Will it take another invisible virus for the government to invest in science and technology?

With schools being closed down for almost 6 weeks it is estimated that some 9,696,756 children and youth are currently not in the four walls of the classroom because of the pandemic.With schools being closed down for almost 6 weeks it is estimated that some 9,696,756 children and youth are currently not in the four walls of the classroom because of the pandemic.

There has been the introduction of digital learning through various e-learning platforms and traditional media. Will we be able to sustain and improve this medium of learning which can serve as a panacea for the growing number in enrollment in our universities with limited facilities.

With over 1.2 million free senior high school graduates by 2022, it is prudent we will consider building satellite campuses in the various districts. Do we need more pandemics to compel us in taking those actions?

With the introduction of the COVID 19 private fund, we have seen the tremendous contributions of individuals, churches, politicians, and corporate bodies towards the fund. Going forward can we have a centralized fund that will have individuals, churches, philanthropic agencies, and corporate bodies contribute willingly to undertake specific projects each year.

Just like the government and individuals who came up with innovations within this period, some of us had goals, business ideas, a skill that had to be learned, and it only took us this period to execute them. My human development agency Leading Leagues Inc was established because a virus decided to lock us up in our homes and I had the time to establish it.

If a pandemic can make us proactive and productive then I say WE NEED MORE PANDEMICS.

But then this time it is not a pandemic caused by a virus. We need a pandemic of demanding accountability from our leaders. A pandemic of managing our affairs. A pandemic of investing and supporting our local manufacturers. A pandemic of investing in our education and research.

A pandemic of driving our change without foreign aid and support. A pandemic that will give birth to the new African man Nkrumah spoke of. A pandemic of uniting the political divides for the greater good of our country and continent at large.

A pandemic of being citizens and not spectators. With our personal lives, we need pandemics of self-discipline. A pandemic of giving ourselves to autodidactism. We need a pandemic of establishing and nurturing long term mutually beneficial relationships by networking with people across various professional fields. A pandemic of driving change in our societies.

If a microorganism can bring the world to its feet then we as men can turn our lives and the world around by our thoughts and actions.

Currently, I’m dealing with a pandemic of unkempt hair. The next time I write to you I will do so with a clean shave.

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