Health care system response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Ghana

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Since the declaration of the pandemic, the novel coronavirus, Covid-19 by the World Health Organization last March, the government of Ghana has taken several legislative, executive and policy measures to combat the disease (Ministry of Health, 2020; Ghanaweb 2020). Measures have included regular updates by the Ministry of information, presidential addresses in televised broadcasts, border closures, movement restrictions, social gatherings and lockdowns, economic stimulus packages, fundraising and public education campaigns, the expansion of health infrastructure, laboratory and research capacity (Ministry of Health, 2020). The government’s strategy has primarily focused on limiting the importation of the virus in the country, controlling its spread with Ghana, caring for infected persons, minimizing socioeconomic impacts while strengthening internal capacity and health infrastructure (Ministry of Health, 2020).

Whilst these have been lauded as some of the most comprehensive Covid-19 measures in the sub-region, Ghana’s covid-19 cases continue to increase and as of June 20, Ghana registered over 13,000 confirmed cases (Ghana Health Service, 2020). The increases in the Covid-19 cases could be attributed to many internal challenges which could be impacting on the implementation of its policies.

  1. Many of Ghana’s measures are not often sustained or consistently enforced. It appears as if the lockdowns were lifted too early with limited oversight on the adherence of social protocols.
  2. Food distribution during the lockdowns was chaotic and lacked any strategies to ensure social distancing protocols.
  3. Weak socio-economic environment to enforce lockdowns as in developed countries.
  4. Government could not sustain supporting the poor to stay home for much longer; the poor have to go out daily to make a living
  5. Ghanaians in the affected areas were not complying due to economic hardship and inefficient food distribution strategy/not enough food and may not have had all their needs met:
    • Overcrowding housing situations and possibly difficulty staying inside due to heat and limited space
    • Lack of private toilets within households
    • Social environments/compound housing and sharing of toilet facilities
    • Due to poverty and economic people may have to buy food out
    • Lack of understanding of the seriousness of the disease due to illiteracy, ignorance, mistrust, misinformation and belief systems.
    • Over politicization of the covid-19 situation in Ghana

Recommendations

To curb the spread, the government should improve its data collection particularly in areas of severe spread, isolate those areas through mandatory quarantine and mass testing. In addition to mandatory universal masking currently being enforced nationwide, the government should ensure the most affected areas and the poorest populations are supplied with free masks and financial support to encourage stay-ins. The president should use and encourage the delivery of Covid-19 communiques in local languages by local and national authorities to expand their reach. The government should use this opportunity to improve sanitation and construct free accessible flush public toilets with running water to ensure better hygiene and infection control practices. Authorities should use mobile tracking, collaborative efforts (i.e. curfews, community watch groups, patrols) between traditional leaders, local officials and the police to ensure compliance. The government should partner with prominent and credible religious leaders to educate their congregants about the seriousness and indiscriminate nature of the spread of the disease despite one’s religious beliefs.

References

1. Michael, Akafia “Ghana’s COVID 19 response: A missing piece – the saga of stranded Ghanaian temporary visitors (12 May, 2020). Ghanaweb.com https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/Ghana-s-COVID-19-response-A-missing-piece-the-saga-of-stranded-Ghanaian-temporary-visitors-949864

2. Government of Ghana/Ministry of Health, Covid-19 Response Ghana’s Experience https://apps.who.int/gb/COVID-19/pdf_files/07_05/Ghana.pdf 

This article was written by Mrs. Akosua Gyimah

Source: CEBSAR-AFRICA

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