Adequate preparedness against COVID-19: Ghana needs GH¢35m to combat disease – WHO

Ghana will need GH¢35 million for adequate preparedness against Covid-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

In an assessment report released on Friday, the WHO noted that inspite of a GH¢2.5 million allocation by government towards preparedness for any eventuality, the amount was insufficient.

The organisation identified funding gaps in areas of capacity building, surveillance, risk communication, laboratory, equipment and logistics in tackling a possible outbreak.

It thus urged government to allocate more funds to implement various preparedness activities planned.

“Support from government has so far gone towards the provision of personal, protective equipment (PPEs), coordination activities and health declaration forms. Adequate funding will be required to implement remaining activities,” it stated.

The WHO’s recommendation comes on the back of a recorded case of Covid-19 in Nigeria, making it the first sub-Saharan African country to be hit by the disease.

Reports say the case involves an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and had flown into the commercial capital Lagos from Milan on February 25.

In reaction to the development however, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) assured Ghanaians to remain calm as it continues to “intensify preparedness activities and heighten surveillance at all points of entry to ensure that all citizens are safe and secured.”

The service thus entreated the general public to stick to precautionary measures of washing hands regularly with soap under running water or if possible use hand sanitizers.

“Practice common cough and sneezing etiquette such as covering of mouth with handkerchief or tissue paper when coughing or sneezing and if you have recently arrived from any of the countries that have reported a case, we advise you to stay away from public gatherings (self-quarantine) for at least 14 days,” it urged.

The GHS advised travellers returning from affected countries not to visit any health facility on their own should they show symptoms of fever, cough and difficulty in breathing.

 Instead, it asked such persons and the general public to contact its call centre for assistance on 055 2222 004, 055 2222 005, 050 9497700 and 055 8439 868, urging citizens to “avoid non-essential visit to affected countries.”

Meanwhile, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has called for the reactivation of a well-coordinated rapid response team “like the one set up during the Ebola pandemic in 2014/2015.”

 “We reiterate our call on government for the set up of the three (3) national centres of excellence for infectious disease management and research across the three (3) national geographical belts.”

Expressing the need for adequate resources for the health care system in the face of the crisis, the GMA urged doctors and other health care workers to get actively involved as the country strengthens preparedness towards any possible case of Covid-19 in Ghana.

The WHO declared a global health emergency for Covid-19 following the outbreak of the virus in Wuhan in the Hubei province of China.

So far, over 50 countries worldwide have recorded the disease which is spread through human to human transmission with confirmed cases and death cases hitting 6,009 and 2,838 respectively.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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