Dear President Akufo-Addo,
In my article, Coronavirus disease on a “Crowded Planet”, I suggested ten (10) things we can do. Lockdown was one of the ten measures. Mr. President, to clarify, lockdown does not mean total shutdown of the country.
This morning, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) have, all, advocated lockdown. I pray and hope your Government will listen in good faith and act urgently.
I think your Government is lagging behind in its response to COVID-19. You have waited for the vertical transmission to translate into horizontal transmission. Let us not wait any longer!
Let us not rely on the fact that COVID-19 is not very devastating on populations such as ours – because we have a relatively young population as compared to Europe and we do not have many people who smoke etc.
Yes, Ghana’s population is young; but we have weaker health systems that cannot sustain a full blown intracommunity outbreak. In addition, our settlements and transportation (tro tro, taxi) systems are very weak and crowded.
Furthermore, we also have people with diabetes, hypertension, pulmonary diseases such as Asthma and Chronic Bronchitis among others who will be terribly affected if COVID-19 gets out of hand in Ghana, our dear country.
Assuming 200 people (God forbid) need ventilators at the same time for respiratory support in Ghana; do we have enough anaesthetists and logistics to cover them while at the same time ensuring we have enough to take care of other medical and surgical emergencies?
Mr. President, let us act now and act decisively.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Dr. Edward Kofi Omane Boamah
Former Minister for Communications
Frontline Health Worker In Ghana
24th March, 2020
NB: I wish to reproduce the ten (10) suggestions; I made towards Ghana’s victory against Coronavirus disease for your consideration.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
- Prevention! We must keep it simple: thorough handwashing with soap under running water. Where running water is unavailable, authorities should provide Veronica buckets (a Ghanaian invention) and tippy taps.
- We must report early to health care providers when we develop fever, cough or difficulty in breathing.
- We must not shake hands.
- If you already have hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cancer, long-standing respiratory disease such as asthma, you stand a higher chance of contracting coronavirus disease. Same can be said for the elderly above 60 years. Therefore, greater precautions must be exercised.
- Also, do not refuse to be quarantined or self-isolate if need be – you can read, listen to music, watch television and participate in group video chats but stay away from gatherings, gyms, sleepovers and concerts for fourteen (14) days.
- Social distancing really helps. We must also limit contact between people to reduce the spread of infections. So, limit being in large groups; Government should strongly consider implementing a lockdown to prevent horizontal spread of the infection.
- Governments. Governments must act fast and decisively to nip the pandemic in the bud and build resilient health systems. I urge the President of Ghana to release money from the Heritage Fund – even if that is the last resort – to bend the arc of infections urgently and immediately before it is too late for Ghanaians.
- Furthermore, the required infrastructure and logistics are disproportionately scanty in Ghana. I do not expect mushrooming of new infrastructure overnight. We ought to be realistic. The ministers for Health and Local Government and Rural Development should engage all Regional Directors of Health to identify facilities in the sixteen regions of Ghana as possible quarantine centres. It will be impossible to transfer coronavirus patients from the hinterlands to the capital, Accra.
- The United Nations, African Union, ECOWAS, CSOs, NGOs, Pharmaceutical Companies, researchers, public health and policy experts including health workers must accept our common but differentiated responsibilities and work to save our crowded planet to ensure sustainable growth and development.
- Finally, I urge you to stop peddling rumours and myths about coronavirus disease. Help save everyone, including yourself.