The Ministry of Information, the Ghana Health Service, and Partners have provided a one-day training and orientation for the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs on COVID-19, Non Communicable diseases, stigma, and the preventive safety protocols.
The workshop which was chaired by His Royal Majesty Nii Okwei Kinka Dowuona VI, the President of the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs and President of the Osu Traditional Council came off on Tuesday 22nd September 2020.
In his opening remarks, Nii Okwei Kinka Dowuona VI On behalf of his chiefs thanked President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo for the measures put in place by his government to slow down the spread of COVID 19 which has yielded positive results for the entire nation and the Greater Accra region.
The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Hon. Ishmael Ashitey remarked that "The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a great tow on Ghana and the world at large. Many economic activities and societies have been disrupted even in advanced countries with powerful and sophisticated health systems. However, the government of Ghana has intervened in an unprecedented manner as a fundamental responsibility to the people of Ghana we have pledged to serve. We have put in place a lot of measures including the safety protocols to help fight this virus and its associated consequences”.
Hon. Ishmael Ashitey said, the massive success attained in this fight was due to the right political leadership, measures put forward by the government, financial commitment as well as investments in our health system made by the President of Ghana. He further admonishes all citizenry to adhere strictly to the COVD-19 safety protocols as that is the only weapon we have against this virus.
Leading the Ministry of Information for orientation was the Deputy Minister for Information Hon. Pius Enam Hadzide who in his address requested the revered chiefs to lead the rollout of the community engagement and risk education strategy to deepen awareness of COVID-19 to sustain adherence to the safety protocol. He said government indeed appreciate the partnership with traditional authority in the national development agenda and also the support received during the enforcement of the restrictions that were imposed in our effort to combat COVID-19.
Hon. Pius Enam Hadzide intimated that the government’s strategy was anchored on 5 main pillars.
• Limit importation of COVID-19 Cases
• Contain community spread to the barest minimum
• Provide adequate care for affected persons
• Limit the impact of COVID-19 on the socioeconomic life of Ghanaians
• Deepen our self-reliance and increase of production capacity
To this end since the pandemic hit the country, the measures deployed by the government to fight the virus have been in the interest of public health. He intimated that the number of recoveries has increased tremendously. As of 21st September 2020, confirmed cases were 46,062 with a total of 45,258 recoveries marking a 98% recovery rate while 297 have unfortunately succumbed to the infection.
In his concluding remarks the Deputy Minister for Information Hon. Pius Enam Hadzida thanked the chiefs for their instrumental role in collaborating with the government in the fight against COVID 19. He urged that in this crucial time, what must be done is to continue adherence to the safety protocols.
The workshop which was led by the Director of Health Promotion Division of Ghana health service and Leader of National Risk Communication and Social Mobilization Committee for Ghana's COVID-19 Response Team, Dr. Da costa Aboagye focused his presentation on education on COVID 19, Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), stigma, wellness clinics, community engagement, and the preventive protocols.
Dr. Da Costa Aboagye said. “Although COVID-19 has claimed lives, statistics especially in the rate of recoveries look encouraging.
The initial fear that gripped the country when the first cases were reported seems to have been replaced with a probing sense of hope as the country records a slow rate of spread of the virus”. Dr. Da costa further observed that "unfortunately it appears Ghanaians are gradually relaxing in observance of the safety protocols. The wearing of a face mask is reducing by the day, social distancing is not being strictly adhered to, the frequency of handwashing has also reduced significantly. This picture gives a cause for concern”.
Dr. Da Costa remarked, “The pandemic has not left us yet and there is no vaccine to protect us against this family of viruses, we are informed that scientists are still trying to understand the full picture of the pandemic its symptoms, and its severity”. He urges that we cannot at this time afford to throw caution out of the way because letting our guards down could result in an erosion of the remarkable gains.
Dr. Aboagye says “the current COVID-19 outbreak has provoked social stigma and discriminatory behaviours against people of certain ethnic backgrounds as well as people infected and their families and the impact are that it will essentially drive people to hide the illness to avoid discrimination, Prevent people from seeking health care immediately, Discourage them from adopting healthy behaviours and can cause depression in people who have recovered from the COVID 19”.
Dr. Da Costa said the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, and Government on the other hand has promised to initiate ‘wellness clinics’ as one of the key methods to early detect NCDs with the aim of institutionalising ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach to support curative healthcare delivery.
In an exclusive interview with myjoyonline.com, Dr. Da Costa said “This programme will provide a platform for every Ghanaian to check their health status at least once a year. This data will be linked to the National Health Insurance data and it will help us in reducing the Non-Communicable Diseases before the next epidemic.” This will also help to reduce the high disease burden cost of NHIS.
“The media should help educate and encourage Ghanaians to do regular exercise; to eat our local foods as well as eat more fruits and vegetables have enough rest and avoid stress” he urged.
In his concluding remarks, Dr. Da costa urged the chiefs and opinion leaders to play their part by engaging with various groups in their catchment areas to educate them on COVID-19 while also providing leadership to help fight this pandemic through community-based education, intervening in situations where tenants are being ejected or spouse/partner have been abandon because they contracted COVID 19 and help fight stigma and empower survivors of COVID- 19.