Ghana is doing well in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), but like many other countries, it is not out of the woods yet. It has not been spared by the ravaging impact of the global pandemic with the country recording over 46,947 cases, with 303 deaths, 46,259 recoveries, and 382 active cases.
A survey carried out on the use of thermometer guns, wearing of facemask, hand washing, and practicing of social distancing by the Health Promotion Division of the Ghana Health Service showed that, adherence to the safety preventive protocols only exist in formal workplaces but these protocols are thrown to the dogs at our various communities, lorry terminals, market places just to among a few.
In an effort to increase compliance and adherence to the safety protocols, the Ministry of Information and Ghana Health Service have provided a one-day training and sensitization workshop for the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs. The workshop aimed to equip the chiefs and queen mothers to enable them to sensitize their subjects on community ownership of the COVID -19 preventive protocols. By this, the chiefs and queen mothers are to lead community-level education on Covid-19.
The workshop was chaired by his Royal Majesty Tumu-Kuoro Richard Babini Kanton VI, the President of Upper West Regional House of Chiefs.
In his opening remarks, Tumu-Kuoro Richard Babini Kanton 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. These he said have yielded positive results for Ghana with the Upper West Region currently having no case of COVID-19.
The Upper West Regional Minister, Hon. Dr. Hafiz Bin Sali remarked that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a great tow on Ghana and the world at large. Many economic activities have been disrupted and developed countries with powerful and sophisticated health systems have been overwhelmed. Nonetheless, the government of Ghana through innovation and exemplary leadership of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo intervened in an unprecedented manner to protect Ghanaians by putting in place effective measures including the COVID-19 safety protocols.
The workshop which was led by the Director of Health Promotion 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 safety protocols, Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), stigma, wellness clinics, and the role of chiefs and queen mothers in health promotion.
Dr. Da costa noted that the pandemic has not left us yet and although the Upper West Region currently has a no case of COVID-19, we must not be complacent.
“Having no restricted traveling within the country, one cannot tell when an infected person enters the Upper West Region. There is also no vaccine to protect us against this virus and as scientists are trying to understand the full picture of the pandemic, its symptoms, severity and to find a vaccine, our honourable chiefs and queen mothers must do their best to protect and sustain the gains made by the government by educating their subjects”.
On stigma, he narrated that the pandemic has provoked social stigma and discriminatory behaviours against infected persons, families, and communities. Thus, infected persons stand a risk of hiding their illnesses for fear of discrimination and stigma.
Dr. Da Costa further told the chiefs that “the future of Ghana’s Healthcare is Health Promotion and Prevention. Institutionalization of wellness centers across health facilities is the way to go as we tackle SDG 3. The Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, and Government on the other hand have promised to initiate a ‘wellness program’ by 2021 as one of the key methods to early detect NCDs 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 at least check their health status once a year. This data can be linked to the National Health Insurance scheme to assist profiling of health status of Ghanaians”. He thus tasked the media to help in educating Ghanaians to do regular exercise; to eat our local foods as well as eat more fruits and vegetables, have enough rest, and avoid stress.
In his concluding remarks, Dr. Da costa urged the chiefs and opinion leaders to play their role through engagement 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 or spouses are ejected because they contracted COVID-19 and help fight stigma and empower survivors of COVID- 19.
The Ministry of Information was represented by the Deputy Minister for Information Hon. Pius Enam Hadzida who in his remarks requested the revered chiefs to lead the rollout of community engagement and risk education strategy to deepen awareness of COVID-19.
Tumu-Kuoro Richard Babini Kanton VI, on behalf of the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs gifted a parcel to Dr Da costa for his teachings on COVID-19 to the house.