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Ghana's Health Sector Unions Calls on Government to Strictly Enforce COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Dr Frank Ankobea, President of GMA

The Health Sector Unions have called on the government of Ghana to ensure regular provision of adequate PPE to all health workers to curb the rate of infection among its members.

Government, they said, must also re-define its classification of Front Line Health Workers to include all health workers; ensure strict enforcement of all COVID-19 safety protocols without fear or favour.

The Unions also called on government to expand COVID-19 testing centers and their capacities throughout the country together with readily available test kits to prevent undue delays in obtaining the results as well as establish Functional Infection, Prevention and Control (Safety) Committees in all health facilities.

According to the Unions the rising infection rates among health workers in the country has a grave tendency of stifling the efforts to curtail the spread of the virus.

Dr Frank Ankobea, the President of Ghana Medical Association (GMA), made the call at a joint Health Sector Unions' press conference in Accra on Thursday.

The Health Sector Unions are GMA, Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA), Health Sector Workers' Union (HSWU), and Government and Hospital Pharmacists Association (GHOSPA).

Dr Ankobea said as at June 30, over 770 health workers had contracted the virus in line of duty with a total of nine deaths.

"A large number of health workers are also currently in isolation awaiting their test results after having been exposed to the virus at their places of work.

According to Dr. Akobea , the rising infection rate among health workers is a matter of grave concern because it negatively affects staffing levels and results in mounting work pressure on the few health workers at post.

"If this trend persists, there would virtually be just a few health workers available to attend to patients even asCOVID-19cases in Ghana keeps rising”.

Dr Ankobea said: "The major causes of this unacceptably high rate of infections among health workers could be attributed to inadequate and erratic supply of PPE to health workers both in quantity and quality.

Others include general breakdown or non-adherence to infection prevention and control protocols in most facilities together with shortages or complete lack of disinfecting agents in some facilities.

Dr Ankobea also mentioned the breakdown or inadequate contract tracing within facilities; lack of designated holding bays for suspected cases in some facilities; delay in closure of wards or wards for disinfection after exposure toCOVID-19patients, and apparent disregard of the safety protocols by some health workers and patients who visit health facilities as major causes.

Mrs Perpetual Ofori -Ampofo, the President of GRNMA, reiterated the need for government to re-visit its definition of Front Line Health Workers and bring it down to cover all health facilities.

She said those health workers who contracted the virus were not those at the treatment centers, rather those who are not classified under "Front line Health workers".

Mrs Ofori-Ampofo urged the public to take the safety protocols seriously to help curtail the spread of the virus and save lives.

"We all have a responsibility, we all have a role to play if we are to return to normal," she said, adding that "we are all in this together....we are all stakeholders, so let's work together to help curb the spread ofCOVID-19".

Mr Reynolds O. Tenkorang, the General Secretary of HSWU, said those doing the treatment are well protected leaving the orderly and hospital securities and other health workers who meet patients first before they are prepared for treatment.

Touching on education, he said the effort was inadequate and advocated the use of information vans to show evidence of those who are suffering and are dying from the virus to change peoples' mindset.

Mr Nathan Coompson, Chairman of GHOSPA, said: "As a nation and as people, we are becoming complacent.COVID-19is real and we must ensure that we all adheres to the safety protocols".

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