The General Manager of the Health Services Department of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Dr. Vitus Victor Anaab-Bisi has revealed that GPHA will in the month of February 2021 begin testing for COVID-19 at its health facilities.
Speaking on Eye on Port, the Head of the Medical Services Department of GPHA, revealed that the initiative is an effort to bolster the Authority’s available resources in gatekeeping of the country’s ports against the importation and spread of the virus and also contribute towards reducing the burden on the already overstretched testing centers in the country.
He said the decision to acquire the necessary testing infrastructure and systems has also been necessitated by the overwhelming positive cases of the coronavirus being recorded within the Authority’s health facilities as well as nationwide.
Dr. Anaab-Bisi also said GPHA’s Health Services will deploy the testing systems similar to what is being used at the airport to control movement in and out of the country, and this would be very instrumental during crew change activities for vessels that come and leave Ghana’s ports for business.
“Don’t forget we are also a point of entry just like the airport. So we are looking at putting in place the antigen test, just like it is done at the airport, which is a screening method that can be done for a lot of numbers. Then if you want to do a confirmation test by the PCR, then you go do that. But it is equally good,” he explained.
He said the commencement of testing at its own facilities will mitigate the problem of lagging results experienced since the pandemic intensified within the country.
The seasoned medical doctor indicated that this would not only help inefficient case management but will go a long way to benefit the Port Authority in its operational efficiency.
“If a staff gets infected we have to run contact tracing of the department and close relatives. When samples are taken, you have to go home and wait for about one week before the results are ready. In that case, the Authority is losing economic manpower hours,” he articulated.
Dr. Anaab-Bisi praised GPHA’s Management for being prudent in their dealings with the COVID-19, citing their readiness to make the necessary investments very early in 2020 despite having a tight budget.
“The Authority did not relent, even though they did not have a budget for it. They gave us all that we asked for,” he emphasized.
He said the efforts by GPHA went a long way not only to provide sufficient personal protective equipment but also provided adequate sensitization of the port community to brace themselves in the wake of the pandemic.
The General Manager of the Health Services Department of GPHA said the Port Authority has also been very apt in its policy direction with respect to activities in and around the port environment to ensure that the ports and personnel and stakeholders in the port community remain safe.
“The seaports never shut down the entire period of last year and has been opened to business. Seamen were not allowed to come out of their vessels. If they are not sick, they remained on their vessels while the goods were discharged,” he cited.
He said in the event of infected persons within the port community, effective case management, contact tracing, and treatment was applied by his outfit in collaboration with key stakeholders such as the Port Health Unit of the Ghana Health Service.
Dr. Vitus Victor Anaab-Bisi said the commitment of the Authority, as well as its strong coordination with the various institutions in the port community, has contributed to zero death counts among the staff of the Authority, despite recording some significant positive cases.