Dr Francis Chisaka Kasolo, the WHO Country Representative, has warned Ghanaians to take the COVID-19 pandemic serious, saying the virus was still around and continue to spread among communities.
He therefore encouraged individuals to take personal responsibility over their lives, hence the need for all to strictly observe all the public health protocols, saying “handwashing for instance, is not only for the prevention of COVID-19, but also for stopping contamination from other infectious diseases”.
Dr Kasolo gave the caution in Accra on Friday, when he presented 9,580 quantity of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) medical equipment valued at GH¢ 2,132,000 to the Ministry of Health (MOH) to support Ghana’s efforts towards quality health care delivery.
The equipment included ventilators, air compressors and accessories, Adult and paediatric pulse Oximeters and their accessories, Venturi masks for both adult and paediatric use, Nasal Oxygen Cannula with prongs for adult and paediatric, Oxygen, Concentrator Kit spare parts, Hand sanitisers, coveralls, Gum boots and shoe covers.
Dr Kasolo said the COVID-19 pandemic had shone a light on inequalities between countries and that amid shortages of essential supplies, African countries had been pushed to the back of the queue in accessing COVID-19 test kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and now vaccines.
He said there were also inequalities within countries, discrimination based on gender, place of residence, income, educational level, age, ethnicity and disability intersect to the disadvantage vulnerable populations.
He said to “improve this situation, we need to act on the social and economic determinants of health by working across sectors to improve living and working conditions, and access to education, particularly for the most marginalized groups”.
He stressed that communities needed to be engaged as partners, through their networks and associations, to shape and drive health and development interventions.
Dr Kasolo further advocated for the enhanced investment to accelerate progress towards Universal Health Coverage, to protect individuals from financial hardship in accessing needed care and to improve service coverage.
He commended Ghana for initiating reforms in these areas to help build more resilient health systems and societies and pledged the WHO’s commitment to ensuring that all people in Africa and globally, could realise the right to good health.
Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health thanked the WHO for its sustained support to Ghana since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and narrated how the country had navigated through the height of the times till now.
He said although the active cases of COVID-19 were now dropping compared to what pertained during the early part of the year, “we are not yet out of the woods and we cannot let our guards down,” as other countries had already experiencing a third wave of infections.
Mr Agyeman-Manu, however said vaccine nationalism and equity anticipated was becoming very real as countries were unable to secure the medicines even with money in hand.
He explained that although government started its high-level diplomatic engagement early, it was not yielding much fruit as the COVAX facility set up to ensure vaccine equity in distribution was facing serious challenges and pressure from some powerful countries.
He appealed to the Country Director to relate the information to the WHO Director-General to ensure effective action to reverse the trend.