03 Feb Ghana: Department for International Development – Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (Dfid-Fdco) Supports the Strengthening of Covid-19 Response in Ghana
Covid-19, a disease caused by the SARS coronavirus-2 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020., Ghana recorded its first two cases on March 12, 2020. As at November 1 2020, Ghana had recorded 48, 643 confirmed cases with 320 deaths.
The Government of Ghana, under the strong leadership and commitment of the President, His excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, responded quickly by instituting public health and social measures. Key among these public health measures was the strategy of ‘Trace, Test and Treat’ aimed at controlling the pandemic.
Prompt diagnosis of infected persons through testing is crucial in management and policy decisions and forms a key component in Ghana’s COVID-19 Strategic Response Plan.
The WHO through funding by the government of the United Kingdom (Department for International Development now part of Foreign Commonwealth Development Office) provided essential laboratory equipment, reagents, test and sample collection kits to boost the diagnostic capacity of the country. At a time when most African countries were battling with how to conduct COVID-19 PCR testing Ghana had famously become known for its ‘pooling strategy’ to COVID-19 testing. Currently, the country can boast of 17 sites with capacity to conduct COVID-19 PCR testing.
This support has markedly improved the testing capacity and turnaround time for COVID-19 testing. As at November 12020, 541,153 tests had been conducted, making Ghana one of the countries in the WHO Africa region with the most tests per 100,000 population.
Given that the majority of infected persons are asymptomatic and transmission of the virus is silent, healthcare workers are at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus in their daily routine or whiles caring for COVID-19 cases. It is therefore important to reduce and mitigate their risk through appropriate education on Infection Prevention and Control in the context of COVID-19. Since the outbreak, Greater Accra region has consistently had the highest burden of COVID-19 cases.
The WHO through funding from the DFID, provided financial and technical support to the Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate to train health staff in health facilities in districts within Greater Accra most affected by COVID-19 on Infection Prevention and Control practices related to COVID-19.
As a result of this support, 40 clinical staff have been trained as trainer of trainers to cascade the knowledge acquired within their facilities. A further 1,922 clinical staff and 806 non-clinical staff across the different levels of healthcare facilities have developed capacity and skills to practice and implement effective IPC measures to minimize the risk of transmission of coronavirus.
To reduce the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, the government of Ghana has embarked on a phased lifting of the social measures initially instituted. This has led to the re-opening of Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport on September 1, 2020.
In anticipation of re-opening of the remaining Points of Entry (PoEs), the WHO with funding from DFID is providing technical and financial support to the Ghana Health Service to develop Public Health Emergency Contingency Plans, train staff at the various WHO designated PoEs, engage in education and sensitization on COVID-19 for communities around these PoEs with the aim of reducing the risk of importation of cases and propagation of community transmission.