Some 779 health staff in Ghana have tested positive for COVID-19, a joint press statement issued by the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), the Government Hospital Pharmacists, the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association and the Health Sector Workers Union has said.At a press conference today, the health groups noted that the alarming rate of infection among its members could have an adverse impact on the country’s health system giving their frontline role in the fight against the pandemic, a situation theydescribe as an unacceptable.
With Ghana’scase count now at 23,463,the groups are asking their members to strictly obverse the infection prevention and control protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
According to them, inadequate supply of PPE, lack of disinfecting agents and a failure by the government to provide holding bays at various health facilities, are some of the major factors contributing to the surge in cases among their members.
President of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr Frank Ankobea, who addressed the media on behalf of the groups, said:“As of 30 June 2020, over seven hundred and seventy-nine (779) health workers had contracted the COVID-19 virus in the line of duty with a total of nine (9) deaths having occurred so far. 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.”
“The data gathered so far indicates that 190 members of the GMA (Doctors) have contracted the virus with 4 unfortunate deaths. 410 members of the GRNMA and its Allied Associations (Nurses and Midwives) have contracted the virus with 1 unfortunate death. 156 members of the HSWU have contracted the virus with 3 unfortunate deaths. 23 members of the GHOSPA have contracted the virus with 1 unfortunate death,” he said.
He added that the non-disclosure or concealment of information from health workers by facility managers when colleagues test positive for COVID-19 at workplaces, as well as the delay in receipt of COVID-19 test results of patients being managed in wards, conspire to increase the risk of health workers getting infected.
The health groups also urged the government to solve pertinent challenges such as shortage or inadequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, in particular.
Other challenges listed include the periodic shortage or non-availability of essential drugs for case management as well as inadequate intensive care unit (high dependency units) or a complete lack of same in a lot of regions in the country.
The rest of their concerns include inadequate human resource for specialist care, reduced testing capacity in the midst of the increasing daily case count as well as long delays in getting test results for patients (some up to 3 weeks or more).
The health groups recommended regular provision of adequate PPE for all health workers at all times and the intensification of COVID-19 preventive and stigma education among the general public.
Also, they want the government, through the security agencies, to ensure strict enforcement of all COVID-19 safety protocols without fear or favour and have also demanded transparent and adequate dissemination of information to exposed health workers whose colleagues have tested positive for COVID-19 at the workplace.
Furthermore, they want an expansion of the capacity of COVID-19 testing centres throughout the country together with readily available test kits to prevent undue delays in obtaining test results.
They also want the government to ensure that test results are available within 24 to 48 hours and all health facilities must mandatorily create holding bays to detain all patients who are suspected to have contracted COVID-19.
Also, Functional Infection, Prevention and Control Committees must be available in all facilities.