Alex Segbefia is a member of the NDC's Technical Covid-19 team

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Tuesday, March 24 held a press conference to outline some key issues that according to the party can aide in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

The party’s Covid-19 Technical team, outdoored by its flagbearer, former President John Mahama, also proposed some measures that can be implemented by government in the wake of the increasing spread of the disease.

Currently, Ghana has confirmed 53 cases with two deaths.

Find the summary of the presentations by the members of the Technical Team below:

  1. The technical team proposed that government use proceeds from the recent $3 billon Eurobond (i.e part of the $1 billion ring-fence amount meant for the restructuring of the energy sector) as funding for the management of the crises instead of waiting for a loan from the IMF/World Bank which may take months.
  2. Given the fact that the surest way to win the fight against the novel COVID-19 pandemic is through transparency and aggressive public education that is based on timely and accurate information, the technical team proposed that government adopts scheduled, daily live updates (and not recorded updates) through which the nation will be given accurate information on the pandemic.
  • The technical team requested government to provide accurate information on:

A) How far government has gone in securing test kits for the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research.

B) How many PPE’s we currently have, how far we have come in procuring more PPE’s and when exactly they will be made available to our front line health workers.

C) The number of medical staff who have been trained and at what specific level, as well as how many more medical staff are left to be trained.

D) The role of the NCCE in the fight against the pandemic and what specific help they have received from government in terms of logistics to help them do better and quicker public education.

E) The role of NADMO and how government is resourcing them to help in the fight against the pandemic.

F) How many quarantine centers we have nationwide, where they are located and their capacity. Also, the number of personnel we currently have in our quarantine centers and and the specific resources they have received from government so far.

G) The number of isolation centers we have nationwide, their location and capacity. Also, the number of personnel who are staffing the centers and what clinical services we have available at those facilities.

  1. On Community Impact Mitigation Strategies, the technical team suggested the following practical solutions:

A) That, government puts in place adequate measures to ensure compulsory supervised hand washing for all passengers and regular hand washing for all drivers. And ensure disinfection of doors and seats especially before and after passengers have been transported.

B) That, government provides an incentive scheme with enforcement for trotro drivers to decrease the number of passengers they carry in order to satisfy the laid out social distancing requirements.

C) That, government puts in place a shift system established with the input of the Drivers’ unions and welfare associations to minimize the number of drivers congregating in any given station at a time.

D) That, government puts in place measures to manage the okada riding business in this period and ensure that it doesn’t become a means of transmission of the virus from person to person and area to area.

E) Given the fact that many homes in Ghana do not have indoor flush toilets, and residents still rely on the use of public places of convenience to respond to the call of nature, the technical team proposed that local government authorities undertake regular inspection of public toilets to ensure that they have Veronica buckets in place with soap and disinfectant for all persons to have mandatory supervised hand washing before and after using the bathrooms. And that areas experiencing water shortages must have water delivered on a daily basis with tankers or by other means.

F) That, since open defecation is still a major challenge in Ghana, government puts in place measures to ensure that in the event of greater restrictions being imposed on people, they are able to make use of public places of convenience free of charge.

G) That, government puts in place measures to ensure that the elderly and persons with comorbidities do not fall victim to the disease merely by their attendance to their hospitals or clinics for their routine checks. And that government must consider having outreach teams in the districts identify such patients and deliver them medications for a minimum period of 3 months.

H) That government ensures uninterrupted provision of crucial/essential services like water supply and power etc.

  1. Additionally, the technical team suggested that:

A) Government intensifies and expand testing by providing sufficient testing kits immediately.

B) Government establishes adequately prepared isolation centers in all regional hospitals and district health centers immediately.

C) Government establishes treatment centers in all regional hospitals and provide for the supply of adequate medication, sufficient medical personnel and testing kits. 

D) That, any recruitment and training of more medical staff should focus on the many unemployed young doctors and nurses in the country and not on retired practitioners. This is because retired practitioners by all standards fall under the category of high risk individuals.

E) That, government cannot presume that the closure of our air and sea ports and borders is sufficient defense against imported cases. This is because our land borders span nearly 2,500 kilometres hence hard to monitor. Our neighbors in all directions are struggling with COVID-19 and that means we must be extra-vigilant and intensify surveillance at our land borders.

F) That, Government provides for the immigration officers at our borders, PPEs, training, temperature guns, face masks etc. as well as establish temporary quarantine centres where port health officials will be stationed to work with immigration officers on suspected cases.

G) That, Government’s Technical Committee on COVID-19 be elevated into a Crisis Management Team, to reflect that it is no longer an ordinary technical committee but that it is a committee made up of representatives from all sectors of the nation to address the crisis that confronts us.

H) That government announces a clear a humane lockdown appropriate for our Ghanaian context immediately to avert an epidemic situation in the country.