An Open Letter to the President of the Republic of Ghana from Lawyer Samuel Adu Yeboah, Cape Coast, Central Region.
29th March, 2020
Central Region is in Difficult Times: Demonstrate Leadership Now or we Perish from the Scourge of Covid-19
My lenses caught up with several front line healthcare workers from various districts of the Central region in Cape Coast on Thursday 26th March 2020 in the early hours of the day.
I engaged scores of them to ascertain their mission in Cape Coast. I was thrown into deep shock upon hearing that they were drawn to Cape Coast as members of district level rapid response teams for Covid-19 to participate in a two-day orientation (ToT) workshop on Covid-19.
Shocked to the marrow, I made follow up calls and it came to light that members from the two Agona districts (Agona West and East) were scheduled to be trained on Tuesday 31st March, 2020 and Wednesday 1st April, 2020.
Mr President, the tone and spirit of the circular inviting the district level teams for training almost swept me off my feet.
I would want to quote portions of the circular I cited inviting staff from various districts for the workshop which was authored and signed by the Regional Director of Health Services Dr. Mrs Akosua Agyeiwaa Owusu Sarpong, for emphasis sake Mr. President. “Snacks and Lunch will be provided for all participants and their drivers for the two-day training. However, District Directors and Medical Directors / Superintendents are kindly requested to support their participants with accommodation and transport for this all important training.”
Your Excellency, from the foregoing, it means that :
- Not a single healthcare worker at the district hospitals, polyclinics, healthcentres or CHPS Compounds have received training in the efforts to contain this deadly and ravaging coronavirus disease. This is so because the Regional Health Directorate is now organising “Training of Trainers’ workshop” for district level rapid response teams.
They have been left to their fate with reckless abandon and this does not only put the lives of these enterprising healthcare workers at risk, but endangers the entire population and undermines the collective fight against the disease.
- Few facilities if any, have received support from the government in terms of logistics (Personal Protective clothings & medical supplies) to help fight this deadly disease. The healthcare workers must be protected and the earlier you deploy resources to them, the better. The plight of our people in central region is not different from the unsavoury stories of abject neglect by the government from other regions.
I wonder when district level training for healthcare workers in various health facilities will be carried out since there seems to be no earmarked funds for this purpose.
Mr President, you will recall that District Directors and Medical Superintendents were directed to partly finance (accommodation and transport) the cost of training for their district based rapid response teams. This goes to say that financing the training of district based staff after the regional training will encounter greater difficulties which will further delay the transfer of skills and knowledge on Covid-19 to healthcareworkers at the facility level, a development that is very injurious to the fight against Covid -19.
- I wish to humbly remind you that health facilities in the central region are in dire need of funds since the National Health Insurance Scheme is indebted to service providers for at least 9 months. This has rendered the health facilities insolvent and will be unable to procure PPEs from their new own resources. It is therefore of urgent need that you immediately see to the supply of all essential logistics to health facilities in the region.
Your Excellency, while I was recovering from the hurts of the above ordeals you have meted out to the people of central region, I chanced upon another circular that detailed out health facilities earmarked as holding areas or treatment centres in various districts of the region. Mr. President, a cursory look at the document depicts the state of unpreparedness of the earmarked facilities for the purpose they were intended for as the inscription “need logistics to fully function as treatment centres.” is boldly written against the facilities designated as treatment centres.
This is not only disgraceful and a dent on your reputation regards the fight against this pandemic. It is also a mark of cluelessness, if at this point government has failed to make available the essential logistics needed to make designated covid-19 treatment centres fully functional. This is a blot on your integrity Your Excellency.
It’s important therefore to note that not only are healthcare workers in central region not trained on the protocols for Covid-19 surveillance and management. The earmarked holding areas and treatment centres are also not in shape and woefully unfit for purpose. What will be the fate of the region when we start recording cases?
Mr President, I would want to draw your attention to the lackadaisical attitude of your representatives in the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies in the region. They occupy sensitive positions as Chairmen of the District level Public Health Emergency Teams. They have neglected their responsibilities towards their citizens with jaundiced impudence under the guise of non-availability of funds.
Mr. President, your representatives at the assemblies claim you have not remitted to them their shares of the District Assemblies’ Common fund and hence they are not in good financial positions to assist the fight against Covid-19.
At this point, I appeal to you to order the minister of finance to immediately disburse the district assembly common fund as well as ensure the payment of all claims owed health facilities by the National Health Insurance Scheme. This will at least make the assemblies and health facilities solvent and able to assist in their small ways towards the fight against Covid -19.
Mr President, be adequately reminded that difficult times like this demands drastic measures and extraordinary leadership. I noticed with deep chagrin your alms begging approach to fundraising to assist the fight against coronavirus. This is a lousy and impotent approach and be reminded that the destiny of this country in such moments can’t be hinged on charitable and philanthropic gestures from individuals. Just as you expedited the passage of a restriction bill, prudent leadership dictates that you sponsor a public health emergency funding bill that seeks to tax the citizenry a certain amount to raise revenue to combat this deadly pandemic. At least this will offer a more pragmatic and sustainable financing mechanism to deal with the coronavirus menace.
Finally Mr. President, I have stumbled upon a letter issued by the minister of health offering special life insurance cover for Ten Thousand Health personnel and Allied Health professionals helping the fight against Covid -19. In as muchas this is a welcome news, I would want to submit respectfully that the insurance gesture is extended to cover all healthcare workers. In times like this, there seems to be a default discriminatory mechanism that always put staff at the lower levels and the hinterlands at a disadvantage of benefitting from such offers. The fight against Covid-19 is a universal and collective battle by all health workers and hence all must be recognised and rewarded accordingly. I humbly submit that the insurance cover must include gatemen and cleaners of health facilities because not only are they essential team members in the healthcare enterprise. They are also not spared the risk associated of transmission associated with coronavirus.
Your Excellency, I wish you well in all your endeavours and I hope this epistle finds you in good health. I wait with baited breath to see you act with the speed of light in ensuring that the people of central region and Ghana as a whole see and enjoy seasoned and unblemished leadership under your stewardship of our land as President Happy Belated Birthday.
Samuel Adu Yeboah (Esq )