A Member of Parliament’s Health Committee, Dr Sebastian Ngmenenso Sandaare, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Daffiama/Bussie/Issa (DBI) constituency in the Upper West Region has criticised the Government over what he described as its “poor handling” of the Coronaviru outbreak in Ghana.
According to him, the number of infected persons in the country could have been averted if the government had heeded the advise of experts who called for a comprehensive preventive plan backed by openeness and effective risk communication to the citizens.
Dr Sandaare, made this observation in an exclusive interview with The Republic in parliament on Monday May 18, 2020.
Despite the numerous press conferences by the Government, the lawmaker is of the view that government has not handled the outbreak with the seriousness that it deservess.
In his considered view, the increasing number of positive cases in the country visa-vis the number of recoveries, all boil down to poor and ineffective risk communication management on the part of the government.
Dr Sandaare said, the best comprehensive plan that was introduced by the previous government during the Ebola outbreak on the African continent has been overlooked by the current government, stressing that, to date, there is no clear form of communication structure for the health sector to rural folks on the COVID-19.
He found it very problematic understanding why the government believes the Coronavirus pandemic is only an Accra and Kumasi issue and not a national problem.
“All communication on this pandemic is only in Accra or Kumasi, it will surprise you, there are people in the rural areas who don’t have any form of access to information on Radio, not to talk of Television,” he stated.
For instance, he said, if the government was serious about fighting the COVID-19 like it is with other countries, health workers at rural communities should have been engaged to move to all areas with the involvement of Assembly members, Chiefs, opinion leaders, teachers among others to educate and sensitise the populace about the dangers and how to prevent it.
The MP explained that in the midst of a pandemic like Coronavirus, the government should have make citizens understand the problem or the risk involved and that when they are made to understand and be part of the problem solving chain, the chances of fighting the pandemic to the minimum is very high.
Currently, Ghana has recorded over 5,735 cases of the deadly virus, with 29 deaths and about 1,754 recoveries as at Monday May 18, 2020.
Beside the ban on public gathering and operation of drinking bars and other social activities, the government has also placed mandatory wearing of face masks as part of measures to stop the spread of the COVID-19 in the country.
Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has also encouraged Ghanaians, especially those who could afford, to buy the masks for their families and friends as well as the vulnerable who might not be able to buy any.
But Dr. Sandaare said the Health Minister has failed Ghanaians in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic fight as he (minister) has not demonstrated any seriousness towards the problem.
He said, the sector Minister in his style of communication to Ghanaians simply proved he is not serious, stating that “the Minister appeared to be a Joker, he does sound as a joker in his attempt to communicate to the people and many people will not take him serious.”
The lawmaker said despite the assurance by the sector Minister to provide a transparent and comprehensive plan to parliament upon request by the Minority, the government is yet to come up with any tangible plan for the citizens unlike other countries that have been ravaged by the COVID-19.
Asked what he has been able to do to minimise the risk in his constituency, Dr Sandaare said, Daffiama/Bussie/Issa is one of the Districts that has reported at least a case of the Coronavirus in the country and he has joined health officials in the District to educate and sensitised the residents.
He added that, he had also made some donation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to health institutions and as well provided face masks to communities in addition to Veronica buckets and hand sanitizers.
The MP, however, called on the government to provide free face masks to citizens, especially at the entrance of public and private institutions for people who don’t have it.
“Instead of arresting people for not wearing face masks, the government should rather supply the face masks free and put them at the entrance of banks, hospitals, and other places. So if you get there and you don’t have one, they can give you there free. The Minister said the face masks is not expensive, but don’t forget there are people or families in this country who cannot even get one cedi a week,” the lawmaker emphasised.
Source: Felix Ensilege Nyaaba || The Republic