I received a number of emails and phone calls in reaction to my last article. I received commendation from a number of Ghanaians who read the article. I also received severe bashing from some people who disagreed with portions of my article to the extent that I was branded an NDC person for commending the Mr Mahama for his role in the covid-19 fight. Covid-19, has really come to change the world. But let me begin this article with this quote by Katherine Dunn : “the truth is always an insult or a joke, lies are generally tastier. We love them. The nature of lies is to please. The truth has no concern for anyone’s comfort” end of quote.
Your success as a leader will always depend on your skills, ability and knowledge in planning, followed closely by control. If you are a leader, much of your time should be spent in strategic planning. Strategic plans are the basis of a major battle or entire war. The continent of Africa was late in catching the virus, with a second case in Africa recorded in Algeria only at the end of February. Currently the only model available to our government is restricting movement and making sweet promises to Ghanaians, but this approach has misfired spectacularly in some countries.
As of March 31, Africa had nearly 5,300 cases, a small number for a big continent, but implementing testing has still been slow, which can lead to the virus spreading further. After weeks of precious few samples taken, significant shipments of test kits and suppliers donated by the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma are being distributed across Africa now. It is believed that with increasing testing, numbers will rise.
Almost from the onset of the health emergency, the W.H.O had warned of the risk that Covid-19 could spread to countries with weaker systems including in Sub Sahara Africa, where poor sanitation facilities, the proliferation of informal economy and Urban crowding pose additional challenge in the efforts to combat the highly infectious disease. Some healthcare worker were terrified of contracting the virus, citing lack of PPEs, sanitisers and other equipments in their hospitals.
Members of the government’s coronavirus task force typically devoted few minutes, often at the end of their contentious meetings, to talk about testing and other important matters. They were more interested in suppressing the numbers to protect the government’s image than furnishing the public with the information available to keep them alert and well informed. But as the deadly virus spread from China with ferocity across the continent, large scale testing of people and effective contact tracing of infected people did not happen because of technical flaws, bureaucracies, lack of logistics and lack of leadership at multiple levels. The result was a lost month, when the first sub Sahara’s first independent country, armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists, squandered its chance of containing the virus’s spread.
I have been following discussions on the government’s latest package announced by the President yesterday. The President deserves commendation. But I will still advise Ghanaians and our health experts to take a second look at the measures recommended by Mr Mahama and some of the suggestions from the NDC Covid-19 team. Already, economists and global health experts have called on G20 leaders to provide trillions of dollars to poorer countries to shore up ailing healthcare systems and economies. Joseph Stieglitz, Nicolas Stern and others have already written to the G20 to warn of unimaginable health and social impact as coronavirus rips through the developing world, taking overburdened healthcare systems beyond breaking point, and causing economic and social devastation.
This is not the time for populism and showmanship. Ghana and other developing countries are likely to be hit harder than the rich states, since we still have less capacity to absorb the shock and overcrowding, infrastructure deficit and lack of adequate resources to hamper public health efforts. We must take advantage of the situation to immediately tackle challenges facing our healthcare system. That is why i requested that our health experts take a second look at the recommendations made by the former President. We don’t need vote winning measures which cannot survive another pandemic or epidemic. Few years ago, we saw how Ebola virus ravaged West Africa. Between April and October 2014, the United Nations had to mobilise fund to contain the virus. Lacking adequate funding, hospitals did not have enough beds or isolation treatment units for all of the victims. Still contagious infected bodies were dumped in the streets in some African countries. These are what we must avoid as a people. Recognising this risk, W H.O Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus requested $675 million to prepare weak health systems to cope with Covid-19. Some African leaders and their cronies have already planned how they going to misuse funds from the world bank and other institutions. Some will channel the funds into projects which have nothing to do with the Covid-19.
Viruses move faster than governments or fundraisers. Our best chance of minimising the risks from outbreaks now and the future is to ensure that our healthcare system is improved, emergency relief fund is always available, healthcare personnel are adequately provided for and improve our infrastructure base. Prevention beats treatment. A number of media commentators initially argued that Africa might be shielded from the worst of Covid-19 and several still maintain this stance. Some of our leaders bought into these misinformation and myth. They failed to act swiftly.
According to the President, “we are about to enter a critical phase of our fight in the coming week, as the Ghana Health Service is due to receive the result of some fifteen thousand, three hundred and eighty four (15,384) out of 19,276 persons who have been reached through contact tracing. The President stated categorically that, it is the results of these tests that will determine our future course of action. So why the jubilation? Why the misinformation and twisting of facts? Why isn’t the media interested in finding out from the President how his government is going to handle the new measures.
I honestly think, the former President’s superior measures deserve our attention and consideration. Time to put extreme partisan politics behind us and focus on on our country’s reconstruction agenda.
My love for my party The New Patriotic Party remains the same – but my love for my country and interest in matters concerning Ghana have moved deeper because of the situation mother Ghana finds herself presently.
Eugenia Akua Koomson