The Akufo-Addo insensitivity on display yet again – Leaves Rural Population in Ghana defenceless against COVID-19 threat

With at least 7 confirmed Corvid-19 cases and our poor contact tracing mechanism, concerns are being raised about Ghana’s preparedness to combat the deadly coronavirus. Coronavirus scare has kept our health ministry, Ghana Health Service on their toes. Some government propagandists say our villages are safe the deadly virus and that the epidemic is mostly spreading in cities.

While it is true that the villages in the country have not reported any case of the Covid- 9 so far, but if it spreads like an epidemic (God forbid), can our rural public healthcare manage?

Rural population (% of total population) in Ghana was reported at 48.94 percent in 2018 according to the world bank collection of development indicators which was compiled from official sources. A study has also shown that the number of hospital beds is very low, and the current administration has not shown enough commitment to increasing key resources and infrastructure. The Mahama administration invested hugely in the health sector – new hospitals were built across the country, some existing ones were rehabilitated, polyclinics were built and chps compounds were also built to serve our rural enclaves. In spite of these initiatives, medical equipment and logistics are generally inadequate for enormous number of patients that access the health service. Transportation and communication also pose enormous challenge throughout the country. This leads to delay in getting to our healthcare facilities with the situation more terrible in the rural areas. Of the total hospital beds in the government hospitals, very few are in the rural areas. The rural-urban divide is crystal clear here. On average, Ghana has one bed for over 1000 people in government hospitals. The ratio is more terrible in our rural areas. This means that the queue for getting a bed in rural areas would be three to four times longer than in urban areas.

Like the beds syndrome, data on doctors and nurses portray a similar picture of rural Ghana. The pressure of handling patients in rural Ghana is twice as much as the national average. The doctor to patient ratio in Ghana is terrible. In our rural areas, one doctor is available for thousands of people.

The President’s directive that all schools must close beginning last Monday, affects schools in our rural communities. But do our people in the rural areas including the pupils and students understand why that directive was given and have they been fed with adequate information about the virus?. Given the percent of our population in our rural enclaves and the appalling state of health facilities in these areas, the people face the danger of a rapid spread of this lethal Virus. Cocoa is still the mainstay of the economy. Cocoa and other products produced by our farmers in the rural areas give us substantial portion of our foreign exchange. Government build infrastructure, pay salary of workers etc from revenue generated from sale of these projects. But so far, the Akufo-Addo government has not come out with a comprehensive policy or programme to protect our rural folks against the deadly disease. All the policies, precautionary measures and programmes to combat the spread of the disease are city centered. Government is going to waste over $150 million on the compilation of a new register when our rural folks are wailing for basic social amenities such as hospitals, clinics and potable water. How many of the chemical shops in our rural areas sell hand sanitizer? Most of the drugs being sold to our rural folks have expired. Who told the President and his propagandists that the the virus cannot hit our rural enclaves? Do they know where the contacts they tracing live? Some of our rural folks travel to the cities everyday and some come for medical checkup in the cities. Some of them bring their products to this cities, sell them and return to their villages. All these people can be infected by the virus. Government bears enormous responsibility for this massive social polarisation, and the danger that countless thousands of our rural folks could fall victims to the deadly virus.

The Health sector in the country is organized in three main levels, national, regional and district. Health intervention are packaged for each level and are delivered at the respective clinics and hospitals. At the district level, the sub district services incorporate the community health delivery. The Mahama administration built new hospitals in some of the regions, renovated some existing regional and district hospitals,built new district hospitals, teaching hospitals, polyclinics, chps compounds to enable all Ghanaians including our hardworking rural people have direct access to medical help and to integrate prevention, promotion and curative services of health intervention. The Akufo-Addo government deliberately abandoned the uncompleted health facilities for cheap political reasons. Hospital beds in our rural areas is very low, medical equipment and logistics generally inadequate for the number of patients who access health services in our rural areas yet, government is wasting billions of cedis on unnecessary ventures.

I don’t know how paying millions of the taxpayers money to celebrities to joke about the coronavirus pandemic is going to benefit our rural folks. Why not using the money going to wasted on these celebrities to establish information centres in our rural areas to educate them on the disease on other important matters. Why not using the money to entice medical officers and personnel to work in our rural areas, purchase equipments for the clinics and other health facilities in these areas. Our university students have moved to their homes as a result of the President’s directives, why not recruiting them to support the health ministry in its information dissemination and contact tracing. Why not recruiting more nurses and health assistants to support the covid-19 fight?

This government has deceived our rural folks enough. It is time it moves away from its deceitful rhetoric.

Source: Ohenenana Obonti Krow 

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