The Hon. Municipal Chief Executive Officer for the West Gonja Municipal assembly of the Savannah region, Saeed Muhazu Jibreel has on Monday 16th November, 2020, said the Coronavirus (Covid-19) brought massive changes in the socio-economic lives of the people in the area although there are no active Covid-19 cases in the municipality. The MCE cautioned that the second wave of the pandemic could be dangerous and called for strict adherence to the Covid-19 protocols to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
The MCE said this at a the Christian Health Association of Ghana(CHAG) monthly review Covid-19 Response Team meeting in Damongo, the Savannah regional capital.
The CHAG sponsored Covid-19 response team is a two (2) year project that will help the municipal assembly fight the pandemic. This project will also provide training to all Covid-19 workers in all the health facilities in the municipality.
The MCE at the monthly meeting explained that the Covid-19 pandemic and it’s response activities has brought with it changes in the socio-economic lives of the people of Ghana and the West Gonja municipality.
As of Monday, 16th November, 2020, the total confirmed cases in Ghana is 50,123, total recoveries 48,328, active cases 1,473, new cases 105 and sadly, 322 people died.
This, Mr Muhazu Jibreel said is an adequate warning of a possible second wave of the pandemic of which we need to be prepared for. He thanked the CHAG for the timely intervention.
Giving the current Covid-19 update of the municipality, the MCE said “we wish to note that the West Gonja municipality has so far recorded the following since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and its response activities.
158 total cumulative suspected cases have been recorded with a total of 128 accumulated cases tested. The total cumulative results receive is 128 and the total cumulative suspected cases not tested is 30. We have confirmed two (2) cases in the municipality with three (3) pregnant women suspected cases. One (1) hospital staff was exposed to Covid-19 and we also recorded one confirmed death case”.
There is currently no confirm or active cases of Covid-19 in the West Gonja municipality. There are however, 30 suspected cases yet to be tested, he added.
The turnaround time for laboratory result is between 5 to 60 days. The time duration is not good enough although we now have a testing center in Tamale.
Testing at the West Gonja Catholic Hospital has been suspended for the past 2 months because of the difficulty with submission of samples and poor turn overtime for results.
He assured that the Covid-19 pandemic treatment centre at the West Gonja Catholic Hospital is functional and open for any confirmed or suspected case that may require attention.
The staff at the hospital are well trained to handle mild-to-moderate cases.
On Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), he said there is considerable amount of PPE at the centre even though more are still required.
Hon. Muhazu Jibreel disclosed that as part of measures put in place to mitigate the spread of the virus, there will be training of all lower-level health personnel on screening and training of covid-19, sponsored by the CRIB project.
There will also, be monthly radio presentations on prevention of Covid-19, monthly updates of the people on Covid-19 response activities.
Hon Muhazu Jibreel however, warned that there is a likelihood of a second wave of Covid-19 as we see in other countries and therefore, encouraged all the residents of the municipality to conform to the national protocols of Covid-19 prevention, such as wearing of face masks, regular hand-washing, use of alcohol-based sanitizers, maintaining social distance in public places, avoiding handshakes, among others.
Welcoming team members to the monthly review meeting, the Medical Superintendent of the West Gonja Catholic Hospital, Dr Vitalis Sadaare explained that the CHAG sponsored program which is expected to run for the next two (2) years is very crucial in the fight against Covid-19.
He recalled that in February, 2020, following the first two confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ghana, the West Gonja Catholic Hospital constituted a response team, comprising three (3) Doctors, 12 Nurses, two (2) laboratory technicians, two (2) orderlies, a Health Educator and a Disease Control Officer.
This team embarked on some measures to curb the spread of the pandemic in the area.
The hospital’s Covid-19 Response Team (CRT) identified an isolation Ward and initiated modifications to be adapted to a standard Covid-19 treatment center. The team also instituted enhanced IPC practices, procured 15 extra Veronica buckets, hand sanitizers and carbolic soap, 1000 species of surgical face masks and four (4) infra-red thermometers.
The hospital team trained all staff on Covid-19 pandemic with specific emphasis on IPC, enhanced training for (OPD, main gate, ANC entrance, emergency Ward, maternity Ward etc).
All special clinics such as surgical, diabetes /hypertension were temporarily suspended to help mitigate the spread of the Covid-19. Patients were encouraged to have their refill as and when necessary to minimise the overcrowding on the clinic days.
All elective surgeries were counseled, with limitation of visitors to the hospital. The “No mask No entry” policy was implemented, public education and sensitization on measures taken at the hospital to curb the spread of the pandemic was carried out on weekly basis on PADFM 95.1mhz, a local community radio station in Damongo.
There were also public education on prevention of spread of coronavirus in general, this was done every Thursday on PAD FM, collaboration with the Municipal Public Health Emergency Response Committee of which the Medical Superintendent was a member and two (2) of the team members were involved in the regional training of all staff from various districts in the Savannah region.
Dr Sadaare disclosed that samples were initially being sent to KCCR in Kumasi for testing until late June, when the public health reference laboratory was upgraded to test for coronavirus in Tamale.
This however, did not change the turnaround time of 5 to 60 days for the results.
Dr Sadaare explained that the impact of Covid-19 on service delivery was much felt by the hospital.
The hospital suspended services such as Special Clinics and elective surgeries. This resulted in some complications such as strangulated/obstructed hernias and increase diabetic and hypertensive related complications due to poor follow-ups.
There is congestion currently in a single Ward because one of the adult wards has been converted into a coronavirus treatment centre.
There was also drastic reduction in general OPD attendance in April, May, June, and July with concomitant reduction in income.
Dr. Sadaare said the hospital procured various logistics towards response to Coronavirus. Some of these logistics include Veronica buckets, surgical face masks, hand sanitizers, gloves, and many others.
The hospital also received donations of similar logistics from individuals, groups and Organizations.
Since the outbreak, the hospital has trained all staff on Covid-19 and continuous capacity building for staff at the treatment centre.
During the admission and management of confirmed cases at the treatment center, all staff at the center was fed by the hospital throughout the period.
The hospital enjoyed constant collaboration with the Municipal Health Directorate and Municipal assembly in all Covid-19 response activities, the Municipal assembly has been supportive in the fight against Covid-19.
The hospital, with support from the Regional Health Directorate is currently constructing a washroom for a designated isolation area for the suspected cases and seeking support from the Savannah RCC through the Municipal assembly to construct isolation center for suspected cases.
Despite the above good works, the hospital is still faced with challenges.
The male medical/ surgical Ward at the hospital is converted to Covid-19 treatment centre and hence all male and female medical and surgical cases are currently being managed in a single ward, previously used for only female patients. This is creating a lot of inconvenience to both patients and staff. There is also congestion in the ward, defeating the purpose of Covid-19 response activities.
The ward for coronavirus is mainly for confirmed cases. However, there is no isolation area for suspected cases that are sick and require hospital care.
There is an urgent need to construct a ward for Covid-19 isolation and treatment which could be used as infectious disease ward even after Covid-19 pandemic is finally over.
There has been difficulty with access to testing.
Transportation of samples to Kumasi KCCR, Tamale testing center and delay in receiving results, which takes a turnaround time of 5 to 60 days is a major setback.
Some Staff at the treatment center are demoralized by the fact that they have not yet been paid the 50% basic Salary by government as Covid-19 allowance for frontline workers.
The Hospital’s new Administrator, Mr Ameyaw Frank Korsah, expressed gratitude to the health directorate, the municipal assembly and the Covid-19 Response Team for their good works so far. He called on the public to adhere to the Covid-19 protocols to limit it’s spread. Strong leadership is key to fighting Covid-19.
The training for Covid-19 staff will be “facility based training”, he added.
Hajia Fusheina, the Municipal Health Director, thanked partners and all stakeholders for their resolve to fight the pandemic and assured her outfits is always ready to work with the necessary stakeholders to improve on the health needs of the people.
Also in attendance were the West Gonja Municipal Coordinating Director, Philemon Ankorle, the Public Health Promotion Officer, Mahama Muhaideen.
Source: Padfmonline/ Abdulai Zulkaninu.