This is an opportunity for government to build sustainable water systems for these poor and vulnerable people in turn preventing waterborne diseases and reducing the number of hospital visits putting strain on our health system.
On the contrary, after recording 21 positive cases of COVID-19, experts say the number might rise in the coming weeks. It is alleged that the test kits are being sold. This is very sad and a big blow to the efforts of his Excellency the President and the entire nation. Why are testing kits for sale? If this is not supposed to be, I call on the Minister for Health to investigate and sanction those persons involved. We need to be ethical, compassionate and manifest integrity in this crises.
And so, marking World Water day on 22nd March, access to water should be a priority for government and many non-governmental organisations and encourage us to practice water conservation like taking at most a 5-minute shower or less (if using a full bucket reduce it), choose a plant-based meal, turn off sleeping tech, don’t throw away edible food, shop sustainably and plant trees. This will complement our efforts to get rid of COVID-19.
Additionally, I am in bewilderment as to why the prices of alcohol-based hand sanitisers skyrocketed. A friend at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told me how sad and angry she was when a sanitiser of 4 cedis was now priced at 25 cedis. This is absurd. I took to the market to find out and got the shock of my life. My fellow Ghanaians, why? This is not our way of life. It is unpatriotic to capitalise on a crisis such as this to make money. This is not morally right. Where did we learn this from? We must understand that it is the same people who cannot afford a 3 square meals a day, hustling in the markets and in our communities who have limited access and can end up picking the virus and pass it on to us. I am in awe as to why government appears mute on this particular matter. Do government not know that it has to protect the poor? Do they not know that what these traders are doing will derail our collective efforts? How do you practice equity at this point? Government must be proactive and show leadership by giving incentives to Ghanaian pharmaceutical companies to produce enough to beat the cutthroat market price.
Finally, I have watched, heard and amused by some religious folks in Ghana and Africa and have created a religious spin around this pandemic. It is with regretting that many well cultured and educated Ghanaians subscribe to this notion of healing corona virus with oils, water and prayers purported to be sacred and holy. What has these elements done to get rid of malaria, cholera, diabetes and HIV just to mention a few? Authorities sit aloof and watch how the people they swore to protect are defrauded and manipulated by these charlatans in cassock, suit and tie. Are they not supposed to investigate them? Will these not make their followers who are also our neighbours refuse to adhere to the hygiene protocols since they claim their oils, prayers and their “god” provides them immunity? We have a big time bomb waiting to explode in our faces.
Is COVID-19 a blessing or curse after all? Well your answer is as good as mine.
My advice to health workers is to support the efforts and the leadership been exhibited by all Ghanaians especially government in as much as they can do more and observe the W.H.O protocol on handwashing, protect yourself first by wearing protective clothing, calm down and work as a team.
Richard Buabeng is a Mental Nurse–Ghana Health Service, Regional Coordinator – Africa, HRDS India