The Lancet COVID-19 Commission, created to help speed up global, equitable, and lasting solutions to the pandemic, has applauded Ghana’s gains in the fight against COVID-19.
The commission named Ghana among nations that have used their meagre financial resources and under-resourced health systems to achieve excellence in preventing the further spread of COVID-19.
In order of best performance, countries have been classified as suppression, low and moderate while worst performers have been categorised as high and very high.
Ghana is among 16 countries classified as having low transmission, the second best performing category.
The rest in that category are Cote d’Ivoire, Hungary, Tunisia, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Estonia, Indonesia, Kenya, Norway, Japan, Slovakia, Lithuania, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria.
From the information, Ghana is doing better than Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Russian Federation and Italy, which are in moderate transmission category, while South Africa and Malta in high transmission and the United States of America, Israel, Spain and Brazil in very high transmission category.
Mortality rates vary by two orders of magnitude, from zero or near-zero deaths per million per day in the countries in suppression, to more than one death per million per day in the very high transmission countries.
With a little push, Ghana could rise to be classified among nations in suppression state as far as the fight against COVID-19 is concerned.
The Lancet COVID-19 Commission classifies countries according to the number of new cases per day per million population, because this is the most straight forward measure of rate of transmission of the virus.
Lancet COVID-19 Commission classifies a country as being in suppression state if there are five or fewer new cases per day in August, provided that the rate of testing is ample, which it defines as at least 20 tests per new case.
The Lancet COVID-19 Commission also classifies a country as having low transmission if there are 10 or fewer new cases per million population per day but the country is not in suppression.
It also classifies a country as having moderate transmission with 10-50 new cases per million per day.
Furthermore, high transmission is 50-100 new cases per million per day, and very high transmission is 100 or more new cases per million population per day.
The commission, chaired by Prof. Jeffrey David Sachs, was set up on July 9, 2020 to, among other things, assist governments, civil society and UN institutions to respond effectively to COVID-19.
It is to help speed up global, equitable, and lasting solutions to the pandemic.
The commissioners are leaders of health science and delivery, business, politics and finance from across the world.
The commissioners joined this effort in the shared belief that effective solutions can be found on the basis of global cooperation, social justice, sustainable development, and good governance that builds on public trust.
On the occasion of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, the Lancet COVID-19 Commission, in a statement published online on September 14, 2020, placed Ghana among the highly recognised countries that are making great progress in the fight against COVID-19 despite challenges in its health system, as well as funding.
Prof Jeffrey Sachs, who shared some aspects of the Lancet COVID-19 Commission statement via teleconference during the launch of the one million personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers by the Millennium Promise Alliance (MPA) in Accra, lauded Ghana’s efforts in the fight against the pandemic.
“The pandemic is stopped because of the trust by the population, by people following the principles of public health, wearing face masks, keeping physical distancing, respecting each other, taking guidance from professionals and the public health service.
“I only wish my own country [United States of America] were so trusting, disciplined and well led with such a strong community backbone as you have in Ghana. Ghana is a country my wife, Sonia, and I love and admire tremendously.
“I want to thank Angela Trenton-Mbonde, the UNAIDS Country Director, who has done such a wonderful job, for her support; the current Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Aboagye; and Dr Nsiah Asare, the Special Advisor on Health to the President, for the guidance and the professionalism that you have shown in making this effort,” he noted.
Globally, 19 countries achieved suppression in August.
They include Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Malaysia, New Zealand, Uganda, Togo, Pakistan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Uruguay, Republic of Korea, Finland, Cuba and Rwanda.
Ten out of the 19 countries, according to the Lancet COVID-19 Commission statement, were in the Asia-Pacific region, the highest performing region in the fight against the pandemic.
Thirty-seven countries, including Canada, Italy, Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, Russian, Saudi Arabia, Austria and Czech Republic, were classified as countries with moderate transmission.
On the other hand, eight countries, including South Africa, Romania and Malta, were classified as countries with high transmission.
The United States of America, Bolivia, Spain, Israel, Brazil and six other countries incurred very high transmission.
The difference across the countries in the rate of transmission of the virus, according to the Lancet COVID-19 Commission statement, is stark and remarkable, ranging from less than one new case per million population per day.
“This enormous range underscores that countries with high or very high rates of transmission are failing to undertake sufficient NPIs to control the pandemic.
“The pandemic can be controlled, as shown clearly by the countries that have largely suppressed it”, the commission’s statement in part read.
The Executive Director of MPA, Chief Nathaniel Ebo Nsarko, commenting on the report, urged countries to make concerted efforts in their fight against the pandemic.
“If we heed to the lessons of history and make concerted efforts individually and collectively to fight this menace, we would come out victorious. If we do not, we would have ourselves to blame”, he noted.
He further admonished countries to make the provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to health professionals a priority, especially the often neglected groups like cleaners and mortuary staff.
Additionally, countries should train their health professionals on the proper use of PPEs and conduct emergency response drills such as drills on the proper use of PPEs, disease surveillance and notification simulation exercises, as well as the need to strengthen the community-based surveillance systems.
Mr Nsarko lauded the philanthropic hearts of GSK, Sergey Brin Family Foundation, Jenn Gross OCP Africa and Nancy Best for their support to MPA over the years, and urged other individuals and organisations to do same.