Members of Parliament have expressed appreciation at the COVID 19 testing conducted in Parliament and described the exercise as a welcome relief.
According to the MPs, knowledge of one’s status and especially when negative will be a confidence booster to carry on with work.
Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye on Tuesday directed the Clerk and the medical staff of the House, to arrange with the relevant institution to have MPs and staff of the Parliamentary Service test for the disease.
He indicated that as representatives of the people, it has become imperative for the House to set a good example amidst the growing count of infections.
The MPs appealed for the facility to be made available to the general populace in order to dispel accusations that members are overly concerned about their personal safety to the detriment of the entire population.
Member for Bawku Central Hon. Mahama Ayariga, in an interview after going through the process noted that it is essential for MPs and Ghanaians in general to know their status because that ensures not only their safety but the safety of the country.
He said, “I always insist people should not be afraid of testing for disease. If the disease is in you there is nothing you can do and therefore the need to know so you can be helped.”
“I appreciate that the facility has been made available for us to be tested but I hope same will be made available for the generality of Ghanaians.”
“If it is made public that MPs have been tested but ordinary Ghanaians do not have access to the facility to be tested it becomes discriminatory,” he stated.
Mr. Ayariga noted that under the circumstance where MPs are compelled to come to work and sit together in a confined space, it is understandable they test for the disease to ensure their safety and that of their colleagues.
MP for Sisala West, Patrick Al-Hassan Adamah, described the process as unusually simple and stressed it is essential MPs undergo the testing to stop the spread of the virus.
As many tests as possible, he said, should be conducted among the general public and condemned stigmatization as an illogical phenomenon.
He however, argued running away from the test due to stigma is only hastening an infected person to their death.
He said “Nobody should therefore be worried about stigma. For example, if I test positive that will be great because I now know my status and can be given the needed care.”
“Conducting as many test as possible across the country will guarantee we are able to track what is happening giving the current transmission and the infected persons isolated for treatment,” he added.
Boniface Abu-Bakar Saddique, MP for Madina, observed that the testing will bring about transparency in the handling of the disease in Ghana.
According to him, people will be receptive to the idea of getting tested if they see their representatives in Parliament voluntarily going through the COVID-19 testing.
“It is just fair that certain precautionary measures are taken for MPs who go out and talk to people about how the disease or the virus looks like.”
“As a community we cannot run away from stigmatization but we can only advise the public to treat people who have tested positive or recovered with respect and dignity.”
MP for Ledzokuku and Deputy Minister of Health, Bernard Okoe Boye, stated that Ghana’s policy of tracing, testing and treating puts the country one step of the virus.
According to him, the enhanced tracing allows the government to go after people who might have come across infected persons.
He noted that Ghana’s strategy is the best, which other countries in Europe and the Americas have now adopted to halt the spread of the virus in the population.
“However, as the numbers go up it is possible you cannot capture every person in the net. So Parliament is going through the exercise and the results will give an idea of the level of risk in the Parliamentary environment.”
“We can repeat the exercise on other groups for example, Trotro drivers at Tema station to determine the risk level among commercial drivers.
This, the Deputy Minister said, will determine whether Ghana is largely safe and winning the war against the COVID-19.