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Regional News of Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Source: Raphael Godlove Ahenu, contributor

Combine information with enforcement to fight coronavirus - Public Health Promotion expert

Public Health Promotion Expert at the Head-office of Ghana Health Service, Dr. Kwadwo Asante Afari has noted that knowledge or information alone on COVID-19 will not change the behavior of Ghanaians unless it is done in combination with enforcement, effective Community participation interventions and empowerment through training, workshops, lectures, research and mass media discussions.

Dr. Asante Afari has therefore charged the MMDAs and CSOs/NGOs to ensure effective community involvement in COVID-19 interventions at the local as well as improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices and waste management.

He further urged both private and public institutions and companies to display approved health promotion materials on COVID-19 at vantage points at their workplaces to remind people to keep to social distancing protocols, wearing of the masks, regular hand washing, coughing, and sneezing etiquette.

Dr. Asante Afari was speaking during the Zonal Orientation of Non-Governmental Organizations on Covid-19 in Kumasi. The day’s event which was organized by the Ghana Health Service in collaboration with Ghana National Coalition of NGOs in Health brought together 25 participants from Ahafo, Bono, Bono East, Ashanti and Eastern regions.

The objective of the orientation was to discuss and establish NGOs support to enhance adherence to safety and infection prevention of COVID-19 in communities. It further aimed at establishing an NGO platform for consistent interaction and provision of up-to-date and reliable information about COVID-19

Dr. Asante Afari urged employers to stop employees with a mild cough or low-grade fever from coming to work and advice that they seek medical care as well as provide a register to take details including phone numbers of all workers and visitors to help make contact tracing easier.

The Public Health Promotion Expert, said COVID-19 has become highly fertile ground for misinformation and rumours, whether accidental and unintended or deliberate and malicious.

He therefore stressed the need for all to help to make sense of the mass of information that is being blasted at every one of us and challenged the Ghanaian media and especially social media bloggers to stop feeding the general public with misinformation on COVID-19.

The Founder/CEO of Global Media Foundation, media advocacy organization, Raphael Godlove Ahenu in a comment chastised the Ghana government for failing to recognize and utilize CSOs/NGOs’ skills, experience and networks in response to the fight against COVID-19.

According to him, CSOs/NGOs in Ghana have a long practice of executing vital developmental, philanthropic and advocacy actions across the four corners of the country frequently under challenging situations.

As a result, he noted that there can’t be any effective response to COVID-19 without the involvement of CSOs. However, at a time when their contributions are more critical than ever, they are also confronted with the negative impact of the pandemic on their operations and sustainability.

This oversight by the government, according to him, has weakened the planning, coordination and implementation of national responses, as well as the ability of CSOs to expand or sustain their efforts.

He has therefore called on the government to support CSOs’ operations and COVID-19 activities through the national emergency response fund as well as leverage CCOs/NGOs’ experience and expertise in planning, coordinating and implementing national responses to COVID-19.

The Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Ghana National Coalition of NGOs in Health, Ninsau Darku Alazar, commended the Ghana Health Service for the orientation and recognizing that CSOs/NGOs have much to offer in the fight against COVID-19.

According to him, what the coalition members need now is for the government to allocate part of the COVID-19 response fund to support their activities.

He said even though CSOs/NGOs have done much in the Covid-19 humanitarian response at both local and national levels, they are also confronted with the negative impact of the pandemic on their operations and sustainability.

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