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Ghana Infectious Diseases Centre: Exemplary initiative

BY: Kouame Koulibaly

It all started as a harmless WhatsApp chat between Mr Senyo Hosi of the Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors and Mr Oteng-Gyasi of Tropical Cable & Conductor Ltd.

Then a telephone conversation with the Board Chair of Fidelity Bank, Mr Eddie Effah, which prompted the three gentlemen that they could actually step in with a modern, quickly built, but cost-effective facility to help Ghanians battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 was raging and a partial lockdown had been declared in parts of the country to curb its spread. After consultations with a few other friends and associates, a fund of 11 trustees was quickly brought together as the Ghana COVID 19 Private Sector Fund.

Each trustee committed to making a GH¢100,000 personal donation and their companies giving one million cedis each.

Centre

With staunch support from the Ghana Army and a variety of professionals, who offered free services, the Ghana Infectious Disease Centre (GIDC) was eventually realised.

It is a modern 100-bed facility at the Ga East Municipal Hospital at Kwabenya, built in about 12 weeks, with innovative technology and at a cost far lower than what pertains anywhere on the construction market.

The all-Ghanaian collaboration to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic knew the only way to come up quickly with what they had in mind was to embrace an innovative approach, such as using the expandable polystyrene (EPS) wall panels produced by Mr Joe Akyeampong’s CST Africa Company located off the Spintex Road in Accra.

“We were not in normal times and when you have abnormal times, you sometimes have to come up with innovative ways to respond appropriately,” said Lt Col A.B. Takyi of the Ghana Armed Forces, who was the Project Manager.
According to the Ghana COVID-19 Private Sector Fund’s Managing Trustee, Mr Hosi, CST Africa was one of their major vendors as they provided EPS panels to help solve both solid wall and insulation requirements.

“We called on Mr Akyeampong and he organised his team to work around the clock to produce just for this project. It takes a committed Ghanaian who identifies with the urgency of the time to bend his back and commit the way CST Africa did. We really appreciate their services,” Mr Hosi said.

“They came to us and we readily delivered,” the CST Africa boss also said and added that “as a company, we cannot have a better opportunity to be heard and seen than in an emergency situation such as this.”

One of the architects that worked on the GIDC, Mr Kofi Essel-Appiah, emphasised that brick and mortar could have been used, but arguably at a much slower pace, which could not also have been appropriate for the kind of speed required.

To him, the use of EPS panels is a refreshing alternative to handling projects that require speed to finish.

Army

The involvement of the Ghana Army was key in the construction of the GIDC. The Director of Engineering Services, Ghana Armed Forces, Col. A.E. Shooter, admitted that the project was started at the time that there was very little movement across town.

“There was difficulty of movement of personnel and we took that up,” Col. Shooter proudly said. “We provided buses and safely got all workers to and from the construction site. We also coordinated the input of the contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers to make sure everything ran smoothly.”

The co-chair of the Ghana COVID- 19 Private Sector Fund, Mr Edward Effah, affirmed that without the Army, it would have been difficult to make progress, especially during the lockdown period.

The GIDC is a permanent structure and has all the high-tech features and equipment, as well as the disciplined organisational set-up expected of any modern hospital in this country.

Inauguration

At its inauguration last July, Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said an amount of $7.5 million dollars was used to launch the project, and that was a celebration of Ghanaian ingenuity and patriotism.

To Flt Lt. Ivy Tetteh, an architect on the project, it was a source of joy to see an actual building standing where there was initially just a proposed site.

Managers of the Ghana COVID 19 Private Sector Fund are discussing the possibility of a second project in Kumasi and maybe two more in Takoradi and Tamale, since the whole idea is to take the facilities closer to the people.
Sounding rather like a clergyman, Col. Shooter stated that the building of the GIDC was a calling that touched everyone.

Fund trustee, Mr Kweku Bediako, agreed with him when he affirmed that all who worked on the project were no longer just acquaintances but friends and that the end result, speedily constructed with CST Africa’s EPS panels, was beautiful for all.