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706 Gt. Accra health workers survive COVID-19

BY: Edward Acquah & Felicia Kwarteng
 Dr Charity Sarpong, Greater Accra Regional Director of Health Services (inset), addressing the workshop in Accra.  Picture: Gabriel Ahiabor
Dr Charity Sarpong, Greater Accra Regional Director of Health Services (inset), addressing the workshop in Accra. Picture: Gabriel Ahiabor

A total of 710 health workers in the Greater Accra Region have so far contracted COVID-19, out of which four have died.

The surviving 706 health staff who tested positive for the virus from March, 2020 have fully recovered and are going about their duties in the various health facilities.

These were made known by the Greater Accra Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Mrs Charity Sarpong, at the 2020 Annual Performance Review meeting of the Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate in Accra yesterday.

The meeting was christened: "Advancing universal health coverage through enhanced people engagement, effective data management and appropriate technology in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic".

Challenging year

Dr Sarpong said 2020 was a challenging year for the directorate as the region recorded more than 50 per cent of the total reported COVID-19 cases.

She revealed that as of March 15, 2021, the Greater Accra Region had recorded 49,243 confirmed cases, with 47,699 recoveries and 212 deaths, while the active cases stood at 1,332.

She expressed delight about the commencement of the vaccination exercise, stating that the region had so far covered about 85 per cent of its targeted population for the first phase of the exercise.

“With respect to the safety of health workers, there has been a lot of capacity building on better understanding of the disease and how to protect ourselves using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The government, through the Ghana Health Service, has also been supplying us with the necessary PPE, and so all staff are now being protected,” she said.

Impact

Dr Sarpong said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the region’s Out Patient Department (OPD) per capita reduced from 0.86 in 2019 to 0.81 in 2020, with its total insured OPD attendants also reduced from 54 per cent in 2019 to 50.8 per cent in 2020.

“A reduction was also seen in key indicators such as skilled deliveries, family planning acceptor rate, and some of our immunisation coverage. Total deliveries also reduced about 7.4 per cent from 112,957 in 2019 to 104,608 in 2020,” she added.

She further indicated that a review of its region’s OPD attendance showed that malaria, respiratory tract infections, and hypertension remained the leading causes of the top 10 OPD morbidity recorded in the region.

Dr Sarpong added that although malaria topped the list, there had been a steady reduction in the number of cases recorded over the past three years — from 14 per cent of the total OPD attendance in 2018 to 11 per cent and 9.7 per cent in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

“This achievement is due to the remarkable improvement in malaria diagnosis, its case management and the distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to particularly pregnant women, mothers and their infants at service delivery points,” she said.

National statistics

A representative of the Ghana Health Service Council, Dr Badu Sarkodie, revealed that as of the end of 2020, a total of 3,656 health workers nationwide had tested positive for the virus, with 14 deaths.

He encouraged all health workers to get vaccinated and be advocates of the vaccination exercise, stressing that it was one of the surest ways to keep the virus at bay.

“This year, we will finalise the plan and processes of setting up and strengthening our systems for addressing staff needs such as provision of compensation and benefits package and investing in improving and expanding capacities,” he assured.

The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Mr Henry Quartey, applauded the health workers for their continuous dedication to duty irrespective of the inconvenience and dangers occasioned by the pandemic.

He urged all metropolitan, municipal, and district chief executives to institutionalise and support multi-disciplinary community health teams to help fix sanitation issues among other public health threats in their respective areas.