The Chairperson of the COVID-19 National Trust Fund, Justice Sophia Akuffo, has stated that the fund closed down its warehouse because of dwindling finances and donations.
According to her, since October last year, the fund received a donation only last week and had just GH¢ 6 million left in its coffers.
Justice Akuffo made the disclosure at the installation and inauguration of a SchuyLab digital Laboratory Information System (LIS) at the Virology Laboratory at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) in Accra yesterday.
“Now, our warehouse is empty and has been handed back to the army who are the original owners. We do not have any items; no Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), no sanitiser, nothing,” she said.
Justice Akuffo, a former Chief Justice, said even though her outfit continued to receive volumes of requests, donations to the fund had reduced drastically and that money available currently could last only up until April this year and then the vault might run dry.
She said the situation could be attributed to the public perception that the pandemic was over.
However, she observed that the pandemic had reached a height never recorded before,hence the need for individuals, corporate Ghana, associations and the public to donate to the fund.
“Let the funds flow in to support research like we have done today and to also meet requests that come to us,” she added.
The LIS will be operated by the technical staff of the NMIMR.
It was funded by the Healthcare Federation of Ghana (HFG), in conjunction with Medlab Ghana Services Limited, the COVID-19 National Trust Fund, the Ghana COVID-19 Private Sector Fund, Fidelity Bank, Ghana, among other key donors.
A board member of the HFG, Dr Rosemary Keatley, who is also the Managing Director of Medlab Services Ghana Limited, said in the midst of the pandemic, there was a need for interventions that would positively impact and sustain the country’s fight against the pandemic.
She said the installation of the ILS at the Noguchi Virology Laboratories was the first phase of a project known as “LIS for Ghana” which was estimated to cost over GH¢600,000.
Dr Keatley said a similar installation exercise would take place later this year at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory also in Accra.
For his part, the Director of the NMIMR, Professor Abraham Kwabena Annan, commended the team of donors for the information system software as it would cut down turnaround time in COVID-19 testing.
“Previously, turnaround time was about eight hours, but now with the LIS, when one is tested in the morning, results should be ready by mid-day,” he said.
He said because the LIS was fully automated and limited human intervention, the country’s COVID-19 testing capacity stood to expand.
In addition, Mr Annan said the computers at the NMIMR would now communicate straight to the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine through the LIS.
Furthermore, he said the system had been designed in a way that did not allow for people’s COVID-19 results to be altered by anyone, adding that “Even if somebody with higher authority changes it, the system is able to detect who altered it and show the one’s initials”.
The LIS, he said, would also improve accuracy, store samples, package results and retrieve samples. “So really, this is a comprehensive system that is adding to our excellence in testing”.