Report on Novel Corona Virus (COVID19 and Non Communicable Disease (NCDs) Public Education in the Eastern Region by Stroke Association Supportnetwork-Ghana (SASNET-GHANA)
The Ghana NCD Alliance and Stroke Association Supportnetwork-Ghana (SASNET-GHANA) in collaboration with the Eastern regional Health Directorate, Ghana Health Service and Information Service Department embarked on COVID19 and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) education within some selected districts in the Eastern region to help contain the spread of the disease and reduce the deaths relating to COVID19 with a total death record of 34 with over 80% being patients with existing conditions ,such as diabetes, hypertension, respiratory illness among others.
The exercise began on 14th May 2020 and will end on 31st May 2020 in the eastern hoping to replicate it in parts of the region and in the Volta region. COVID19 and NCDs public education was officially launched on MyFm 94.5, Eastern FM 105.5 and on all the social media platforms which was preceded with a press statement by persons living with Non Communicable Disease such as Strokes, Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancer, Alzheimer’s, persons wilt autoimmune disease, etc and care partners .The press statement was captured and used as a news item by radio stations in the region and on Ghana News Agency website( https://www.gna.org.gh/1.18271831 ) The campaign team visited Communities such as Yilo Krobo, New Juaben North and South, Akuapem , Akyem Tafo and Suhum and Kraboa coaltar all in the Eastern region .Persons Living with NCDs and care partners led the education on COVID19 and NCDs with one amplified voice and a call all Ghanaians especially Persons with NCDs to stay safe and healthy in this COVID19 era. The team sought views from persons living with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and carers on their needs, challenges, before and during the COVID19 pandemic and present those feedback as a report to keep government informed and guide in the implementation strategies to strengthen Ghana’s response to COVID19 and NCDs especially in the eastern region. The New Juaben South Municipal Chief Executive, Hon. Isaac Apaw Gyasi supported the COVID19 and NCDs public education with facemasks for the vulnerable especially the aged and persons living with Non Communicable Disease.
Ghana NCD Alliance and Stroke Association Supportnetwork-Ghana (SASNET-GHANA) acknowledges the fact that, His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in his regular update on COVID19 , thus the nation address on COVID19 , which he made mention of diabetes, hypertension, and liver diseases among other NCDs been the major underlying factors to the COVID19 mortality in the country. As an organization with interest in NCDs and Persons living with NCDs, there was the need to act swiftly to reduce any further deaths from COVID 19 especially patients with underlying conditions who are more susceptible to the infection, corona virus. It was very necessary for the Ghana NCD Alliance and Stroke Association Supportnetwork-Ghana (SASNET-GHANA) to embark on this public education on COVID 19 and NCDs. Currently the region has recorded a total of 117 COVID19 cases. Ghana NCDA and SASNET-GHANA COVID19 and NCDs community’s education will go a long way to help those living with NCDs and carers (care partners) and residence in the region to be extra careful and ensure that ,they comply with all safety protocols, directives and measures to avoid being infected with the novel corona virus (COVID19) in the region.
Stroke Association Supportnetwork-Ghana (SASNETGHANA) and the Ghana NCDA made the following observations during COVID19 and NCDs education in part of the eastern region.
- Education on COVID19 is very poor among residence living within the various communities in the region.
- Protocols aimed at preventing further spread of the COVID19 are not properly observed and complied with , 4 out 10 persons are seen to comply with the safety protocol,ie, wearing of facemask, observing social distancing and hand washing with soap and under running water
- Groups of persons who are seen to flout with the directives within the communities ,includes, drivers, (Trotro drivers ), Pragia riders, Okada riders, etc – facemask are not worn , social distancing protocol are not properly observed by residence
- Market men and women— are usually seen flouting the directives, ie, about 75% do not wear face mask and social distancing , personal hygiene (Hand washing) directives are not complied with.
Almost all the markets we visited including, Nkurakan market, Agartha market, Suhum, market, Adawso market,Asuboi market, Asesewa market,etc, with the exception of Asenema market and those at Jackson park in Koforidua where social distancing directives are complied with however most traders don’t wear facemask , Veronica buckets are also not available to used for hand washing. All the above named markets are crowded including some lorry stations in the region
- A section of Persons with Non communicable diseases( mental and Alzheimer’s patients) and other forms of disability
are affected with some form of fear especially going to hospital or clinic for check ups and have their drugs refill in this covid19 era ,this is believed to be the fear of being infected with corona virus as a result of poor education on COVID19 within the communities and misinformation.
• Majority of drinking spots and bets centers are in operating in the region without complying with the directives / ban on social gathering.
Recommendations to Government
- Education on COVID19 at the communities, districts and regional level must be intensify especially within the local communities/ villages ie on ground education in order to reach all persons.
• Government should set up Safety Compliance Task Force (SCTF) at the districts level to ensure that all persons comply with all safety protocols to prevent community spread of the virus (COVID19) especially at the market places and stations.
- Veronica buckets should be provided at all markets places and stations in the districts as well as provision of facemask to vulnerable group especially women, children and the aged.
- Government should implement strategy such as the Telemedicine – Online consultation especially for persons living with Non Communicable Diseases to enable them to have access to medical services from the comfort of their home while observing social distancing protocol.
- Stroke Association Supportnetwork-Ghana (SASNET Ghana) has created an online support program for persons with stroke called the Post Discharge Stroke Support (PDSS) to compliment government’s effort in providing support to persons living with Stroke in this COVID19 era and beyond. Government should recommend the PDSS to all health facilities managing stroke patients to sign up to the program. The PDSS services could be access at the comfort of their homes and is free of charge for all Ghanaians with Strokes.
- Government should promote the use of the emergency line (055-8439868, 050-9497700 and 112) at the community level to enable citizens report any suspected signs of symptoms relating to COVID19
- Government should enforce the ban on advertisement of alcohol and advertisement of tobacco on social media and the operations of drinking spots in this era of COVID19
Mr. Ad Adams Ebenezer, the Executive Director of Stroke Association Supportnetwork-Ghana, Secretary of the African Stroke Organization, Steering Committee and the Vice Chairman of the Ghana NCD Alliance, call on all Ghanaians to be discipline, observe personal hygiene and comply with all safety protocols, while government should also consider recommendations from various institutions and organizations which are all aim to combat and defeat COVID 19 in the country.
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