Ghana embarked on intense actions to contain the coronavirus outbreak since the first two cases were confirmed on 12 March 2020. Public health measures such as mandatory wearing of facemasks in public places, social distancing, and hand hygiene were instituted to curtail the spread of the virus. For optimal care of those infected with coronavirus, various guidelines were adapted and isolation/treatment facilities were quickly identified and equipped to receive and manage suspected and confirmed cases.
However, as the pandemic raged on, it became evident that more needed to be done to adequately equip treatment facilities especially those managing severe to critical Covid-19 patients to improve clinical outcomes and reduce case fatality rates.
The World Bank through the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) provided funds to WHO to enhance the capacity of Ghana’s health system for case management, improve quality of care and early case detection. As a result of this provision, treatment facilities in all 16 regions of Ghana have received critical medical supplies such as oxygen concentrators, patient monitors, arterial blood gas analyzers, electrocardiograms, nasal oxygen cannulas, and pulse Some 360 multidisciplinary health staff were also trained to effectively manage Covid-19 patients in isolation, treatment facilities and at home. Today, Ghana’s health system has improved capacity to monitor and manage diseases requiring intensive care. Consequently, a greater proportion of those infected with Covid-19 requiring intensive care and ventilator support have higher chances of survival.
Careful screening, triaging, diagnosis, timely linkage to care, and contact tracing are all essential steps in the management of Covid-19 patients. To efficiently achieve these, healthcare workers responding within these various health facilities had to be adequately protected to reduce their chances of contracting Covid-19. Personal Protective Equipment such as KN95, medical masks, examination gloves, face shields, isolation gowns, coveralls, goggles, gum boots, and shoe covers was supplied to healthcare workers across the country.
In Greater Accra Region, the hotbed of the COVID-19 outbreak in Ghana, 225 contact tracers were trained to identify and promptly link cases to care, and follow-up contacts of confirmed cases as part of reducing community transmission. The National Ambulance Service was also supported with funds and PPEs to facilitate timely safe transportation of confirmed cases to treatment facilities across the country. Confirmed cases admitted to isolation or treatment facilities, especially the vulnerable were supported with personal effect items such as toothpaste, bathing towels, et cetera to cater for their hygiene needs while on admission.
WHO greatly appreciates the World Bank for the PEF funds which made it possible to support these activities and contributing effectively to the Covid-19 response in Ghana.