By Zulka / padfm.com.gh / April 22, 2021.
The West Gonja Municipal Coordinating Director, Philemon Ankorley said the Covid-19 pandemic has not spared the municipality since Ghana recorded her first case in February, 2020.
Mr. Ankorley explained that the Municipal Health Directorate in collaboration with the West Gonja hospital through CHAG’s COVID-19 and Institutional Capacity Building (CRIB) Project, instituted renew efforts aimed at preventing the second wave and curbing the spread of the disease. These measures include enforcement of mandatory wearing of face mask in collaboration with the regional Police Command, sample collection and submission to the Public Health Reference Laboratory (PHRL) in Tamale and most recently the upgrade of the West Gonja Hospital laboratory to test for Covid-19. These measures have revealed a sharp rise in the number of cases in the West Gonja Municipality.
In February alone, 43 samples have been collected comprising suspected cases and those of high-risk contacts. The Municipality has so far recorded the following since the last update, with 20 more Covid-19 tests been conducted.
Total commutative cases tested are 191, total commutative results received are 152 with total results pending being 39.
The Municipal total confirmed cases are 24, with one active case and 19 persons recovered.
Within this period, Nine (9) health staff tested positive and the total death cases recorded by the Municipality are three (3) as at 21st April, 2021.
Mr. Ankorley explained that Damongo Nurses Training College has so far recorded 9 confirmed cases but there is no active case as of now in the school.
The turnaround time for laboratory results has been very poor over the period but this has improve drastically from 5 to 60 days to one (1) to 3 days because of the operation of the West Gonja Hospital laboratory.
He assured that the Covid-19 treatment center at the West Gonja Hospital is still active at and all staff are on standby for any possible case requiring admission. There is considerable number of PPEs at the centre even though more are still required especially for the new laboratory.
The most significant aspect of responsive activities following the last update is a vaccination of health staff within the municipality.
The monthly radio sensitization on prevention of Covid-19 as well as update to citizens on the state of the pandemic response activities in the municipality will continue.
He however, appealed to the public to conform to the protocols of Covid-19 to help end it’s spread. “We wish to encourage all the residents of the municipality to conform to all the National Protocols of Covid-19 prevention such as wearing of face masks, regular hand washing with soap under running water, use of alcohol hand sanitizers, avoiding crowded places, maintaining adequate physical distance in public places, and avoiding handshakes among others. We also encourage the general public to visit the hospital for assessment if you show any symptoms of Covid-19 “, he added.
Mr. Ankorley said this at the CHAG’s COVID-19 and Institutional Capacity Building (CRIB) Project Citizens must Know monthly meeting at the conference hall of the West Gonja Hospital.
The West Gonja Catholic Hospital is the largest in the Savannah region and the only hospital in Damongo, the capital. The hospital is one of the officially designated Covid-19 treatment centers serving as a regional referral center for all Covid-19 cases from the West Gonja Municipality, Bole district, Sawla-Tuna-Kalba, Central Gonja and North Gonja districts all in the Savannah region, revealed the Medical Superintendent of the hospital, Dr. Vitalis Saadaare.
He explained that the hospital constituted a response team, comprising four (4) Doctors, 12 Nurses, two (2) Biomedical Scientists, two (2) Orderlies, a Health Educator and a Disease Control Officer, and a Psychiatric Nurse for Psychosocial support to respond to Covid-19 and it’s related activities.
Dr. Vitalis said in collaboration with the Municipal Health Directorate, the team embarked on the some measures to curb the spread of the pandemic.
The team identified an isolation Ward and initiated modifications to be adapted to a standard Covid-19 treatment center, instituted enhanced Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) practices, procured 15 extra Veronica buckets, hand sanitizers and carbolic soaps, 1,000 pieces of surgical face mask, 4 infra-red thermometers.
The team also trained all staff on Covid-19 with specific emphasis on IPC, enhanced training to staff at the OPD, main gate, ANC entrance, Emergency Ward, Maternity Ward etc.
To help mitigate the spread of Covid-19, all special clinics ( Surgical, Diabetes/ Hypertension) were temporarily suspended with patients being encouraged to have their refill as and when necessary to minimize the overcrowding on clinic days.
The team also counseled all elective surgeries, limit the number of visitors to the hospital, implemented the “No mask no entry” policy, embarked on public education and sensitization on measures taken by the hospital to curb the spread of the pandemic on Radio PAD 95.1mhz, a local Community Radio Station in Damongo on weekly basis, public education on prevention of spread of Covid-19 in general on PAD FM, collaboration with the Public Health Emergency Committee among other things.
Through the CHAG Covid-19 CRIB project with support from the Savannah regional Health Directorate, the hospital laboratory has been upgraded to test for Covid-19. The Gene Expert machine previously used for TB testing is now being used for the Covid-19 testing. This test detects the RNA specific to SARS-Cov-2 and is very reliable.
Testing started on Friday, 26th February 2021, and so far tested 11 samples. The turnaround time for results has thus reduced from (5-60 days) to (1-2 days) at the facility.
Dr. Vitalis said despite the above, the hospital is still faced with some challenges.
The Male Medical Ward has been converted to Covid-19 treatment center and hence all male and female Medical and Surgical cases are currently being managed in a single ward, previously used for only female patients. This is creating a lot of inconvenience to both patients and staff. There is congestion in the ward defeating the purpose of Covid-19 response activities.
The Covid-19 center is mainly for confirmed cases. However, there is no isolation area for suspected cases that are sick and require hospital care. There is an urgent need to construct a ward for Covid-19 isolation and treatment center which could be used as infectious disease Ward even after Covid-19 pandemic.
He further revealed that the Covid-19 testing center requires more cartridges for testing. The test has been restricted to suspected cases who fit the case definition because of limited cartridges. There are no PPEs specific to the laboratory. The new laboratory is sharing these resources with the treatment center.
Some staff at the centre are demoralized by the fact that they have not been paid the proposed 50% basic salary as Covid-19 allowances for Frontline workers among others.
The Citizens must Know meeting was attended by the Hospital’s Administrator, Municipal Health Director, NADMO, officials from GES, Social Welfare, Damongo SHS, Ghana Health Service, Environmental Health among others.
padfm.com.gh / Abdulai Zulkaninu.