- On May 29, 2020
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By SEND GHANA’s DCMCs: Abdul Salam (Gushegu), Sumaila (Tamale), Daniel Achiri (East Mamprusi), Abubakari Shani (Yendi) and Mbamba Mark (Central Gonja)
Residents in the People for Health (P4H) Project operational districts in the Northern region are weighing the risk of seeking medical care at facilities following the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
SEND GHANA District Citizens Monitoring Committees’ (DCMCs) interaction with community members in 5 target districts reveal that while some residents, mostly men indicated their reservation of visiting facilities with minor ailments, mothers and pregnant women in particular, find it necessary to access healthcare regardless of the Covid-19 context.
“I will rather go the hospital for medical attention than to sit at home and die because of fear of the coronavirus disease,” Abdulai Arishe, a mother from the Gushegu municipal has said.
Ruth, who is also a breastfeeding mother in Tamale said for the sake of her child, she has no option than to go to the hospital for routine vaccination.
For residents, who are unwilling to visit facilities, largely do so on the account of not receiving quality care since facilities are prioritizing the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. They believe also that facilities could serve a fertile ground for contracting the disease and will thus resort to herbal medication.
“I will self-medicate for minor ailments rather than risk visiting the hospital to be attended to by staff, who are themselves are afraid of contracting the disease and will not give me the needed attention” said Abdul Rashid, a resident of Tamale.
Abiba Sambo, who lives in Buipe in the Savannah region, feels that her safety is not guaranteed and the thoughts of visiting health facilities in this moment of crisis is most frightening. According to her, health staff are not spurred from contracting the disease, let alone ordinary people.
“If health personnel themselves are contracting this deadly disease at hospitals, what assurance do I have that if I go to the hospital, I will not be infected with the disease,” she queried.
Although facilities in Tamale are opened to the public and services, including Antenatal care (ANC) Child Welfare Clinic (CWC), Out Patient Departments (OPD) and theatre among others are available to the citizens, there has been reduced number of people accessing these services at the regional and central hospitals.
“We have been recording reduced number of clients that visit the facility now as compared to the period before COVID-19,” said Abass Seidu, a senior Nurse at the …. hospital.
Reports from East Mamprusi suggest that health facilities are segregating and attending to patients with COVID-19 symptoms with enhanced protection from those without symptoms. Patients are made to wash their hands under running water with soap after which, hand sanitizers are applied before clients are attended to. For ANC and CWC, clients are given appointments to visit the health facilities in order not to breach the social and physical distancing protocols.
Community Health Officers (CHOs) at Montondo, Sunson, and Kpalsanando in Yendi, are embarking on home visits in their communities for CWC and education. Unlike the previous arrangement where clients go to the facility for weighing and other services, CHOs are now visiting homes to attend to their health needs in a pre-emptive move to still attend to those that would rather not go to the facility in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. This initiative, according to the health staff forms part of measures to ensure that the needs of children are particularly attended to.
Meanwhile, residents are adhering to the safety protocols for fear of contracting the disease. They believe in the popular adage that ‘prevention is better than cure’.
In the midst of the divergent views, what remain certain is that health facilities in the target districts are functioning during this pandemic. What remain unclear, however, is whether or not facilities operate at optimal level, given the revelation and complains of inadequate basic protective equipment such as coveralls, hand gloves, masks and alcohol-based hand sanitizers to enable them protect themselves and clients that visit the facilities.
DCMCs, are thus calling on the government and the health authorities to equip facilities with the needed protective equipment to guarantee the safety of staff and restore confidence in the citizens.