Status: Completed response

As COVID-19 began to spread around the world, the UK Emergency Team was asked by the World Health Organization (WHO) to help Ghana’s Ministry of Health prepare its pandemic response.

UK-Med member Dr Fredrick Mate was deployed for an initial term of one month, which was later extended to four months.

When Dr Mate arrived in Ghana in February 2020, the country had not yet reported any COVID-19 cases. His role was to help the WHO country office and national authorities strengthen their preparations and increase capacity for dealing with the pandemic, and to eventually initiate response operations.

Dr Mate is a qualified medical doctor and specialist in global health and management from Kenya. He has over a decade of experience working on clinical, technical and administrative roles with the public healthcare system in Kenya, and previous experience with the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

“When I first arrived in Ghana, I thought the country had an established health system and wasn’t in crisis and how would I be able to help? I now realise no matter how much a country or person seems capable, each one of us will need help at some time.” Dr Fredrick Mate - Response Lead, UK-Med
Dr Fredrick Mate (centre) at the Institute of Migration, Accra.
Dr Fredrick Mate (centre) at the Institute of Migration, Accra.

How we’ve helped

Working partnership with the Ministry of Health and WHO, Dr Mate’s primary activities included:

developing and regularly updating COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) and case management guidelines for Ghana

setting up and developing a national case management team

training healthcare, airport and ambulance staff in IPC and case management

assessing COVID-19 treatment centres and advising them on improvements.

training healthcare, airport and ambulance staff in IPC and case management


trainers trained


doctors trained


nurses trained

The response in detail

Developing guidelines

Working with the Ministry of Health and WHO, Dr Mate adapted the WHO’s COVID-19 response and preparedness plans to the situation on the ground in Ghana.

Initially there was limited information available on COVID-19, so he used resources based on previous SARS and MERS outbreaks to develop national case management and IPC guidelines. These were then updated as new information on COVID-19 came to light and more WHO guidelines were developed.

By the time Dr Mate left, the guidelines for Ghana had been updated four times, before being printed by WHO for distribution across the country.

Building case management capacity

Dr Mate set up and expanded the national case management team. Their tasks included identifying and preparing treatment and isolation centres, and developing guidelines, standard operating procedures and protocols.

Once guidelines and training materials were in place, the team trained airport health workers and ambulance teams, followed by staff in the country’s first two treatment centres.

Expanding training nationwide

In early March, the first two COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Ghana. To ensure the rapid roll-out of training in IPC and case management nationwide, Dr Mate and his team trained 150 facilitators from across Ghana who could then deliver training in the country’s 16 regions.

Structuring things in this way meant that the work could continue after the end of his deployment. By the time Dr Mate left Ghana, 3,000 nurses and 500 doctors had received the training.

Assessing treatment centres

When Dr Mate arrived in Ghana, there were only two dedicated COVID-19 treatment centres, one with four beds and the other with 10 beds. He helped ensure that 64 new COVID-19 isolation and treatment centres were visited, assessed and advised on how to improve the systems in place.

Photo credits: Dr Frederick Mate.

We’re grateful to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for UK Aid funding from the British people to fund this important response.