There are 8297 (08.45 3/06/2020) Coronavirus cases in Ghana, the fifth largest country outbreak in Africa. President Akufo-Addo has extended the closure of the country’s borders until at least June 4th, social gatherings have been banned and it’s now mandatory to wear a face mask in public.
EMT member, Dr Fredrick Mate arrived in Ghana on February 19th, and has been working with the Ministry of Health and WHO to adapt the WHO COVID-19 response and preparedness plans to the situation on the ground in Ghana. He’s also developed the national case management and infection protection and control guidelines. Dr Mate says: ‘The plans were initially adapted using experiences from the past Coronavirus outbreaks SARS and MERS, but as new information on the current outbreak has come to-light, we’re updating the guidelines and sharing that information with district teams.’
Now into his fourth month of support, Dr Mate’s also been instrumental in setting up and expanding the National Case Management team (from 3 to 20) and training facilitators to deliver infection prevention and control and case management training to frontline healthcare workers in the 16 districts across the country. 15 districts have now reported cases of COVID-19 (25/05/2020), although many are considered to be mild. Dr Mate explains: ‘Initially there weren’t enough facilitators to deliver the training nationwide and it was very tiring, but now I’m confident when I leave, the work can continue without me.’
Fredrick is now involved in the assessment of new treatment centres around the country and will remain in Ghana until at least June 18th. He reports that when he arrived in Ghana there were only two dedicated COVID-19 treatment centres, one with four beds and the other with 10 beds: ‘They’ve now identified 71 Treatment Centres nationally and 50 are up and running (21.05.20) – enabling each district to have at least three treatment centres’.
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, including as the Senior Medical Officer at Meru University of Science and Technology and previous experience with the International Rescue Committee. Dr Mate said: ‘When I first arrived in Ghana, I thought the country had an established health system and wasn’t in crises 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.’