Parliament on Wednesday raised concerns over the preparedness of the nation’s security personnel at the border posts to the threat of the Ebola epidemic, cautioning that they stood at a serious risk of infection.
The concerns followed an inspection of border locations in Hamile in the Upper West Region; Elubo in the Western Region; Paga, Misiga, Mgnori and Bawku in the Upper East Region; and Aflao in the Volta Region, and an interaction with security personnel of the Ghana Army Detachment, the Ghana Police Service, Immigration Service, Ghana National Fire Service, the Ghana Revenue Authority (Customs Division), National Security and Port Health.
“At all the sites visited, it was obvious that the level of preparedness and the availability of the requisite logistics put the front line security personnel at serious risk, should any infected person arrive that the border,” Mr Fritz Baffour, Chairman of the Select Committee on Defence and the Interior, said in a statement on the floor of the House, on Wednesday.
He said port health personnel at all the border posts lacked vital items such as Personal Protective Gear (PPG), ultraviolet non-contact thermometers and disinfectants.
Also, transportation facilities such as ambulances to carry suspected carriers to verification and treatment centres were absent, and in the few places where isolation and holding wards were available, these were ramshackle, and run down with little or no basic amenities, such as running water, mosquito nets and beds.
According to Mr Baffour, who is also the Member of Parliament for Ablekuma South, it was however, not all “doom and gloom,” because despite the lack of logistic support, all the personnel encountered were knowledgeable and very much aware of the correct procedures with regards to Ebola and its repercussions.
The recent outbreak of the deadly Ebola disease has affected over 10,000 lives with the resultant death toll of about 4,500 in 10 countries worldwide.
Majority of the data and fatalities come from three countries in the West African sub-region, namely Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Ghana has been at the forefront to find an antidote to the spread of the virus.
In September, Accra became the headquarters of the UN Mission to combat Ebola – where it will co-ordinate international aid to assist West Africa to combat the spread of the virus.
Ghana has so far constructed an isolation centre in its industrial hub, Tema, while work on two others in Kumasi and Tamale was yet to be completed.
President John Mahama recently announced activating an insurance package to motivate health workers who would battle the disease should any occur in the country.
The disease has created an atmosphere of fear, panic and concern internationally, and many countries, including Ghana, near far from the affected areas, are instituting measures to prevent the entry and spread of the disease within their respective borders.
Ghana’s border crossings and entry points are the main focus of its action plan to stop Ebola from entering the country.
In a contribution, Alhaji Mohammed- Mubarak Muntaka, Majority Chief Whip, called for a united action by the leadership of the African Continent, to find what he called “African Solution” to the disease.
He was not in support of the closure of the borders since the disease can cross borders.
“We need to be pro-active, take advantage of the disease, and strengthen health systems on the Continent, “Alhaji Muntaka who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Asawasi Constituency, said.
Mr Frank Annor Dompreh, MP for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, suggested a replication of the Noguchi Memorial Centre for Medical Research in other parts of the country, especially the northern parts, for research into diseases like Ebola.
The Committee recommended, among other things, that the Ambulance Service should be made available at all the nation’s official border posts, at least one ambulance with trained personnel to transport suspected carriers to designated facilities.
It also suggested that the front line personnel must all be supplied with Personal Protective Gear and screening equipment.
Also, isolation and holding facilities for suspected carriers should be adequately provided with the necessary amenities to make inmates comfortable, and also protect the public from contamination and infection.
Equally, communication equipment at all the border posts should be enhanced so that early warning messages and vital information can be transmitted by key respondents promptly.
“The manning levels at all the border posts should be increased with the right equipment and weaponry to effectively patrol our very borders.
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