The Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) on Tuesday launched a COVID-19 testing programme in Accra to make Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test easily accessible at the district and sub-district levels.
The testing programme, aimed at complementing government’s efforts at containing the coronavirus, will be implemented at six sites in five selected regions.
The sites are the Bawku Presbyterian Hospital in the Upper East Region, Wenchi Methodist Hospital and Holy Family Hospital at Berekum in the Bono Region, and SDA Hospital at Kwadaso in the Ashanti Region.
The others are the Saint Francis Xavier Hospital at Assin Fosu in the Central Region, and the Saint Dominic Hospital, Akwatia, in the Eastern Region.
Mr Kwaku Ageymang-Manu, the Minster of Health, who launched the programme, lauded the Association for coming up with an intervention to meet the growing demands of PCR COVID-19 testing beyond designated epicenters.
He said Ghana was ranked one of the few countries that responded to the pandemic rightly due to the solidarity and resilience of the health system in containing the virus, while providing essential and basic healthcare to the populace.
“As cases rose, testing and contact tracing was anchored at some regional and district levels to ensure effective mitigation of the pandemic at all levels,” the Health Minister said.
The intervention is an upgrade of CHAG’s COVID-19 Response and Institutional Capacity Building Project (CRIB), created since the onset of the pandemic, to support national COVID-19 response with funding from the UK Government’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
Dr Peter Yeboah, the Executive Director of CHAG, said despite the efforts made in curbing the spread, the risk of increase in viral transmission presented the need for more test labs to be established.
He said for a better control of the spread of the Covid-19, government must ramp up the capacity and scope of contact tracing, testing and routine surveillance.
“The CHAG has observed that across some vulnerable generations and geography, prompt and accurate COVID test and scope can mean difference between life and death,” he said.
Dr Patrick Kuma Aboagye, the Director General of the Ghana Health Service, said Ghana had only two labs for the testing of the virus at the early stages of the pandemic but had now expanded to 36 testing laboratories across the country.
He appealed to the public to observe the COVID-19 preventive protocol as the Easter celebration approaches.
“Let’s celebrate this Easter carefully, let all make efforts to avoid large family gatherings as this is the only way to ensure that cases do not rise again as it did during the Christmas celebrations,” he said.
Mr Philip Smith, the Development Director of FCDO, Ghana, said the current COVID-19 vaccines were not silver bullets, but important tools designed to reduce the severity of the disease and deaths.
He encouraged Ghanaians to observe the safety protocols as Easter approaches, including the maintaining appropriate social distancing, wearing s face mask and frequent handwashing remained key in the fight against the coronavirus.
The Christian Health Association of Ghana is a network of 346 health institutions owned by the Catholic Bishop Conference, Christian Council of Ghana and the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council.
Presently, it is the second largest provider of health services, apart from government, contributing to 20 per cent on the national Out–Patient Department attendance and 35 per cent of in-patient care in all 16 regions.