Public health facilities in the Upper East Region have no disposable face masks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect frontline healthcare providers as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the Region.
At the Regional Hospital, which is the main referral facility, many nurses were seen working without face masks, while others used their handkerchiefs as face masks at the wards and special units.
For instance, at the Out-Patient Department (OPD) which is the first point of contact for all patients, none of the nurses who were busy administrating health care had face masks on.
“We don’t have any face masks; we are risking our lives to save others, in fact we don’t even have PPE,” a nurse at the Regional hospital told the Ghana News Agency.
The GNA also gathered that the situation was not different at all the District hospitals across the Region. “As it stands, if we get any suspected case of coronavirus, we are going to abandon the hospital and runaway,” a nurse told the GNA on condition of anonymity.
The health professionals, working without protective gear did not spare the available methylated spirit at their disposal as they frequently rubbed their hands with it to prevent hospital acquired infections.
Meanwhile the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA) in a press statement jointly signed by its National President, Mrs Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo and Mr David Tenkorang-Twum, the General Secretary, expressed concern about the two reported cases of COVID-19 in the country.
The Association called on Nursing and Midwifery managers to ensure that PPE was available for use by all nurses and midwives working in Isolation Units in the four designated treatment centres.
“In the event of unavailability of these logistics at the isolation centres, we strongly advice our nurses and midwives to protect their lives by removing themselves from that environment,” the statement said.
Mr Zakariah Yakubu, the Head of Administration at the Upper East Regional Hospital, told the GNA that “We have combed round the whole Region but we can’t find any face masks to buy, the situation is nationwide.”
He said in the meantime, management was putting in place measures to provide staff with reusable face masks, adding that management would not relent on ensuring that the personnel were adequately protected to enable them render care to their clients.
When the GNA visited some major pharmacy shops within the Bolgatanga Municipality, the PPE, especially the disposable face masks were completely sold out.
At Bencyn Pharmacy, a popular pharmacy shop in the Municipality, an attendant, Mr Kennedy Anyanah, said they ran short of face masks and alcohol hand sanitizers but we have ordered for some sanitizers”.
He said the small size of the alcohol hand sanitizer which used to be sold for GHC 2.00 was now sold for GHC5.00, the medium size, which was GHC 5.00, now goes for GHC 9.00 while the big size, which was GHC 12.00, was now GHC 50.00.
Mr Desmond Badhr, the Officer in charge of the Gina 24 Hour Pharmacy in Bolgatanga, said his outfit had no face mask and alcohol hand sanitizers.
When asked if the reported case of the COVID-19 was the reason for the shortage, he said “Ours finished long time ago before the coronavirus was reported. Even our suppliers do not have some.”