Ghana’s COVID-19 responses have received recognition from world leaders across the world, with many urging both developed and developing countries to emulate the country’s approach in fighting the pandemic.
Not long ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognized the efforts of the Akufo-Addo-led government in the fight against the pandemic, suggesting it is one of the few countries in the world with effective COVID-19 management response.
Also, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of UK Mission to the WTO, UN and other International Organisations, Julian Braithwaite praised Ghana for its innovative ways in handling the pandemic through the use of drones in delivering testing samples and PPEs to lab centres and hospitals.
To top it up, Ghana’s Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu has been elected to serve on the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Washington Post has, in a recent report analysing how frontline health workers are treated in countries across the world, done a comparison between Ghana and the United States of America.
The report observed that Ghana’s frontline health workers are taken better care of than those in the US, based on the relief packages introduced by the governing NPP government led by Akufo-Addo.
The report said “Hazard pay has become a rallying cry and a source of controversy around the world as health-care workers risk their lives on the front lines – often without adequate supplies or protection. Ghana is offering some of the globe’s most generous additional benefits while a number of nations move to expand their support for those laboring in highly infectious environments.”
Aside from Ghana, the report also compared COVID-19 interventions by governments of Canada, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Iraq.
The Washington Post noted that these countries have introduced special interventions to cushion health workers but in the US, some health care workers are faced with pay cuts because the hospitals are running at a loss.
President Akufo-Addo in his fifth address to the nation said all health workers will be exempted from tax payment on their monthly emoluments for the next three months and further announced an additional package of a 50 percent increment of basic salary from March to June 2020.
Canada announced salary hikes. France pledged bonuses for doctors and nurses as part of its $120 billion rescue package. Russia made a similar promise though some emergency responders have not seen the cash. An Iraqi governor said public health employees would be rewarded with free land. The United Kingdom is paying families of medical workers who die of COVID-19 a lump sum of 60,000 euros or about $65,000.
The Washington Post spoke to some Ghanaian frontline health workers who expressed their satisfaction with the government’s actions and willingness to work more because of the reliefs by the President.
According to them, they feel motivated to work hard and are ever ready to put their lives on the line in the fight against COVID-19.
One Rebecca Kumah, a 35-year-old nurse who treats COVID-19 patients on the night shift in Accra said “it has been such a great relief. Our sacrifice is recognised.”
Also, a 31-year-old Physician at Lekma Hospital, Emmanuel Amankra said “Now everyone is on red alert for COVID-19. Everyone is just like, ‘This has never been done before.’ It helps to know what you are doing is being seen. I’ll say: ‘Oh, I’m tired. I’m going to take a break.’ And then someone says, ‘Well, you’re getting a tax cut,’ and we keep working.”
But “American officials have repeatedly referred to the country’s doctors and nurses as “heroes,” and President Trump has described them as “running into death just like soldiers running into bullets.” But the United States has approved no national hazard pay, and some health-care workers face reduced hours and pay as hospitals suffer losses.”
Dr. Patrick Aboagye, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service speaking to Washington Post said government introduced the interventions because when health workers are happier employees, they would be more effective with fighting the virus.
“When people are motivated, they do their work from their hearts. The coronavirus is deadly and the people who treat patients endure constant exposure. They are more likely to get sick…They must feel supported,” Dr Aboagye said.
On the back of this, the US government, in the report has been advised to learn from Ghana and the other countries to improve the protection given to health workers risking their lives to treat COVID-19 patients.