This follows a nationwide tour by the Parliamentary select Committee on Defense and Interior to apprise themselves of how key points of entry were equipped to prevent the deadly disease from infiltrating into the country.
Over 5,000 people have so far died from the disease which is transmitted via human contact. Most of the deaths have occurred in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea even though there have been some scattered cases across the globe.
This has created an atmosphere of fear, panic and concern internationally, as many countries far and near from the affected countries have instituted measures to prevent the entry and spread of the disease within their respective borders.
Ghana is no exception, with its main border crossings and entry points being the main focus of its action plan to stop Ebola from entering the country. An intensification of border patrols and sensitization campaigns aimed at ensuring the disease which has affected over 10,000 people has been in place for some time now to ensure it doesn’t enter the country.
The Committee on Defense and Interior subsequently visited some selected entry posts in the country – Hamile in the Upper West Region, Elubo in the Western Region, Paga, Missiga, Mgnori and Bawku in the Upper East Region and Aflao in the Volta Region – to ensure they were “well equipped to prevent the disease from infiltrating into our homeland.”
After careful deliberations with various border personnel who gave briefings on preparations with regards to Ebola prevention and other current security issues within their respective areas of operation, the Committee came to the realization that these personnel are at “serious risk” of contracting the disease should any infected person arrive at any of the nation’s borders.
“At all the sites visited, it was obvious that the level of preparedness and availability of the requisite logistics put the front line security personnel at serious risk should any infected person arrive at a border,” read the Committee’s report.
This came to light on the floor of the house on Wednesday, when the Chairman of the Committee, Fritz Baffour presented the report to the Legislators which painted a gloomy nature of the much touted preparedness of the country’s preparedness to fight Ebola.
“Port health personnel at all the border posts, lacked vital items such as Personal Protective Gear (PPG), ultra-violet non-contact thermometers and disinfectants. Transportations such as ambulances to carry suspected carriers to verification and treatment centers were absent. In the few places where isolation and holding wards were available, these were ramshackle and rundown with little or no basic amenities such as running water, mosquito nets and beds,” the Member of Parliament for Ablekuma South said.
The committee also recommended to government, to help in the fight against disease.
“The front line personnel must all be supplied with personal protective gear (PPG) and screening equipments. That the manning levels at all border post should be increased with the right equipment and weaponry to effectively patrol our very porous borders,” Mr Baffour said.
He also added that “the ambulance service should make available at all our official border posts, at least one ambulance, with trained personnel to transport suspected infected disease carriers to the designated facilities.”
The former Minister of Information further informed the Legislature that “isolation and holding facilities for suspected carriers be adequately provided with the necessary amenities to make inmates comfortable and also protect the public from possible contamination and infection.”
He however, was full of praise for the level of awareness by the security personnel manning the various border posts in the face of inadequate logistics.
“Despite the lack of logistics support, all the personnel we encountered were knowledgeable and very much aware of the correct procedures with regards to Ebola and its repercussions.”
Contributing to the statement, a member of the Committee, Wing Commander Francis Anaman (rtd) decried the lack of funding to procure logistics for those manning the borders.
“Mr. Speaker, one thing which is germane and very dear to my heart is about funding to procure what they call the protective equipments (PPE’s). Surprisingly all the border post that we observed, there was not enough for the personnel who were manning the border posts. I mean in some instances, some of the personnel are even impressed upon, to use their own funding to purchase hand gloves,” the Member of Parliament for Jomoro added.