US gov’t helps set up public health emergency operations center in W/R

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) with support from the US government has opened a Public Health Emergency Operations Centre and a new Biosafety Level II facility at the Public Health Laboratory in the Western Region.

The Centre is expected to provide access to real time data needed for early detection of disease outbreaks while the Biosafety Level II facility will enhance the turnaround time for Covid and other molecular testing.

The Public Health Emergency Operations Centre has been established as part of efforts to strengthen the country’s emergency preparedness and response to public health threats.

It is fitted with modern ICT equipment and will serve as a nerve centre for the coordination of public health emergencies in the Western Region and beyond.

The Centre can also be seamlessly linked with the National Emergency Operations Centre when need be.

Western Region Director of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Yaw Ofori Yeboah explained that with the centre and an enhanced capacity of staff, the Region will be able to deal with public health emergencies more effectively, reduce impact of such emergencies and ultimately save lives.

“The Emergency Operations Centre EOC couldn’t have come at a better time. As you may all be aware, the Region is still battling with Covid-19. And a neighboring country which shares border with us has also reported 2 cases of Ebola. And just 24 hours ago, we were notified of an outbreak of Bird flu on a farm in the region. Fortunately, we now have a functional EOC fit for purpose.”

Established in 1991, the Western Regional Public Health Laboratory has been leading efforts in testing for priority diseases.

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Unfortunately, the outbreak of Covid-19 exposed a deficiency in the testing of emerging pandemics.

Director General of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye expressed the confidence that the upgrade of the lab will significantly improve the turnaround time for molecular testing.

“I remember when Covid-19 started, Western Region gave up going for their results because people sometimes recover before results come…So, in no time the issue of sample transportation will be a thing of the past in this area, with the coming of this facility.”

According to him, “we have two other pandemics knocking. We need to ensure that it does not come. But when it comes, we hope that this centre will be one that will help to quickly identify, isolate certain outbreaks we have”.

US Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan was joined by Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye to commission the center

US Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan stated that the support is to help strengthen Ghana’s resilience and response to Covid-19 and other emerging public health threats.

“The US government is through the CDC pleased to partner with the Government of Ghana to strengthen and expand laboratory diagnostic capabilities to cover all priority diseases and to make molecular testing easily accessible.

“This will allow the Sekondi laboratory to expand Covid-19 testing here in the Western Region. And with this addition, I strongly believe that the Region is ready to diagnose other diseases when called upon now and in the near future, when there will be an inevitable follow-on pandemic,” she added.

By Eric Yaw Adjei|Connect FM||Ghana