By Allen Anie – Head of Experimentation, UNDP Accelerator Lab Ghana
Mitigating COVID-19 by way of Innovation: Views from Ghana
Ghana, like many nations throughout the globe, is wrestling with COVID-19. Predictions are that along with the well being disaster, social and financial implications for Africa shall be extreme with out efficient measures to cease the unfold. The United Nations Improvement Programme (UNDP) has arrange a Speedy Response Facility for susceptible nations together with in Africa. In Ghana, the UN’s response to the well being disaster is led by the World Well being Organisation (WHO) whereas UNDP leads on the socio-economic response. UNDP is supporting the well being care system to handle hazardous medical waste successfully and dealing with the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) to evaluate COVID-19’s socio-economic impacts and establish restoration pathways. Different areas of focus embody inclusive communication about dangers, safe-guarding human rights and defending susceptible teams.
Resilience and creativity are crucial to preventing COVID-19 and UNDP’s world community of Accelerator Labs (AccLabs) is uniquely positioned to help innovation presently. On this weblog, the AccLab (Ghana) outlines rising native improvements and a forthcoming AccLab Innovation Problem to help the innovation ecosystem.
Communication is key
All Authorities communication regarding COVID-19 is coordinated by the Ministry of Data, by way of digital and conventional channels. Given Ghana’s excessive cellular utilization, (subscription penetration* was 136.7% in 2018) digital channels function closely.
Authorities has rolled out digital options to disseminate data and sort out the “infodemic” of false claims, together with a 24/7 Coronavirus 311 Data Service helpline and WhatsApp chatbot. The Ministry of Well being supplies updates by way of Ghana Well being Service’s web site. In line with Amazon’s internet insights instrument Alexa, web visitors on the web site has risen exponentially (by about 500%) since COVID-19 index instances have been introduced on 12 March 2020.
The general public receives each day SMS tips on precautionary measures together with hygiene, psychological and bodily well-being and stopping stigmatisation.
Different digital platforms embody twitter handles for the Ministry of Well being and Illness Surveillance Division (DSD). To help the Authorities’s efforts, UNDP can be operating a social media marketing campaign about COVID-19 info, preventive measures. and actions to take when signs develop.
Observing precautionary measures, assessing signs and getting assist
There’s public schooling about precautionary measures, together with frequent hand washing with cleaning soap underneath operating water, however 6 million Ghanaians (1 in 5 of the inhabitants) don’t have quick access to wash water, so compliance might be tough. An answer is the ever present “Veronica Bucket”, which was designed years in the past by a Ghanaian inventor. This contains a bucket with a faucet, above a receptacle, to allow correct handwashing. One other answer is an automatic photo voltaic powered hand washer.
Ghana’s President, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo has famous: “The front-line to the corona virus is your entrance door …. keep at house”. Social distancing measures are in place to cut back COVID-19 transmission. On the macro-level, an analytical instrument developed by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) and Vodafone (Ghana) Ltd. makes use of anonymised, aggregated cellular information to estimate inhabitants actions. This might assist in monitoring compliance with mobility restrictions if required.
Following latest Authorities guidelines, persons are carrying material nostril masks (not surgical or N95 masks for well being care employees), whereas sustaining social distancing protocols.
Some entrepreneurs are producing and distributing free masks to native communities. Ghana’s Meals and Medication Authority has authorised chosen native corporations to fabricate nostril masks of the appropriate high quality. StopCovid19Ghana.org, a citizen-led initiative, can be utilizing social media platforms to help communities by way of the pandemic.
Authorities has launched a COVID-19 Tracker App, which permits customers to enter their contact data and coronavirus signs they might have in order that well being officers can contact them. There’s additionally a home-grown Corona Virus Evaluation Software to assist in assessing signs and in figuring out when medical assistance is required.
In collaboration with a personal diagnostics firm, the Kwame Nkrumah College of Science and Expertise (KNUST), has developed a Speedy Diagnostic Check (RDT) for COVID-19. If authorised by regulatory our bodies, this might considerably increase Ghana’s present testing regime. Drones are additionally getting used as a quicker technique of transporting COVID-19 take a look at samples from well being services in distant areas to testing laboratories. Scientists on the College of Ghana have additionally efficiently obtained crucial information about SARS-Cov-2’s genetic composition. This genome sequencing can strengthen the monitoring of virus mutations and assist with the tracing of neighborhood infections.
For the reason that pandemic started there have been issues globally concerning the provide of the ventilators that are used to handle COVID 19 instances. Ghana, like many different nations, is constructing its shares of ventilators and native innovators have designed low-cost ventilator prototypes made out of repurposed pipes and motors.
Whereas some nations throughout the globe are step by step rising from strict lockdown procedures there stays an pressing want for everybody to stick to well being protocols. A younger Ghanaian innovator has developed a disinfection chamber which detects when an individual enters the chamber and sprays a disinfectant mist over your entire physique. This may be put in in public areas comparable to faculties, markets or hospitals to enhance different precautionary measures.
Exploring, testing and scaling up COVID-19 improvements in Ghana
Many inventions have emerged in Ghana to mitigate the dangers of COVID-19 and these require additional exploration, testing and scaling up as acceptable. On this regard, the AccLab in Ghana is planning an Innovation Problem to help grassroots options and Ghana’s innovation ecosystem.
*The Report, Ghana 2019, Oxford Enterprise Group