Ghana need to prepare adequately to deal with future pandemics, Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, the Presidential Co-ordinator of Government of Ghana’s Coronavirus Response Programme and former Deputy Director-General, World Health Organization, stated in Accra on Tuesday.
He said preparedness plays a crucial role to ensure that even in the face of a global health crisis, Ghanaians would continue to build the country.
Dr Asamoa-Baah appealed in a keynote address at the opening of the 72nd Annual New Year School and Conference at the University of Ghana on the theme: “Building Ghana in the Face of Global Health Crises”.
It is being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education, College of Education, University of Ghana.
“We live in an era of global health crises. We are going to experience more and more global health crises. The COVID-19 crisis will not be the last,” he said.
“What we refer to as global health crises are more than health crises. They start as health crises but quickly cascade into other crises. They are a mosaic of crises,” he noted.
He noted that because one was not dealing with a single crisis, it requires a complex sophisticated multi-sectorial, all government, all society approach; adding that it was a complex dance.
Dr Asamoa-Baah said: “The key to ensuring that we continue to grow as a people even in the face of a global health crisis is preparedness. It is not just preparedness in the health sector but also in all key sectors of our life.
“Crisis is also an opportunity. It is therefore important that we do not waste any crisis. We must put every crisis to good use.”
He said new infectious diseases were appearing or emerging at a rate that had not been seen before; saying “the last 40 years, we have seen 40 new infectious diseases – an average of one per year. It used to be one new disease in every eight to ten years”.
Dr Asamoa-Baah said in the health sector, the areas that require more capacity building were the capacity to detect unusual events, an early cluster of diseases, and to conduct epidemiological investigations, risk assessment and data management.
Dr Asamoa-Baah said in the education sector, COVID had brought home the importance of out of school learning; saying “online learning, broadband access should be basic”.
He said the digital divide became more evident during the pandemic and that remote learning had been tough for those who had a deal with the challenge such as learning disabilities and younger children.