, 31 March, 2020 / 6:55 AM
As health facilities grapple with a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19 and the increasing number of people infected with the disease, the Catholic Church in Ghana has launched an appeal inviting all Catholics to donate protective equipment and other medical supplies to support the 46 Hospitals and the 83 Clinics run by the Church under the National Catholic Health Service in the fight against the pandemic.
“The National Catholic Secretariat has the blessing of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) to make this special appeal to all catholic organizations, businesses, the faithful and any person who stands in a position to assist (in) one way or the other by way of donating any of the PPEs,” said Fr. Lazarus Anondee, Secretary General of the National Catholic Secretariat (NCS), in an appeal letter dated March 27, that was circulated to the Catholic faithful in the West African country.
The appeal is part of a nine-month National Emergency Response Plan for COVID-19 being championed by Caritas Ghana, the Relief and Humanitarian Agency of GCBC.
The PPEs to be donated to the Catholic Health facilities include non-disposable isolation gowns, face masks, aprons, helmets, safety glasses/goggles, hand sanitizers, safety boots, gloves, disposable isolation gowns, methylated spirit and gun thermometers.
“In these times of COVID-19 pandemic, there is the need for people all over the world and Ghana in particular, to live exemplary Christ-like lives by extending love, kindness and care to those that are most affected or in the line of high risk to the deadly COVID-19,” said Fr. Anondee.
In the letter, the Ghanaian clerics calls upon potential partners to donate either directly to any of the country’s Catholic-run medical facilities or to drop their donations at the Accra-based NCS.
According to the March 27 appeal letter seen by ACI Africa, resource constraints, global shortage of PPEs and other basic medical supplies stand in the way of preventing new infections and spread of COVID-19.
“This (shortage) particularly makes the situation grim for our health professionals whose jobs bring them face-to-face with the disease,” says Fr. Anondee.
The Priest commended “brave professionals in our midst” who he said had embraced their jobs as a calling to serve humanity and that “they do these at the peril of their own lives, those of their families and other patients.”
He also lauded the leadership of the Church in Ghana as well as the country’s government who he said were doing everything possible to make the PPEs available for use in hospitals but noted the scarcity that the facilities were grappling with.
According to Fr. Anondee, the Catholic Church in Ghana is preparing for a possible lockdown of the country as a measure to contain the spread of the deadly virus that has claimed the lives of at least 37,780 people globally.
“We also anticipate that in the case of a lockdown, the Secretariat has planned to feed and provide shelter for those in need especially in our cities,” he said.
On March 27, the President of Ghana announced, in his 4th nationwide televised address that movements in some urban areas in the country especially Accra and Kumasi will be restricted from Monday, March 30, for two weeks as part of government measures to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Samuel Zan Akologo, Executive Secretary of Caritas Ghana told ACI Africa correspondent in an interview March 28 that the nine-month (April to December 2020) National Emergency Response Plan for COVID-19 was put in place to ensure that the poor and vulnerable receive critical and basic services during this difficult time.
“Caritas Ghana is working with the Caritas Organizations of the affected Dioceses (Accra and Kumasi) to mobilize humanitarian services for the Homeless and most vulnerable who will be hardest hit by the lockdown,” Mr. Akologo said and added, “In the short term, Parishes in Accra are being approached to assist with places for shelter and feeding centers.”
According to the Caritas Ghana Executive Secretary, it is in times of humanitarian crises like this that the dignity of the poor must be upheld, promoted and protected.
He cautioned, “Caritas Ghana invokes its safeguarding policy to ensure that no harm is done to this social segment of great deprivation.”
Mr. Akologo noted that Caritas Ghana staff are coordinating all our efforts from their respective homes, adding that arrangements would be made with the Security Agencies to ensure access to the poor to provide them with critical services for their survival.
He said the main objective of the response plan was to contribute and support all Catholic health facilities to manage COVID-19, reach the faithful with spiritual and psychological support, and ensure basic needs support to vulnerable persons and households in a restricted environment (lockdown).
He said, “It is also to engage government proactively to provide resources and policy direction to managing COVID-19 and to target communities with genuine information on COVID-19 for social behaviour change.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa