The International Human Rights Commission, Ghana has written to caution president Akuffo Addo on the Coronavirus/COVID 19 pandemic
Below is the statement to the president:
“The International Human Rights Commission has been monitoring closely, the government’s strategy used in curbing the Covid-19 pandemic in Ghana. We acknowledge Government’s initial efforts to bring the situation under control. We, however, write to caution that with the upsurge in infection rate and death, especially of some doctors who happen to be on the frontline of this fight, the government needs to implement the World Health Organisation protocols effectively in order to achieve better results.
According to our findings, about 862 health workers, including doctors have been infected, with three (3) of them losing their lives. In total, Ghana has recorded 23,643 infected cases (as of 9th July, 2020).
Records from both private and government ministries and major institutions in Ghana show that huge numbers of staff of these institutions have been infected and quarantined. These institutions, include Ghana Commercial Bank, Ghana Cocoa Board, Bank of Ghana, Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, Judiciary, etc.
Educational Institutions have also started recording numbers few weeks after the government released the restrictions.
Registration by the Electoral Commission of Ghana is another major concern to Ghanaians since it has the potential of exposing them to the pandemic.
IHRC believes that in spite of the good spirit fostering government’s initiatives aimed at combatting the pandemic, some actions taken by the government have as well had adverse effect on the fight against the pandemic. Some of these are:
· Lifting the lockdown at a period when the infection rate was still on the increase;
· Some of the economic reliefs supposed to enhance the restrictions given during the partial lockdown in Ghana to support people, especially the vulnerable, were left in the hands of politicians and were poorly managed;
· And the Registration by the Electoral Commission.
We advise that government should consider closing down these business organizations highly affected for at least one month, given the high recording cases in these organizations. It is imperative to ensure that High schools and tertiary institutions be shut down until the situation is brought under control before students are allowed to go back to school.
We have found out that staff of those institutions who have been infected with the virus and isolated are made to pay $90 a day per person. IHRC believes that the COVID 19 fund should be able to take care of this expenditure since it will have some negative economic effects on those institutions, particularly if the numbers keep soaring.
IHRC recommends that the government takes immediate steps to implement further restrictions in the worst affected regions. In order to have effective restrictions this time, we advise government to ensure that Ghanaians, especially the vulnerable have easy access to economic reliefs. By reliefs we mean people should be furnished with cash and food items (not cooked food) enough to sustain them for the period.
The IHRC, however, commends government for the three-month electricity and water relief packages. The IHRC admonishes the Government of Ghana to consider extending these relief packages in addition to the above-mentioned ones. The IHRC also commends all the organisations and individuals who have contributed both in kind and cash to the COVID-19 Fund and the fight against the pandemic in general.
In sum, Your Excellency, we urge you and your government to be more proactive in fighting the pandemic in Ghana in order to achieve better results, else Ghana will soon be in serious crisis.
AMB. PROF. MICHAEL KWATENG
COORDINATOR/SPECIAL ENVOY TO GHANA
Cc: UN High Commissioner on Human Rights
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