The Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu has confirmed that the disinfection of containers at the various ports and points of entry and exit in the country would commence in the 3rd week of February 2019.
According to the Minister, the scope of the disinfection exercise has also been expanded to cover various markets and Senior High Schools across the country, in order to allow for the majority of the Ghanaian people to benefit from the policy.
‘’We are trying to add on the project. We are trying push in to add on schools and some selected markets to do the disinfection as part of our sanitation efforts to clean the cities and our markets of filth and diseases. We are doing all these things as part of our prevention mechanisms to try to ensure that we don’t get ill so easily, we don’t get afflicted with diseases that can be prevented. So when you disinfect, it’s like you are not allowing infectious diseases to come in. That is one sure way that we can protect our citizenry from getting some diseases that we don’t anticipate to get’’ he said.
The Minister who together with the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, officials of the Port Health Unit, representatives of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Officials from the Association of Customs House Agents, representatives of the Importers and Exporters Association, the Food and Beverages Association of Ghana and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority among others toured the disinfection tunnels in the port of Tema expressed satisfaction at the inroads made so far and was optimistic that actual disinfection would begin within two weeks.
‘’So far we are happy with the installations that have been mounted and we are meeting with all stakeholders to ensure that we can start this thing smoothly without any agitations and things like that’’ he told the media.
According to the Minister, issues relating to the cost and parliamentary approval have all been sorted out, adding the ongoing stakeholder engagements will be concluded soon to allow for the take-off.
Mr. Agyeman-Manu said the move was important for the country at this moment as it will help prevent issues such as stopping containers from Ghana from entering other ports in the near future, emanating from non-compliance with the WHO directive.
‘’This is a must do operation. Ghana has signed on as a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and this should have been done years back. Disinfecting containers and other cargoes passing through our ports (coming in and going out) and we haven’t been able to do the installations to get this thing done. The country hasn’t been very strict on these issues but the world is moving and we have to move as well. There is some little compulsion on the part of WHO to ensure that we also comply with resolutions and other agreements that we have signed unto’’.
The move comes as good news to the various Senior High Schools most of which are grappling with the age long issue of bed bugs.
The Ghana Education Service recently described the invasion bed bugs in the various Senior High Schools as a serious health issue that needs to be tackled head on.
The phenomenon has negatively impacted teaching and learning and mostly rendered the vulnerable students ill thereby affecting their academic output.
The coverage of the various Senior High Schools by the disinfection policy therefore comes in handy, as it will ensure the issue of bed begs become a thing of the past in the various schools.
The Markets on the other hand are also going to gain their fair share of benefit from the disinfection exercise as it will help improve hygiene and sanitation within the market centres and where the foods and other consumables are displayed.
This will ensure that both traders and people who patronize their goods are insulated from getting the foods and consumables contaminated.
The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare on his part opined that ‘’it is International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 and it is for our own good. We are doing disease surveillance and disease control and so we have to control anything coming into the country and as you know, now the world is a small village and so anything that is happening in other ports could come here within a matter days or hours. So that is the reason why port health is here to make sure that anything which is entering our ports, we make sure we don’t import diseases because they don’t need visa to come into the country. I am happy that Ghana is joining the international world. This is one of the first countries in sub Saharan Africa to do this and that is a plus for everybody. It is going to help everybody in this country’’.
The Chief Executive Officer of LCB Worldwide Ghana the company contracted by government to undertake the disinfection exercise, Kareem Abu told the media the 7 tunnels installed at the Port of Tema are modern state-of-the-art tunnels and are comparable to those in New Zealand, Japan and beyond.
According to him the tunnels have been installed in and out at all exit points to service all cars, vans and trucks that come in and out.