Infectious Disease Holding Units Installed at Four Border Posts in Ghana
IOM Ghana in partnership with the Government of Ghana installed four infectious disease holding units at Sampa and Elubo Points of Entry (border with Cote d'Ivoire), as well as the Hamile and Paga Points of Entry (border with Burkina Faso), to enhance the screening and surveillance capacities for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and other communicable diseases at these key border posts.
The holding units will facilitate the isolation of suspected cases of infectious diseases prior to their referral to the nearest health facilities for further management.
The holding units are equipped with examination couches, washrooms, hand washing sinks and a store room which is stocked with Personal Protective Equipment (including disposable gloves, disposable face masks, hand sanitizers, disposable aprons) as well as hygiene and cleaning equipment, and laser infra-red thermometers. The units also have their own individual sewer systems which are separate from the general public sewage system to avoid contamination.
The provision of these holding units comes as a result of a joint IOM/Ghana Health Service assessment of some selected major entry/exit points in Ghana to evaluate their EVD preparedness, which was carried out in May-June 2015.
While the team realized that the Aflao border had a structure for a holding unit which received some support by way of equipment, Sampa, Elubo, Paga and Hamile land borders did not have any holding sites to isolate suspected cases, and as such risked exposing travellers and border staff to infection from sick travellers. These units will go a long way to helping Port Health and other key border agencies to properly manage sick travellers with high infectivity at these points of entry.
Between February 19 and 24, the four holding units were handed over to the respective District Health Management Teams and District Assemblies. The handing over brought together Regional Directors of Health, District Directors of Health, District Chief Executives, District heads of the Ghana Immigration Service, Port Health Unit, Customs Division, Police Service as well as other stakeholders and opinion leaders.
The IOM Chief of Mission in Ghana, Sylvia Lopez-Ekra participated in the handing over ceremony that took place in Sampa on 19 February 2016. On this occasion she reiterated the need to ensure that frontline Port Health Officers work in the best conditions of safety and effectiveness possible, but also stressed the importance of interacting with sick travelers in a way that fully respects their dignity and is non-stigmatizing.
“The Ebola epidemic in West Africa taught us two important things: First that the spread of Ebola was fueled among other things by the inability to control and screen population movements across borders, and second, that sick travelers should be swiftly identified and cared for with extra caution. With these new infectious disease holding units we are making an important contribution to addressing those two issues,” she said.
These activities are part of the IOM Ghana EVD Preparedness programme implemented since April 2015. The programme supports the government of Ghana's efforts to prevent outbreaks of EVD and other infectious diseases, and to strengthening the capacity of border officials to conduct EVD surveillance.
The programme also protects frontline officers through the provision of protective and hand washing equipment, and EVD related screening and infection control procedures training and guidelines on the distribution of Health Declaration Forms.