The late Kofi Annan once told the world that “We shall not defeat any of the infectious diseases that plague the developing world until we have also won the battle for safe drinking water, sanitation, and basic health care.”
Ever since the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19 disease) was recorded in Ghana on the 12th of March, the issue of sanitation has become more topical than ever because of the lethal nature of the disease. It knows and respects no man! To put it simply, “e go fit catch anybody!” *Ghanaian pidgin English*
The Covid-19 entered our country through the Kotoka International Airport, two persons coming back from Norway and Turkey were the carriers. Today, April 29, our confirmed cases sit at 1671 (the highest in the west coast) with 188 recoveries and 16 deaths. Sad!
With the disinfection exercise carried out on Tuesday at the Kotoka airport and to be replicated in the remaining airports, it became quite clear, that once again we have been reminded of the need to be clean. It used to be the outbreak of cholera from time to time that would scare the heck out of authorities to act. Well now it’s coronavirus (corona)!
Our maintenance culture is extremely poor (that’s my fear). But do we even have one? Well it is sad to ask but we are fond of starting things and making all the noise and then abandoning them like a wrecked ship. What happened to the monthly national sanitation day activities? The noise surrounding it is dead. We hardly hear authorities getting people involved.
In 2014 when cholera broke out in a manner we seldom anticipated, the urgency with which it was tackled was admirable (although difficult to deal with) and measures initiated to prevent another outbreak were commendable.
Unfortunately, we all went to sleep. Good or bad, corona has woken us up and we must learn to stay awake. If we want to sleep on something, it’s not corona.
Covid-19 is not as a result of our uncleanliness, rather, it was imported. We are now faced with the challenge of dealing with it in order to properly contain the spread and effectively bend the curve. China, the cradle of the novel coronavirus, has now dealt with it. We can also do it!
The facilities we have cannot be compared to those in the advanced countries, however they are all we have. How life is going to be in Ghana after the defeat of this deadly virus is a matter of concern. This is because we seem to be doing the needful, just as we did in 2014, but we are likely to relax on sanitation issues just as we have done since 2014. I hope not.
Indeed, this is a virus that must kill our poor maintenance culture and leave us with no option than to maintain the new normal as far as sanitation is concerned.
Disinfection of our airports and all places of gathering should not be a nine-day wonder. The aftermath of the coronavirus must be promising. The new normal must be imbibed and continued at all cost. Realistic infrastructural investment should be made in the health sector because we all do not know when the next pandemic would occur. We better start early and maintain it, or else, we become experts in theorizing conspiracies.
The great Kofi Annan could not have put it any better. But if he was to give me the privilege of altering his great words to the developing countries like Ghana, I would say “We shall not defeat any of the infectious diseases that plague the developing world until we have also won the battle for safe drinking water, sanitation, basic health care and having an unswerving maintenance culture to safeguard them.”