A former medical director of the Greater Accra Regional Hospital (Ridge), Dr Thomas Winsum Anabah, is accusing the government of massaging COVID-19 figures, alleging the caseload is over 40,000.
According to the Ghana Health Service, as at Tuesday, July 21, 2020 the country has recorded 559 new Coronavirus infections pushing the case count to 28,989 while the death toll stands at 153.
However, in a write-up, Dr. Anabah, who is currently the executive director of the African Center for Health Policy Research and Analysis (ACH- PRA), said: “It would not be wrong for one to conclude that the apparent decline we see in the COVID 19 active cases is deliberately engineered by the state to cover up for its own mismanagement of the pandemic and avoid being blamed for allowing the voters registration and reopening of school to add more injuries to the pandemic.
“Inasmuch we are unable to calculate the exact positivity rate of COVID 19 in Ghana, we can still use the reason assigned to the abandoning of the pooling method for testing samples to calculate the possible number of samples that would have turned positive out of the 26,000 backlogged samples. Going by the minimum number, if for every 10 samples pooled together, 5 test positive to COVID 19, it means 50% of the 26,000, that is a hooping 13,000 positive new case have been missed by our laboratories. If you add this figure to the existing 28,989 positive cases, Ghana should be talking of 41,989 positive cases.”
Below is the full write-up:
There is a saying that ‘it takes wisemen years to build a city, and takes one foolish man a minute to destroy it’ This is the case of Ghana Health Service and our reputable Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research. The manner in which government is handling the coronavirus pandemic is making many people especially those in research to lose trust in institutions that have spent years to built their envious reputation.
Last Sunday press briefing on coronavirus organized by the ministry of information was seized by seasoned scientist and technocrats to exhibit dishonesty to the highest level. Why do we say this? It is because the falsehood churned out by the presenters on that very day can lead to mass infection of people of COVID 19, give government false hope about the state of COVID 19 in the country which will lead to change in attention on same, increase mortality from COVID 19 and lastly, cause people to call for return to normalcy of our usual activities.
In that press briefing, the minister for information officially informed us of government new strategy in managing the pandemic by enumerating the five key strategies (stop the importation of the virus, contain the spread of the virus, provide adequate care for the sick, limit the impact on the socio-economic wellbeing of Ghanaians and lastly produce some of the items needed to fight the pandemic).
If these are the new strategies from government, I can confidently say the government does not really know what they have been doing. These cannot be new strategies, they have been doing this for God knows how long, just that they have not been doing it well, shambolic to be charitable .
Substantively, the issue regarding the COVID 19 figures must be of serious concern to all and Sundry.
You would recall that, at the beginning of the pandemic in Ghana, Prof William Ampofo, the coordinator of the Ghana’s COVID-19 testing programme told us they were using a method call polling to speed up testing and save reagents. This technique was criticized by several scientists but they insisted it was effective and continued to use it. However, this is no longer the case as all pooled samples are positive; meaning the positivity rate has gone up and that method has become less effective. Five to eight out of ten in each pooled sample sample result to be positive of coronavirus. In other words, for every thousand samples five hundred at least would test positive. If that is not true, how come they haven’t deployed that technique to clear the backlog of 26,000 sample and government is struggling to buy more reagents and PCR machines? Again, if really our case numbers are in a decline why buy more machine to open more centres for testing?
In the mouth of Prof William Ampofo , he made us to understand coronavirus testing capacity was back on track. Meaning there was a decline in number of sample testing. What he failed to do was to tell us the implication of the challenges they faced in the past six weeks regarding testing, when they employed selective methods in testing sample resulting in a backlog of about 26,000 samples. As a scientist of repute, Prof William Ampofo, should have told us how this has affected the numbers of positive/active cases in the country. But he failed to do the honourable thing. His scientific dishonesty was followed by frightening revelations from the Director General of the GHS who equally misled the service by reporting that, 488 new cases recorded on July 19 2020 was from samples taken between the period of June 13 to July 13, 2020 but reported from the laboratory on July 14.
Can the Director General of the GHS tell us why he had a teleconference with his regional directors on Thursday July 16? What was the total figure of backlog of COVID 19 samples reported to him? Did he instruct that all samples taken beyond 14 days should not be tested? So why is the DG telling Ghanaians that only 488 out of the several thousands were positive of COVIV 19? So where did he get his figures to tell Ghanaians Ghana’s coronavirus cases witnessing steep decline if he know of the huge backlog that can give him more positive cases? It is obvious history is repeating itself and from the same service. If you cast your minds back some three months ago, the director of Public Health of this same GHS told us in one of their press briefings ‘Ghana had reached its peak for COVID 19’. This turned out to be a big fallacy. There is no doubt this latest announcement from the DG himself, will not live to see the light of day.
It would not be wrong for one to conclude that the apparent decline we see in the COVID 19 active cases is deliberately engineered by the state to cover up for its own mismanagement of the pandemic and avoid being blamed for allowing the voters registration and reopening of school to add more injuries to the pandemic.
Inasmuch we are unable to calculate the exact positivity rate of COVID 19 in Ghana, we can still use the reason assigned to the abandoning of the pooling method for testing samples to calculate the possible number of samples that would have turned positive out of the 26,000 backlogged samples. Going by the minimum number, if for every 10 samples pooled together, 5 test positive to COVID 19, it means 50% of the 26,000, that is a hooping 13,000 positive new case have been missed by our laboratories. If you add this figure to the existing 28,989 positive cases, Ghana should be talking of 41,989 positive cases.
This figure of 41,989 means a lot to public health workers and Ghanaians at large, in the sense that a lot of asymptomatic cases are walking about and infesting more people and a lot may be dying undiagnosed.
At this point, we will urge government to take off its evil hands used to control laboratory testing. The issue is very simple and one does not need to go to the moon to know whether there is underhand dealing in the covid 19 figures or not. This is how our government is massaging the figures?
It does that by deploying any of the following methods; denying the laboratories reagents and PPEs, refusing to release allowances to frontliners in the laboratories to reign in apathy, allowing only government trusted scientists to be engaged in testing samples, creating a serious backlog that renders some of the samples impotent , controlling what figure to release and at what time, last but not least, badly influencing some of the staff for political expediency to the detriment of the masses wellbeing.
All these antics are deployed to manipulate figures seeking to paint a good picture of government as though it’s doing well regarding the fight against COVID 19.
Fellow countrymen, it is high time we took extra care of ourselves against covid 19 because government has completely lost control of the steer. Politics have now invaded all public institutions including the brains of our scientists and technocrats.
ACH-PRA is keenly monitoring and actively researching and wishes to admonish government to desist from spewing deceptions regarding our health issues which is CRITICAL.
By Dr Thomas Winsum Anabah, Executive Director, ACH-PRA