The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has handed over a mobile laboratory it constructed to the Ghana Health Service at Paga in the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region to enhance healthcare delivery. The facility, built in partnership with the Government of Japan, has been fitted with the required equipment to detect, test and respond to various diseases and public health emergencies and risks. It was part of wider efforts to strengthen and build resilient health systems in the country, especially to prepare for emergencies and deliver on the promise of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Three similar laboratories have also been constructed at Aflao in the Volta Region, Elubo in the Western Region, and the Kotoka International Airport in Accra to equip Ghana’s borders and entry points with the logistics to detect and respond appropriately to public health risks and emergencies. Inaugurating the laboratory at the Paga border, Dr Angela Lusigi, the UNDP Resident Representative, acknowledged the significant role the country’s entry points played in the transport sector and the economic growth of the country. They also had the potential in disease surveillance, infection prevention and response to health emergencies when properly equipped. ‘While points of entry are of strategic importance to the country, we know that border communities and vulnerable populations are the most susceptible to economic, conflict and health related threats cross borders,’ she said. Dr Lusigi noted that the COVID-19 pandemic did not only expose the weakness of the country’s health system but was also a wake-up call to Ghana to invest in pandemic preparedness to detect and respond effectively to emergencies. ‘This mobile laboratory is part of our efforts to support the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to be able to add to the network they already have, to make sure that we are ready for pandemics such as COVID-19″. ‘So, this laboratory, especially the GeneXpert machine, will be able to test other diseases beyond SARS including HIV and TB,’ she said. ‘The most important thing is that we are strengthening the health system to be able to serve border communities and vulnerable population because we believe that health and development are linked.’ Dr Lusigi said apart from the training of about 80 personnel to help in the operations of the facilities, the UNDP and its partners were working with the GHS to strengthen digital health with the appropriate technology in place. Mr Alhassan Lawal, the Kassena-Nankana West District Director, GHS, said Paga, being a border town, exposed the district to infectious diseases hence the strategic location of the laboratory would significantly help in early detection and response to public health emergencies. ‘I am particularly happy because the laboratory has a GeneXpert machine because for a very long time we used to send our samples of TB, HIV among others to Navrongo, which was already over-burdened. But now we will be able to do COVID, TB and HIV testing among others here,’ he said. Mr Gerard Ataogye, the Kassena-Nankana West District Chief Executive, expressed gratitude to the UNDP and the Government of Japan for the lifesaving gesture and appealed to the GHS to put the facility into good use and ensure its maintenance for longer lifespan.
Source: Ghana News Agency