Adapting Beyond COVID-19
In these challenging days, we are encouraged to know that we are not forgotten by our faithful friends and partners. Thank you for your prayers.
We know you are wondering about the impact of COVID-19 on Ghana and especially the NEA staff, as they work to adapt projects in light of the changes this has brought to our world. We are adapting and working in these new circumstances and continue to look forward, with joyful anticipation, to the official opening of the Leyaata Hospital!
On March 8, the last night that the nearly 200 Christian chiefs were at Carpenter for their annual conference, I felt compelled to share that we were hearing of an unusual virus in China that seemed to be spreading to other countries. I had been reading of the precautions that needed to be taken and passed on these details to the chiefs before the meeting closed. At that point, we had no idea what we were yet to face. Over the last few weeks, we have contacted all the chiefs to inquire about how they and their communities are managing. Many told us that they had immediately set up ‘handwashing’ stations at their meeting places and that they were taking the advice given very seriously.
Ghana’s case numbers of COVID-19 are rising – but more slowly than originally projected. At the time of writing, the number of cases recorded stands at 9,910 and the number of deaths at 48. Most of the cases reported were from incoming travellers and people with whom they were in contact. In late March, Ghana swiftly closed the airport to travel
Perhaps one of NEA’s greatest strengths is its ability to adapt. Here’s how we’ve been doing that in various sectors.
At the project site, all staff who live outside were asked to take their annual vacation. This proved advantageous since the rains had commenced, and those off-site could use the time to plant their summer gardens. It also reduced movement in and out of the project site, thereby reducing the likelihood of virus spread. Hand-washing facilities are set up at the front gate for essential visits. On-site staff are responsible for maintaining the animal husbandry and gardening programs. Eggs are still being sold, but that takes place outside the gate, by masked employees.
GROWING A FUTURE
Since schools are closed students who are part of the Growing A Future Project, are able to work on their gardens. They are harvesting and selling fresh vegetables in their villages. Providing
LEYAATA ANE (Maternal & Child Health Program)
In collaboration (via phone) with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, NEA suspended visits to villages and health centres for this project. Fortunately, we were able to complete the delivery of all the maternal medical test kits needed by the health facilities for this semester before the suspension.
Volunteers in 160+ communities were supplied with mobile phones early in the program so that they could communicate with the Leyaata team and health facilities. The volunteers communicate with the closest health care providers regarding any referred mothers and babies who require urgent attention.
We have also sent messages through local radio stations about symptoms, spread and prevention of the virus along with encouragement
for expectant mothers to:
- Keep attending monthly clinics
- To sleep under treated mosquito nets
- To aim for facility delivery and to quickly report to the nearest health facility in case of complications during pregnancy or danger of signs in babies
Reports from the volunteers and the health professionals indicate that this advice is being followed.
As schools are still closed, the work with adolescents is the one aspect of the program that is on hold; however, the 30 clubs that were established last September had completed all the training modules before the closing took place. We are currently unable to conduct follow-up on the impact of the training.
Work was stopped on both the hospital and dormitory construction – mainly because supervising engineers and materials come from Kumasi or Accra.
This ‘downtime’ was used to finalize details with multiple contractors for the next stage of work. The buildings are now ready for all the piping that needs to be done prior to plastering the walls – plumbing, electrical, air-conditioning, IT, water system (wells, water purification, rainwater storage) oxygen and gas.
Work resumed on May 1 with a meeting of department representatives to plan for installation while respecting rules about distancing. Roofers returned to finish assembling and erecting the trusses, followed by the roofing to complete some of the buildings. Only small groups are working on the buildings, and the workers are staying at the hospital site to limit movement and reduce the
Several years ago, when we were diligently working on the ‘Hospital Feasibility Study,’ one of the team members, Dr. Rob Drury, was involved in hospital accreditation on a global scale.
He recommended an important change to the entrance of the hospital – the addition of an enclosed room with a back door – so that in the event of an epidemic, anyone presenting with symptoms could be isolated in that room, and emergency department alerted. Medical staff, outfitted in PPE would enter the room from the back door to do a preliminary assessment of the patient and, if necessary, take the patient out the back door to an isolation unit.
While we hope we will never need to use this room, we realize now what a critical piece of advice this was for the Leyaata Hospital.
Dormitory construction has recommenced with a smaller group of on-site workers. The building team is close to bringing the structure to the roofing level.
Following physical distancing, our three staff members (one on the bulldozer, one on the excavator and one with the pick-up truck to ensure there is adequate fuel for the equipment) were able to complete the construction of two dams.
ECAC CHURCHES & LEADERS
As churches were closed in Ghana, ECAC has found innovative ways of staying connected. Each Sunday, I preach using my phone. Our tech team has devised a system to patch in four people in every connection made. Through this, we are reaching the churches in most of our 40+ communities. It has been amazing to see that this unusual way of meeting together is strengthening our relationships.
I suppose I could have just told you that we are praying fervently for God’s mercy and acting responsibly out of love for one another as I’m sure you all are doing as well, but I felt you needed a few more details of how we are doing this in Ghana.
May God watch over each of you. You are also in our prayers. We are especially praying for all our health team members who are providing care for those affected by this virus daily.
Dr. David Mensah
GRID & NEA Executive Director
COVID-19 IMPACT ON FUNDRAISING
As a consequence of COVID-19, donations to our ‘Where Most Needed’ fund