Infectious diseases affect millions of people across sub-Saharan Africa and are major causes of morbidity and mortality. In Ghana, aside their devastating impact on individuals, families and communities, infectious diseases have socio-economic impact in terms of healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Regrettably, the COVID-19 pandemic further strained our health systems, disrupted business and supply chain processes, impacted incomes and families with over 1,404 and 5.71million lives lost in Ghana and globally respectively.
To help mitigate these challenges and rebuild resilient lives and communities, Newmont, in 2020, set up its US$20 million Global COVID-19 Fund to address the needs of host communities, government and health institutions. The Fund has supported various interventions to reduce the spread of the infection and related mortalities.
With the world grappling with the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Newmont Ghana in keeping with the purpose of creating value and improving lives, has handed over two (Polymerase Chain Reaction) PCR laboratories, worth GH¢2 million, to the Ghana Health Service as part of the company’s contribution to the national COVID-19 management efforts and for the testing of other infectious diseases.
The laboratories, established through intergovernmental collaboration with the Ghana Health Service, Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR) and the Regional and District Directors of Health Services, are situated in the Kenyasi Health Centre of the Asutifi North District and the New Abirem Government Hospital in the Birim North District of the Ahafo and Eastern regions, respectively.
The PCR labs are expected to directly serve the residents of the two districts with a population of over 150,000 (GSS 2021) as well as adjoining districts, reducing the over-reliance on the main testing centres for infectious diseases in the country. The labs will ensure increased and quicker testing for COVID-19, helping in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, while also supporting the detection of other infectious diseases such as meningitis, hepatitis, yellow fever and malaria.
At a brief virtual ceremony to hand over the PCR labs, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, acknowledged the value of the collaboration between Newmont and the partners, describing it as “phenomenal and significant to the efforts against infectious diseases.” He thanked Newmont for their considerable support adding that “since the advent of COVID-19, we have learnt how to work together effectively with the private sector. We hope that this continues so that we can all build a robust national healthcare delivery system.”
Newmont Africa’s Vice President, Sustainability and External Relations, Adiki O. Ayitevie, commended the partners who collaborated with Newmont to complete the project. She recognised the commitment of Newmont in making the initiative a reality. “It is an honour to support the national effort against the pandemic with the setting up of the PCR labs. This is a milestone in healthcare delivery for the two districts and Newmont is certain that this will bring a great deal of relief to residents in our communities as well as the major testing centres in the country,” she stated.
Recounting the journey, the Scientific Director of KCCR, Prof. Richard Phillips, acknowledged Newmont Ghana’s generosity, the technical expertise of KCCR’s local researchers and the administrative acumen of the GHS (through the regional and district health directorates). He indicated that the successful completion of the PCR laboratories and training of the laboratory personnel was a testament to the power of collaboration. He was optimistic that the laboratories will serve a greater purpose beyond the pandemic.