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Pause voter registration exercise to prevent more COVID-19 deaths – Health professionals to EC

Some health professionals in the country have written to the Electoral Commission asking the electoral management body to pause the ongoing voter registration exercise until safer ways of conducting the exercise are identified to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

According to them, suspending the exercise will help prevent needless Coronavirus deaths in the country.

“Pause the mass registration, figure out safer ways of carrying it out and prevent Ghana from suffering potentially thousands of deaths or continue with the exercise in this form and be remembered by posterity as a leader who supervised an exercise that allowed for the loss of multiple lives,” the group said in its letter to the commission.

The health professional comprising doctors, nurses, lab technicians among others, and numbering 221, had earlier petitioned the EC cautioning against the rollout of the mass registration for Voter ID cards over fears of COVID-19 death hikes.

According to them, the blatant disregard for the Coronavirus safety protocols in the exercise is inimical to the current public health crisis in the country.

In their second open letter to the EC, the health professionals say the Commission must rethink the compilation of the new register for the 2020 polls.

“We are by this letter appealing to your good self to pause this mass registration exercise until your commission comes up with a safer way of going about this registration. That will prevent the almost inevitable rise in COVID-19 cases, with its attendant increases in morbidity and mortality and will position you firmly on the right side of history, as a public official who chose to prevent needless deaths. We would entreat you to treat this correspondence with a lot of thought and measured reflection, thinking rightly about the primacy of life before any other considerations”, the letter said.

The Electoral Commission began processes to compile a new voters register for the 2020 general elections on June 30, 2020.

The exercise which is being held nationwide will end on August 6, 2020.

Few days after the exercise began, there have been concerns over the lack of social distancing and total disregard for COVID-19 safety protocols.

Despite calls for the exercise to be halted due to the increasing COVID-19 figures, the EC remains adamant.

Here is the full letter:
THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF GHANA
RIDGE-ACCRA
GHANA

July 6, 2020

ATTN: MRS. JEAN MENSA
CHAIRPERSON, THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF GHANA
Dear Madam,

A SECOND OPEN LETTER TO GHANA’S ELECTORAL COMMISSION: CONCERNS ABOUT A SURGE IN NEW
COVID-19 CASES AND MORTALITIES RESULTING FROM THE MASS REGISTRATION EXERCISE

We have noted with concern, the utter disregard for precautionary protocols intended to mitigate the
spread of COVID-19, in and around registration centers.

We wish to reiterate our arguments, made in an open letter to you, dated June 24,2020. In that letter, we provided multiple reasons why massing up people for the purpose of getting onto the electoral roll could lead to an increase in the infection rates and the number of deaths from the much-dreaded COVID-19. The response from officialdom was that all public health protocols and precautions against COVID-19 will be adhered to.

Unfortunately, ongoing events across the country have confirmed our worst fears. Considering the increasing number of infections coupled with challenges in testing for early identification of cases, it is disquieting to observe huge numbers of people at and around registration centers mostly ignoring precautionary protocols.

Indeed, we are aware of at least one incident of a person in full knowledge of his positive status, visiting registration centers and risking public health and safety. This is inimical to our fight against the pandemic and threatens to eliminate whatever successes we have chalked so far. These and many other reasons make it unconscionable that your commission ignores all caution and still proceeds with this exercise.

We will also take this opportunity to caution your good office about the consequences of a continuous rise in COVID- 19 cases on our already-wobbly health system. Reports indicate that the capacity of our isolation and holding centers have been stretched beyond limits by our increasing case count. Several hundreds of healthcare workers have been infected so far. Data from Ghana Health Service show that up to 25% of our reported COVID-19 cases were detected in the last month alone, a rather worrying indication of our worsening position as a country. The specific impacts of a continuous rise in COVID-19 cases on our already-wobbly health system would include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Intense pressure on all building blocks of all our health system. The sub-effects of this include:
    a. A significant reduction in the number of effective health workers available to render preventive, curative, and rehabilitative care for patients. This will occur because the already high number of infected health workers is likely to remain on that trajectory, with a concomitant increase in the number of deaths from COVID-19 if care is not taken. In addition, a higher number of specialist staff would be required to take care of the ever-increasing number of “sick people” with COVID-19 leading to even fewer health workers available to treat non- COVID-19 conditions.

b. Increasing pressure on our already inadequate health infrastructure. Already, many facilities are running out of bed space for not only COVID-19 patients, but also people seeking care for other conditions. The resultant effect of this will be that patients would be turned away from health facilities, with accompanying increases in morbidity and mortality. We do not want a worsening of the “no bed syndrome” in the middle of this pandemic.

c. A deterioration of health service delivery, owing to factors such as missed appointments, increasing stigma and self-medication with a decline in health outcomes. Many people we have interacted with have declined to go on their mandated reviews and have resorted to self-medication. This will potentially lead to complications and death, due to non-COVID-19 causes.

  1. Increasing morbidity and mortality, with attendant reduction in productivity. We have been informed of precautions your commission intends to take to minimize new infections. We respectfully submit that given the high levels of excitement generated during political activity, these will not be complied with. The first week of the exercise and the recent nationwide NPP primaries are a cautionary tale of what will transpire if our well-intentioned admonition is ignored. Hundreds of people massed up at multiple locations, ostensibly oblivious of the danger of close contact. We are reliably informed that several people who took part in this exercise have tested positive for COVID-19, with at least one death in the Ashanti region of Ghana.

We are by this letter appealing to your good self to pause this mass registration exercise until your commission comes up with a safer way of going about this registration. That will prevent the almost inevitable rise in COVID-19 cases, with its attendant increases in morbidity and mortality and will position you firmly on the right side of history, as a public official who chose to prevent needless deaths. We would entreat you to treat this correspondence with a lot of thought and measured reflection, thinking rightly about the primacy of life before any other considerations.

At this juncture, two choices lie before you:

  1. PAUSE the mass registration, figure out safer ways of carrying it out and prevent Ghana from suffering potentially thousands of deaths or
  2. CONTINUE with the exercise in this form and be remembered by posterity as a leader who supervised an exercise that allowed for the loss of multiple lives.

(Vetted and confirmed list of health workers who signed this petition, more complete list is available upon request)

  1. Dr. William Menson
  2. Dr. Gameli Aheto
  3. Dr. Enyam Woanyah
  4. Dr. Ernest Smith-Aidoo
  5. Dr. Dennis Bortey
  6. Dr. Eli Boni
  7. Dr Nene Vishnu Snr.
  8. Dr. Joojo Nyamekye-Baidoo
  9. Dr. Rebecca Hosi Abalo
  10. Dr. CHRISTOPHER KOMBAT
  11. Dr. George Akwetey
  12. Dr. Baybuah Bingy
  13. Dr. Maamette Appiah
  14. Dr. Anthony Eshun
  15. Dr. Marie Stella Essilfie
  16. Dr. Koma S Jehu-Appiah
  17. Dr. Pius Essandoh
  18. Dr. Melvin Agbogbatey
  19. Dr. Adjoa Ofei
  20. Dr. Abena Adjavon
  21. Dr. Roma Garner
  22. Dr. Akosua Asiedu-Asante
  23. Dr. Sylvester Mensah
  24. Dr. Alex Vico-Korda
  25. Dr. Benjamin Boafor
  26. Dr. Michael Sena Akabua
  27. Dr. Caleb Odotei
  28. Dr. Isaac Aboagye-Marfo
  29. Dr. Jacqueline Anita Sowah
  30. Dr Daniel Alifoe
  31. Dr Anne Interkudzi
  32. Dr. Risch Appiah
  33. Dr. Bernard Toboh
  34. Dr. Caleb Allotey
  35. Dr. George Mante
  36. Dr Owusu Ralph
  37. Dr Philip Sanjok
  38. Dr. Albert Agbi
  39. Dr Happiness Mikado
  40. Dr Emmanuel O Kponor
  41. Dr. Godwin Opuni
  42. Dr. Kwame Afram
  43. Dr. Sheilla Ansah
  44. Dr. Michael Yajachie
  45. Dr Sarah Braimah
  46. Dr Abena Tannor
  47. Dr F A Nana Prempeh
  48. Dr. Makafui Yigah
  49. Dr. Worlanyo Siale
  50. Dr. Jonathan Zobi
  51. Dr. Mohammed Rabiu Abdulai
  52. Dr. Eugene Odoi
  53. Dr Benjamin Goka
  54. Dr. Zaher Safadi
  55. Dr Abigail Mensah
  56. Dr Felix Sarpong
  57. Dr Esme Siriboe
  58. Dr Bernard Petershie
  59. Dr Theophilus Amoatey
  60. Dr Elorm Daketsey
  61. Dr Jemima Alemonai
  62. Dr Sefakor Doe
  63. Dr Anna Oduro
  64. Dr Faustina Amable
  65. Dr John-Paul Omuojine
  66. Dr Abdallah Yussif
  67. Dr Anthony Sallah
  68. Dr Ivan Dodd
  69. Dr Henry Akakpo
  70. Dr Ruth Clottey
  71. Dr Nana Agyemang
  72. Dr Senanu Kpekpo
  73. Dr. Edna Dasoberi Samani
  74. Dr. David Gobapen
  75. Dr. Tobias Ninnang
  76. Dr. Daniel Sottie
  77. Dr. Eric Tseklu
  78. Dr Anita Nagetey
  79. Dr Ransford Asante
  80. Dr Dunstan Akolbire
  81. Dr Priscilla Kabutey
  82. Dr Huberta Ewusie-Mensah
  83. Dr. Emmanuel Aleser
  84. Dr. Kofi Amoah
  85. Dr Baffour Otchere
  86. Dr. Dennis Appiah Bolfrey
  87. Dr Anthony Avoka
  88. Dr Mohammed Kudus
  89. Dr Janet Opare
  90. Dr Zoe Brew- Riverson
  91. Dr Freda Boateng
  92. Dr Philemon Andoh
  93. Dr Raphael Tufuor
  94. Dr. Albert Sedohia
  95. Dr. Eugene Martey
  96. Dr Kwasi Ofori-Anti
  97. Dr Sabina Esi Parry
  98. Dr Kwaku Denu
  99. Dr Esther Asante
  100. Dr Charles Sosu
  101. Dr Supriya Wassima
  102. Dr James Amoyaw Quashie-Sam
  103. Dr. Edinam Lumor
  104. Dr. Anastasia Bruce
  105. Dr Michelle Korang Ampadu
  106. Dr Pearl Obeng
  107. Dr Lorraine Baffour-Awuah ,
  108. Dr. Felix Addo
  109. Dr Ewoenam Dekportor
  110. Dr. Jeremiah Ankamah-Lomotey
  111. Dr Joel Bondorin
  112. Dr. Juliana Unicorn
  113. Dr. Ike Asiedu
  114. Fati Mahmoud Wattigi
  115. Florence Oyeh
  116. Joseph Agbetsise
  117. Yvonne Nutsugah
  118. Fuseini Abdul-majeed
  119. Festus Azaglo
  120. Duut Suuk Dynamic
  121. Seyram Lino
  122. Cleopatra Maddy
  123. Elijah Acquah
  124. Alex Tony-Aidoo
  125. Jeremiah Adjei
  126. Foster Konlan
  127. Ekow Kuntu-Blankson
  128. Livingstone Dablu
  129. Erica Buadii
  130. Ishmael Kuka
  131. Mary Buxton
  132. Lorna Lartey
  133. Nana Akua Asante
  134. Hafsatu Mohammed Awal
  135. Albert Ahli
  136. Naa Ayele Hammond
  137. Lily Quaynor
  138. Khardel Essandoh
  139. Wendy Eyiah-Mensah
  140. Cassandra Odum
  141. Wendolyn Etse
  142. Priscilla Mawutor Groponie
  143. Martha Ackah-Blay
  144. Ayibasa Michael
  145. Dina Woode ,
  146. Yvone Berks
  147. Priscilla Ansah-Abedi
  148. Wilhelmina Brown
  149. Agnes Achana
  150. Cynthia Akli-Nartey
  151. Barbara Garbrah
  152. Cynthia Lamisi Adongo
  153. Seidu Kamal
  154. Courage Kwame-Kumah
  155. Nana Kofi Owusu
  156. Theresa Barnes
  157. Dorcas Gyesi
  158. Perry Nelson
  159. Robert Quagraine
  160. Michael Abalo
  161. Christian Debrah
  162. Benjamin Adevu
  163. Linda Kedze
  164. Grace Etrue Selby
  165. William Assan
  166. Kwaku Manu
  167. Julius Kingslove
  168. Joel Anaman
  169. Naa Ayele Hammond
  170. Eugenia Lewu
  171. Hannah Acquah
  172. Victor adatsi
  173. Dennis Ansah
  174. Maryam Yakubu
  175. Clara Paintsil
  176. Mawuli Adzasoo
  177. Kofi Ekuban
  178. Henry Akpaloo
  179. Joe Delasie
  180. Mary Agamah
  181. Ben Idun
  182. Rukiatu Giwah
  183. Adjoa Quaicoe
  184. Ali Vaaru Ballu Nuhhu
  185. Lawrencia Law
  186. Paul Ayiku
  187. Daniel Darko
  188. Clement Awinbil
  189. Laila Babayara
  190. Aloysius Ali Angliengmene
  191. Maximous Diebieri
  192. Enoch Lamptey
  193. Mr Issah Sumaila
  194. Mr Joshua Kunfah
  195. Efua Biney
  196. Moses Kofi Woli
  197. Nana Bonsu
  198. Robert Adedze-Kpodo
  199. Grace Armah
  200. Henrietta Nettey
  201. Janine Vowotor
  202. Marian Mensah
  203. Nicholas Suglo
  204. Josephine Kwaw
  205. Francis Sanyare, PhD
  206. Herbert Henry Krakue
  207. Patrick Bumekpor-Sededzi
  208. Josephine Adjepong
  209. Timothy Baidoo
  210. Leonard Vidogah
  211. Alexis Banie
  212. Alexander Noi
  213. Deborah Munyuhitum
  214. Gifty Doe
  215. Konadu Kwarteng
  216. Samuel Sinkari
  217. Stephen Avoka
  218. Eugenia Yalevu
  219. Joseph Otchere
  220. Mohammed Sadat Baba
  221. George Taanan Jilignul

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