The Netherlands Government has commended the Government of Ghana for the forthrightness in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic since its outbreak in the country.
The Ambassador of The Kingdom of The Netherlands, H.E. Ambassador Ron Strikker, has praised the Ghana Government for showing the strong political will and taking very timely decisions in the interest of the safety and wellbeing of Ghanaian citizens.
He said beyond the several health interventions, the Dutch Government has noted with great admiration the far-reaching socio-economic interventions introduced by the Government of Ghana to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on Ghanaians especially the poor.
Establishment of National Quality Assurance Program for COVID-19 Testing Laboratories
H.E. Ambassador Ron Striker is convinced that the strong partnership between the Ghanaian health authorities and the Dutch Government has helped improve the quality of COVID-19 test results in Ghana.
He said this partnership with the Ghanaian Government is part of efforts to support the 23 COVID-19 testing laboratories in the country to enable them to deliver results that meet the global standards, regardless of their location in the country.
Since Ghana recorded its first two coronavirus cases in March 2020, there have been several efforts towards expanding the country’s testing capacity so as to provide timely and accurate data on the extent of the spread of the virus within the population.
These efforts, though significantly useful, have been sometimes hampered by the limitations in compliance with standardized operational testing protocols, and efficient data processing and transmission systems for COVID-19 test results.
“I am personally proud of the work done by the Ministry of Health, GHS National Laboratory Network for COVID-19 Testing, FDA, HeFRA and PharmAccess Foundation.”
Measuring proficiency of the COVID-19 laboratory test and results
According to Ron Strikker the National Quality Assurance Program (NQAP) for COVID-19 testing laboratories is designed to further strengthen and maintain the capacity of Ghanaian laboratories in the area of the accuracy of test results in all COVID-19 testing laboratories as well as effective data management of test results.
He said, ‘You need to have quality standards for arriving at test results. Because you may have conducted the COVID-19 tests, but how do you get to know they are accurate?”
He said, through our work with partners including the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, National Laboratory Network for COVID-19 Testing, Food & Drugs Authority, Health Facilities Regulatory Agency, and PharmAccess Foundation, we have been able to ensure that there are protocols, uniformity, and standards in all the laboratories conducting COVID-19 tests in Ghana.
He explained that “A lot of blind-testing were done to make sure that if you present a variety of test result…let’s say 10, to one laboratory, you will get the same results as when you present it to another laboratory most of the laboratories proved very proficient at this, I think it is a fantastic achievement.” Ron Strikker said.
Two agencies; the Health Facilities Regulatory Authority (HeFRA) and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) have the capacity to enforce the maintenance of these NQAP standards to guarantee uniformity in COVID-19 test results in Ghana now and in the coming years. That is important.’ Ron Strikker noted.
The Netherlands government supports vaccination drive through Covax vaccines
As a member of the European Union which is the highest donor to the COVAX facility, the Dutch Government is committed to contributing to the agenda of making the COVID-19 vaccines available to every country in the world, regardless of its economic status.
Having contributed to COVAX, the platform which plans to provide free vaccines for about twenty percent of Ghana’s population, Ron Strikker said the Dutch Government is impressed by the efforts of the Government of Ghana.
He added, “I am excited about the delivery of some 600,000 doses of the Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccines in the country on February 24, 2021.”
“I think Ghana was the very first country in the world to receive the vaccines under the COVAX facility.”
Ron Strikker emphasized that the fact that the people of the Netherlands and other parts of Europe may have more money in their countries than Ghana and other countries on the African continent, does not mean they should have access to the vaccines ahead of everybody else in Africa.
Ron Strikker stressed, “We are not safe until everyone is safe.”