Voter Registration: Pause Exercise To Prevent More COVID-19 Deaths – Over 200 Health Professionals Tells 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 the virus

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.

2. 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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