The Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists (GAMLS) has advised its members who are trained to collect samples from COVID-19 suspects to “remove themselves” if the needed protective equipment are not provided to them.
This comes after the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives’ Association issued similar directive to their members.
Ghana has recorded four new cases of COVID-19 bringing the total confirmed cases to six.
In a statement to its members, GAMLS urged the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service to adequately resource medical laboratories with personal protective equipment (PPE), sample collection tubes and other materials needed for sample collection and transportation.
The statement further noted the following:
• Medical Laboratory Scientists should be trained to collect the appropriate samples. Only those trained as part of the emergency response team should engage in the collection, packaging, labelling and transportation of samples from patients suspected with COVID-19.
• The professional body has prescribed to all members to strictly adhere to Good Laboratory Practices. All laboratory managers and supervisors must ensure that PPEs are available for use by all staff, most especially when dealing with suspected COVID-19 patients.
• In situations where these PPEs are unavailable, we STRONGLY ADVISE our members to protect their lives by withdrawing from such environments.
• The Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service should facilitate the training of all medical laboratory scientists at the tertiary, regional and district hospitals to enable them perform their roles effectively.
• Government is encouraged to continue to resource the two testing facilities – the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine and the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research, to adequately perform testing on suspected COVID-19 patients.
• Government should immediately explore the possibilities of collaborating with researchers at the Universities to at least restructure and resource the Public Health Laboratories, Teaching Hospital Laboratories and selected laboratories at the country’s borders with state-of-the-art portable PCR devices and certified biosafety cabinets to enable them test COVID-19 suspected samples.
• The Association is urging all medical laboratory scientists to remain calm and demonstrate commitment in the performance of their duties, by adhering to Good Laboratory Practices and measures enumerated by the Ministry of Health/Ghana Health Service and their partners.
• The general public is also being advised to remain calm and following the recommendations being provided by the Ministry of Health/Ghana Health Service.
The professional body said it believes that decentralisation of the testing process is the surest way of identifying, isolating and managing COVID-19 cases.
The Association has assured the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, their partners and the public of their commitment to support the management and testing of COVID-19 suspected patients in the country.
Meanwhile, the government has placed a ban on all social gatherings including church and mosque services, festivals and funerals for the next four weeks as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
All educational institutions such as universities, second-cycle schools and basic schools have also been shut down effective Monday, March 16 2020.