Debates of 29 Jan 2020

PRAYERS 11:40 a.m.


Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon Members, correction of Votes and Proceedings of 28th January, 2020.
Page 1, 2, 3…8.
Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa 11:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker, please on page 8, after your Statement which is well captured under item numbered 5, there were Statements from the Hon Majority and Minority Leaders which have been totally ignored.
So, if that could be inserted, that there were welcome Statements from both the Hon Majority and Minority Leaders.
Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
It is well noted.
Page 9, 10, … 14.
Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 28 th January, 2020 as presented and corrected is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
Hon Members, any corrections to the Official Report of 22nd November, 2019?
Mr Ablakwa 11:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker, please at the last paragraph of column 3346; it was a reduction from 8.4 per cent to negative 8.5 per cent. The negative has been omitted. So, we have here 8.4 to 8.5 per cent which is rather an increase. It should be negative 8.5 per cent.
So, if that could be inserted accordingly. That is what the Hon Agbodza was referring to.
Mr Speaker, at the first paragraph of column 3399 -- and this being a House of records, we have here “Ashante Kotoko”. There is no such entity; it should be Asante Kotoko Sporting Club which is how they were registered. So, though I am a “Phobian” -- on a more serious note, it should be “Asante Kotoko” and not “Ashante Kotoko”.
Mr Speaker, thank you.
Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Thank you very much.
The person who put it that way must have been a supporter of the Accra Hearts of Oak Football Club.
Some Hon Members 11:40 a.m.
Yes. [Laughter] --
Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Any other corrections?
Mr Ablakwa 11:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker, sorry, I just noticed that at the first paragraph at column 3406, China has been wrongly captured; it has been spelt C-h-i-n instead of C-h-i-n-a.
Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Thank you very much.
The Official Report of 22nd November, 2019 as corrected, is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon Members, at the commencement of Public Business. Presentation of Papers; item listed 4(a) by the Hon Minister for Finance.
Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Deputy Majority Leader (Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo): Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance is currently in a meeting with the Hon Majority Leader. I would ask leave
of your good self and the indulgence of the Hon Deputy Minority Leader to allow the Hon Minister for Education to lay the Paper on his behalf.
PAPERS 11:40 a.m.

Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Item numbered 4 (b) by the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee.
Ms Safo 11:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker, concerning item numbered 4 (b) (i), the information I have from the Hon Chairman of the Committee is that it is not ready.
Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Please, is 4(b) (ii) ready?
Ms Safo 11:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, that is not ready as well.
Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
So, do we move to item numbered 5?
Ms Safo 11:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, items
numbered 5, 6, 7 and 8 are not ready and so if we could take a Statement.
Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
So, I get the indication that none of the items are ready.
Ms Safo 11:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, rightly so.
Hon Members, there is a Statement on Coronavirus Infection of Human in China and its Potential Implications for Ghana to be made by the Hon Member for Nabdam.
Hon Members, in the process, the Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair.
STATEMENTS 11:50 a.m.

Dr Mark Kurt Nawaane (NDC -- Nabdam) 11:50 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for permitting me to make this very important Statement on Coronavirus infection of humans in China and its potential implications for Ghana.
Mr Speaker, Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause respiratory illness such as the common cold and can affect the nose, throat and rarely,
it can descend down and cause bronchitis and pneumonia. In some instances, diarrhoea stools have been recorded.
Mr Speaker, Coronaviruses are mostly Zoonotic that affect other animals and not man.
However, in 2002, in Southern China, an outbreak of Coronavirus infection of humans described as Severe Acute Respiratory syndrome (SARS) claimed approximately the life of one out of every 10 patients infected. It is estimated that 774 people lost their lives out of the over 8,000 cases recorded worldwide.
Also in 2012, in Saudi Arabia, there was an outbreak of a Coronavirus infection documented as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which claimed the lives of 298 people.
Mr Speaker, the current outbreak of Coronavirus infection has been named as 2019-nCOV. It is thought to have infected man from snakes in the Wuhan Province of China.
Mr Speaker, since the first case was recorded on the 31st December, 2019, over 4,500 cases have now been registered with 106 deaths. It has also spread to 22 other provinces in China and currently, cases have been registered in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United States of America (USA), France and Australia.
Currently in Africa, we have suspected cases in la Cote d'ivoire and Ethiopia. The mode of transmission are the following:
(1) Breathing of the respiratory droplets from an infected person's sneezing or coughing.
(2) Saliva or Kissing.
(3) Contact with an infected object such as blanket, mattress, clothing which are later introduced through the nose, eyes or mouth.
(4) Contaminated faecal matter can also be the source of infection.
The diagnosis can be confirmed at any standard laboratory and currently, there is no specific medications or vaccines for it. However, patients are treated symptomatically and supportively. They are expected to take in sufficient fluid and if the need be, they are hospitalised for intensive medical care.
Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has issued a statement calling on all Ghanaians to prevent the 2019- nCOV from entering the country and putting all regional and district health care systems on alert. There is also surveillance at all entry points into the country. At the airports, passengers coming from China would undergo special screening processes and Ghanaian traders travelling to China
have been asked to postpone their trips if possible. While these measures are in the right direction, they are inadequate and insufficient.
Mr Speaker, the measures being taken by China and their challenges require urgently that the Government of Ghana evaluate our emergency preparedness to contain this infection should it hit our shore. China is building a 1,000 bed capacity make- shift hospital to cater for patients while we have a lot of uncompleted hospital projects on which work is not progressing as expected.
Mr Speaker, our socio-economic status, cultural norms and religious practices such as our suburban crowded settlements, the way we perform our funerals and worship in our churches, mosques and other religious gatherings suggest that the Ministry of Health intensifies its educational process. Resources from the Contingency Fund should be released to local radio stations, television stations, newspapers and other mass communication media to carry out intensive public education.
Mr Speaker, the earlier we start with the education, the better it is for all of us. Even in China, some of the patients do not understand basic concepts such as isolation, quarantine
Mr First Deputy Speaker noon
Yes, Dr Okoe Boye?
Dr Bernard O. Boye (NPP -- Ledzokuku) noon
Mr Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to contribute to the Statement made by my Colleague, the Hon Member.
First of all, the condition we are talking about is a viral disease just like most of the respiratory conditions that we experience including common cold. I do not believe there is a cause for alarm. We only have to prepare ourselves adequately. The symptoms are not different from common cold where one coughs, gets some headaches and pains in joints. The only exception here is that the symptoms must be severe.
Mr Speaker, the essence of speaking to these conditions is to alert health personnel to have a threshold or suspicion index to think of corona as soon as possible. Once they suspect and investigate, we have supporting treatment.
I know our Standing Orders advise us not to generate debate through Statements, but when my Hon colleague mentioned that China is building a thousandbed capacity hospital and we have a lot of uncompleted ones, I felt it was a little disjointed. However, let me quickly offer some education. What China is building is not a standing hospital like
Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital or the Greater Accra Regional Hospiatal (Ridge Hospital). It is a holding facility which is meant to deal with isolated cases that have been picked from other health stations. For the information of the House, Ghana has a similar facility at the Tema General Hospital.
China has a population of over one billion. If we compute the ratio, one bed in that facility would serve one million people. The one at Tema is about 30- bed capacity. It is also one to one million. So we have to consider the population as well.
However, Mr Speaker, I am happy that my Hon colleague brought in some recommendations on forming a multi-sectoral team. That is commendable. Albeit belated, just two days ago, a press release came from the Ministry of Health. I would just read an excerpt to give assurance to the House that Government, through the Ministry, has prepared adequately for the corona condition. With your kind permission, it says:
“The Ministry of Health has seen the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus infection and constituted a multi-sectoral team. The National Technical Coordinating Committee meeting is constituted with experts from the Ministry of
Health, the Ghana Health Service, the World Health Organisation, Veterinary Service Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention among others.”
So we have such a thing already put in place just two days ago. When it comes to surveillance, mechanisms have been in place to ensure that we monitor cases that appear to be similar to that of corona.
Mr Speaker, it is also important to mention that the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research has indicated that they have the capacity to isolate and determine whether any virus picked anywhere is corona in nature.
I am happy to mention that the advice on prevention like cleaning one's hands using the methylated spirit or alcohol rub and keeping oneself some metres away from someone who coughs is similar to what we give to citizens when it comes to other conditions.
Mr Speaker, prevention is the duty of all of us and not a distant team. It is important that we take measures to wash our hands and anytime we touch any surface, we clean before we eat or touch our eyes and other orifices.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.

Hon Member?
Dr Sebastian N. Sandaare (NDC -- Deffiama/Bussie/Issa) 12:10 p.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on coronavirus infection in China and its potential implications, on Ghana. I commend the Hon Member who made the Statement for the good work done.
As he rightly stated, the coronavirus infection in China has international implications, and therefore have potential implications for Ghana. In case we get a case in Ghana, are we ready to manage that case and prevent widespread infections?
Mr Speaker, we are currently dealing with the strain of coronaviruses that we clearly do not understand because scientists are still gathering data, and it is reported that China has given the go-ahead for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to move into the country with experts and resources to see to it that it is contained for us to fully understand the strain.
Mr Speaker, already, we are not even sure of the data we are getting. Everyday, we get different figures on
the mobility and mortalities which makes it very difficult to understand. Once we do not understand it very well, control measures become difficult to put in place.
However, if we talk about the potential implications in Ghana and other countries, definitely, it has implications on our health systems; which is what we are looking at. As a health system, are we really prepared for this disease? I would want to commend the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service for activating surveillance measures in the country.
They have written alert statements. Ghana has the technical capacity; men and women who are experts in our health teams so that when it comes to the management of epidemics, we have the capacity. But as a country, do we have the needed logistical or financial support?
I urge that the Government, aside just issuing statements, should allocate more resources to the health authorities. This is because, it is one thing issuing statements, but if they do not have the logistics to work with, they could only read the statements
and cannot do much. Therefore let us provide the financial resources and logistics to make our health systems ready.
Mr Speaker, the disease also has socio-economic implications because as of now, some of our traders who use to go to China for goods would not be able to go there again until the disease is fully controlled.

It means that it is going to affect the cost of living for us as a country because once they cannot bring in goods, it is going to affect us. I was just reading that because of this infection, the price of oil is dropping by about 10 per cent, which means it is going to affect the economies of countries, especially that of Ghana.

Mr Speaker, also, when there is an epidemic, women and children are more affected and that is another potential implication we can have if we do not take strong measures to prevent the disease from getting into Ghana.

To conclude and support the Hon Member who made the Statement, I would like to state that we really need more of stakeholder engagements because when such epidemics break out, the focus is on the Ministry of

Health, but there are others like the agricultural sector that we have to engage in to holistically discuss and manage the epidemic.

Mr Speaker, lastly, I commend Bill Gates because we are also hearing that he is committing about US$5 million to help Africa fight the coronavirus in case it comes, not only when it comes, but to take measures to prevent it. I commend his Foundation for that and urge other African bodies to also commit to this cause.

This is because if he is committing to help us, we should also show some commitments in terms of financial resources to battle the disease and enhance public education so that we teach our public on the signs and symptoms of the disease so that together, we can prevent the disease from coming into our country.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr Ras Mubarak (NDC -- Kumbungu) 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I want to thank you and commend the Hon Member who made the Statement for such a timeous Statement.
Mr Speaker, I arrived in the country on Sundays this week and I was quite impressed by the systems
Minority Leader (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you for indulging me. I did not have the opportunity to listen to the Statement as it was being read, but a matter of public health importance such as the coronavirus is being discussed and I can only recall my appeal that the Hon
Minister for Health and all other institutions responsible must take urgent and critical steps to protect our citizens within and without the country from the possible attack of this virus.
The World Health Organisation in the news this morning reported 132 deaths and some 6,000 cases. It is also important that a cure is worked on scientifically in order to deal with it.
Mr Speaker, there has been some trend of flight cancellation and other issues. The United States of America has issued a statement that all travels that are non-essential to that particular area be discouraged. I am sure we can also advise our citizens who want to embark on non-essential travels to that area to be cautious and be guided by the epidemic in order that we do not become victims.
Mr Speaker, it is also reported that La Cote D'Ivoire tested one of those cases from a student who was returning home. This means that it is close to our corridor and we need to be guided. I can only renew my call that the Hon Minister for Health be hauled before this House to apprise us of the steps that he is taking to contain it with other allied health institutions.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Hon Members, that brings us to the end of Statement time.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Majority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu) 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the Motion listed as item numbered 7 and the subsequent ones cannot be taken because they are not ready yet.
Mr Speaker, for Motion numbered 6, we would need to have further consultations. We have initiated the consultations on that Motion which involves myself, the Ministers for Finance, Trade and Industry and Transport. I guess by Friday, we may be in the position to take the Motion listed as item numbered 6 because Cabinet would have to have a second look at it tomorrow.
Mr Speaker, for Motion listed as item numbered 5, the Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board is outside the jurisdiction, and because it is an important Bill, he needs to be here. I have been told he is expected back this evening, so possibly by Friday, we could also take that.
Mr Iddrisu 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 12:10 p.m.