Youth AID Initiative Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in the Nsawam-Adoagyiri municipality has held a meeting to disseminate the findings of a monitoring exercise it undertook to ascertain adherence to the COVID-19 safety and prevention protocols in churches and mosques.The move forms part of the organization’s complementary role towards the government and municipality’s response to COVID-19.
Participants for the meeting were drawn from all sections of the community including Christian and Muslimrepresentatives, Traditional Leaders, Civil Society Organizations (CSO), Health Workers and Community-Based Organizations CBOs).
During a presentation on the findings at the meeting, the Executive Director of the NGO, Bright Owusu outlined the key findings on each of the protocols and how each identified gaps could lead to exacerbating the spread of the virus in the municipality.
Summary of key findings include:
1. Social distancing not observed at registration centres in some churches
2. No tissue paper available in some churches compelling some worshippers to use their handkerchiefs to clean their hands after washing
3. No registration of congregants done in some churches. Other churches too had registration books but no assigned officer(s) to guide congregants in registering.
4. Face shields used instead of face masks by congregants in some churches
5. Proper disposal of used paper tissues not done in some churches
6. Hand washing not properly done by children in some churches as there were no assigned officers in designatedhand washing areas
7. Almost all smaller/“one man churches” had no thermometer guns to check the temperatures of worshipers
Other observations worthy of emulation by other churches and mosques include:
1. Some churches assigned specific chairs with numbers to specific individuals for easy contact tracing
2. Some churches gave out free face masks to their members and encourage them to wear anytime they attended churchservice
3. Some mosques closed their doors as soon as the expectednumber of worshippers was reached.
In addressing the gaps, participants agreed on the following recommendations:
1. A robust database on all churches and mosques in the municipality needs to be created as soon as possible
2. Enforcement agencies should prosecute churches/mosqueswho flout on the protocols to serve as a deterrent to others.
3. The Municipal Assembly, National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) and the Information Services Department should intensify education on the safety and prevention protocols in the municipality.
4. The Municipal Assembly must involve NGOs and other Community Based Organisations in the monitoring of thesafety and prevention protocols in the municipality.
5. The municipality’s COVID-19 task force needs to intensify their monitoring to include hard to reach churches