WHY THE GFA’S GHANAMAN SOCCER CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR COVID-19 ISOLATION CENTRE
Yesterday, news broke out that the Ghana Football Association has decided to offer to government the Ghanaman Soccer Center of Excellence at Prampram as a COVID-19 isolation centre.
Upon hearing the news, my instant reaction was to commend the GFA, having criticised them in the past few days for virtually doing nothing in the fight against COVID-19.
However, after my initial reaction, I quickly averred my mind to the fact that the GFA itself has admitted recently that the Ghanaman Soccer Centre at Prampram was in a deplorable state.
The question on the minds of many, including yours truly was that, why would the GFA offer a facility it has publicly stated is in deplorable state to the government for an isolation centre for COVID-19?
As The Loop is all about verification and authentication, I set out to verify the true state of Prampram and its suitability for an isolation centre as far as WHO/Ghana Health Services guidelines/standards are concerned.
THE CURRENT STATE OF THE GHANAMAN SOCCER CENTRE
On November 29, 2019, (4 months ago), the President of the GFA and some executive council members went for a tour of the Ghanaman Centre at Prampram. At the end of the tour, the GFA’s official website reported the President’s disappointment of the terrible state of facilities.
The entire place had not been used during the period of normalisation so a lot of facilities such as dormitories, doors, beds, windows, pipes, sinks, roofing etc were understandably in terrible shape, making the facility completely unfit for purpose.
The Loop’s investigations have revealed that the Centre has 3 main blocks (A, B and C) which have dormitories. There is also a conference room, as well as classrooms.
The Loop’s investigations have also revealed that out of the 3 blocks, A, B and C, block C (which is a full dormitory) is virtually in ruins with major works required to fix a lot of things. Two other blocks (A and B,) is somehow okay (but not too okay) after the new GFA leadership fixed doors and mosquito nets…..to enable the Black Maidens and Princesses camp there.
The Loop also found out the conference room is in good shape, but the classrooms are not in really good condition, with leakages as big issues.
Apart from these challenges, The Loop discovered issues of scarcity of water, faulty tabs and sinks, as well as serious concerns over the presence of snakes, scorpions and all kinds of rodents at the centre…..something even national team players and officials constantly complain about.
To be fair to the GFA, the Loop was told by a source at the facility (who pleaded anonymity) the FA fumigated the place recently but the problem persists.
CAN THE FACILITY ACCOMODATE 1000 PEOPLE AS CLAIMED BY THE GFA?
The GFA announced on its website yesterday that the Ghanaman Centre can accommodate up to 1000 people.
The Loop verified this claim, and the 1000 figure the GFA put out appears inaccurate and misleading. By the Loop’s investigation, all the three blocks with dormitories (if they were in good shape), cannot accommodate up to 150 people. Surely, the conference room and the classrooms combined can’t even accomodate more than 200 beds for a COVID-19 isolation
In fact, the Conference room, without beds, struggles to accommodate 120 people for GFA Congress. Clearly the 1000 figure mentioned by the GFA is totally misleading.
Recently, the facility could not even accommodate up to 300 referees for a 4 day residential seminar. The GFA had to resort to a Pentecost facility at Kasoa.
The Loop has also found that recently, the facility could not host 3 national teams of not more than 30 people for each teams….one team had to be sent to Cape Coast for camping.
In the context of an isolation centre, numbers may be irrelevant. What is more important may the suitability of a facility.
W.H.O. STANDARDS FOR ISOLATION CENTRES.
To put this issue into proper context, The Loop has verified what a COVID-19 isolation centre should be like in line with World Health Organisation guidelines.
According to a circular on the management of COVID-19 issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on March 19 2020, to governments and health decision makers worldwide, COVID-19 isolation centres should be informed by certain considerations. One of such important consideration is the proximity of isolation centres to medical facilities (with isolation centres). The reason is to be able to immediately rush a patient to the facility should there be an emergency. By this, WHO guidelines clearly states that COVID-19 isolation centres should be cited close to a medical facility which also has its own internal COVID-19 isolation centres.
Critical questions that must be asked are; is there a medical facility near the Ghanaman Soccer Center to be able to meet this important WHO requirement in the management of COVID-19?
The Loop understands that the closest “proper” medical facility to the Ghanaman Soccer Center is the Tema General Hospital, which, to all intents and purposes, is too far from the Ghanaman centre.
The Loop also found out that for a training facility like Prampram, even the centre’s small clinic is in a very bad state and not functioning.
The WHO, in its circular, recommended that places such as stadiums and hotels should be used as isolation centres. The wisdom in this recommendation is that many good stadia have medical facilities or are normally not far from hospitals. So are hotels.
If Government/Ghana Health Service and other stakeholders were to consider the WHOs guidelines for isolation centres, then it will be difficult for the Ghanaman Soccer Centre to be passed fit for this purpose.
UNDERSTANDING WHO’s CATEGORIZATION OF ISOLATION CENTRES.
The WHO has categorized COVID-19 isolation centres into three: self isolation at home by patients with mild cases (without symptoms or mild symptoms), isolation at a non medical facility of (patients with mild cases with or without symptoms) and the third being isolation at hospitals of (patients with severe cases).
According to the WHO, the reason for this categorization of isolation centres is to ensure that medical facilities are not overwhelmed by cases.
Clearly, If the Ghanaman Centre had all the perfect conditions and it was to be accepted, it surely would be for non medical facility isolation centre for patients who are showing no symptoms or mild symptoms.
I don’t think it will be right to send patients who are showing mild or no symptoms to non medical isolation centres which are not in good conditions. Yes, they don’t need a 5 Star Hotel, but you cannot also compound their woes by sending them to facilities that are crying for attention and renovation.
THE LOOP’S VERDICT
After The Loop’s painstaking investigations, I think it will cost the government more to turn Prampram into an isolation centre.
Truth is the government may end up spending so much to get the Ghanaman Soccer Center fit for this purpose so they are better off considering other facilities which are closer to medical facilities (with isolation centres within it) in accordance with the WHO’s advice.
This is, however only The Loop’s verdict after my verification and authentication and I must state that I only conducted my journalistic work of verifying and reporting. It is not my duty to approve.
Government or the experts can also go there and have a look at it. They may also have a different view……but what is obvious cannot be hidden.
Before I conclude, let me ask two important questions:
1. Under the current state of the Ghanaman Soccer Centre, are junior national team handlers happy to even camp there despite the fixing of some doors and mosquito nets?
2. Under the current state of the Ghanaman Soccer Centre can the GFA Executive Council stay there for even a two-day seminar?
If yes they can, then we are all good to go!
If no they can’t and they won’t, then this offer looks like a clandestine move by the GFA to get the government to fix Prampram, use it as an isolation centre and later hand over a refurbished centre.
It is like offering a leaking bucket to a neighbour to fetch water. You may not only get back a fixed bucket, the bucket may return with water.