Ghana asked to develop Emergency Operating Plans

Accra, May 19, GNA – Ghana has been urged to take steps to ensure that its health facilities develop Emergency Operating Plans (EOPs), to help mitigate the impact of emergencies, especially Mass Casualty Incidents (MCIs).

Dr Roxanne Richter, a Fulbright-Fogarty (NIH) Postdoctoral global health fellow, who is currently undertaking research in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, said in light of how critical EOPs were to health institutions in MCIs, she was shocked’ that EOPs were a new concept in Ghana.

Speaking at a lecture and workshop on ‘Mass Casualty GIS Mapping and Moulage Simulation’ held at the United States Embassy in Accra, Dr Richter noted the absence of such plans indicated a failure to plan for emergency situations.

‘When you’re in the midst of a disaster or mass casualty or after you hit surge capacity; that is not the time to start making proactive planning efforts, it was before the incident that you should have planned,’ she stated.

EOPs are documents that list all resources in terms of equipment, staffing, capabilities and capacities of the health institution.

It also includes Memoranda of Understanding with other facilities for assistance during emergencies or MCIs.

Dr Richter said pre-planning helped to mitigate or decrease the impact of the disaster or mass casualty incident and surge capacity has on the facility and staff.

She stated that her team had to do a lot of teaching and explanations of the concept.

‘It was a very arduous teaching process to be given access to begin to work on these Emergency Operations Plans,’ she said.

As of the study, which involved eight hospitals in Kumasi, the team also conducted a moulage simulation to assess preparedness of health practitioners in emergencies, see how stakeholders could work together and to foster relationships between emergency nurses, physicians, national ambulance and other stakeholders toward giving patients the best service.

The exercise involved the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and KNUST Hospital.

The exercise was a high-fidelity simulation where patients demonstrates and physically look like the trauma they have, helping the practitioners to do a better job of managing and transporting the patients.

‘It also tests the healthcare system and forces them to find ways of working together during disasters,’ she stated, and commended KATH, where the simulation was held, for taking the lead in training their physicians and nurses to specialise in emergency care, but noted however that the hospital was poorly-resourced to handle MCIs.

Dr Richter said there was also very little emergency management training available in Ghana and urged universities and medical schools to improve on it.

Dr George Oduro, Head of Emergency Medicine at KATH, said the lack of a well-designed system of trauma acuity needed to be addressed, thus the establishment of a formal emergency medicine postgraduate training programme by the Hospital.

He said physicians and nurses would commit to advocating the filling of the gaps identified in the study, including the need for EOPs and trauma acuity assessments of hospitals.

Target groups for advocacy will include commercial drivers, law enforcement agencies, ambulance service and other stakeholders to educate them.

GNA

By Belinda Ayamgha, GNA