Environmental health personnel on Covid-19 are protesting their exclusion from the list of frontline staff to benefit from the government’s stimulus package.
Ashanti Region branch of the Ghana Environmental Health Officers Association wants government to rectify immediately what it describes as an anomaly.
On April 5, 2020, President Akufo-Addo as part of the government’s enhanced response to combat the spread of Covid-19 exempted health workers from paying taxes for three months.
“Government has also decided that all health workers will not pay taxes on their emoluments for the next three months, i.e. April, May and June. Furthermore, all frontline health workers will receive an additional allowance of fifty percent (50%) of their basic salary per month, i.e. for March, April, May and June,” he said in a televised address.
Following this announcement, some Ghanaians have questioned the criteria one would have to meet to qualify for this package.
But in the latest twist, some environmental health personnel have had cause to question the basis of the disbursement.
These officers are involved in surveillance, disinfection, isolation and burial of persons who die from the virus.
Leaders of the group tell JoyNews‘ Erastus Asare Donkor that, its members on the burial team are exposed to bigger risk, as they sometimes have to beg for personal protective equipment or re-use old ones.
“Any clothing I wear to work has to be burnt because of the possible contact with infected material. But these days I use just one shirt to work on two bodies each” said 45-years-old Adongo, an environmental health official.
According to him, he is unable to keep up with the financial burden associated with the increasing threat levels of his occupation amid the pandemic.
He is not alone in this.
His colleague in the field, Elvis, who supervises burial of Covid-19 victims in Kumasi said “nose masks, gloves all these things are utilities that need not be used multiple times. Immediately you go near the body, after picking them you have to change them. And this has been a difficult problem.”
The officers believe their inclusion in the list of beneficiaries will be a great motivation to execute their mandates diligently while keeping their families financially stable throughout the period.