By Faustine Ngila…..
Weeks after Twitter opened its first Africa offices in the country, Ghana is on high gear in the use of technology, this time joining Kenya and Ethiopia in the use of the Covid-19 digital passport developed by the African Union (AU) through its health agency, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
Ghana’s Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman – Manu says his ministry through the Ghana Health Service (GHS), and with support from the PanaBIOS Consortium, is moving fast to implement the digitisation of Covid-19 test results for ease of verification and port health clearance prior to air travel as well as after disembarkation.
“Ghana has become the first country in the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) to deploy a system for digital verification of Covid-19 test results based on the AU Trusted Travel and the ECOWAS-WAHO Biodata Mutual Assurance and Recognition (BIOMARS) standard,” he said.
Fake Test Results
The technology platform is powered jointly by the main Ghanaian Health Agency (GHS) and the PanaBIOS Consortium, and will cover all the authorised Covid-19 testing in the country.
The solution is expected to curb rising cases of fake test results which have been hampering the fight against the spread of the virus through importation, whilst supporting the much anticipated AU Vaccine Certificate, when it goes live.
“All travellers, airlines, diplomatic missions, Port Health, Covid-19 testing labs and all other stakeholders in Ghana are informed that only test results and certificates bearing Trusted Travel or BIOMARS codes will be considered valid,” added Mr Agyeman.
The platform, already in use by Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Asky Airlines has been incorporated into the airlines’ own apps and systems, so air travelers can easily understand what they need before they fly.
The move has made it easier for passengers to share the test and vaccination certificates with authorities and airlines to facilitate travel through the Trusted Testing Code (TT Code) which shows that the test was done in an approved Trusted Lab.
The United Nations Development programme (UNDP) has sponsored a complementary Global Haven system that ensures that travellers from outside Africa can also use lab records from their countries of origin in the Trusted Travel digital verification process.
Dr John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC, said the partnership with all African airlines will be critical in the present context.
“The scale of the challenge presented by Covid-19 demands an unprecedented level of both innovation and cooperation, which is why decisions by Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia to adopt the Trusted Travel platform marks a milestone in the continent’s ongoing fight against this pandemic’s potential to suppress Africa’s development ambitions,” he noted.
During the durable lockdowns and curfew orders, the digital ID cards were very resourceful for the security and COVID-19 teams in curbing the spread of the virus, restricting, controlling and documenting the movement of people in and out of the country.
The New Direction’s implementation of the digital ID system has been of a significant contribution and method in controlling and caging the spread of the killer-pandemic.
Irrespective of the rampant corruption, mismanagement of public funds, tremendous sordidness and health hazards at all government hospitals and within the Freetown Municipality, the country has so far recorded the lowest COVID-19 victims and POSITIVE cases.