Christabel, 12, can often be seen outside her home, playing alone. Lately, just like other children in her community, she plays by herself while her mother goes to the local market to work and buy food.
Things used to be different before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak, other families have fled from the Upper West Region where she lives, an area already struggling with an outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis. Other community members are living in fear as the number of cases of both diseases rise.
Christabel’s mother, Catherine, is also worried about the health of herself and her family but must go to the market every day to make money and buy food.
“I have heard there is no cure for the coronavirus but with early detection, proper care and a lot of luck, the affected people can survive,” she says.
“I get scared every day when I go out because I cannot see the disease to avoid it. The greatest fear is to contract the virus, not know and infect my daughter. I am also scared of dying and leaving my daughter alone.”
Although there aren’t any restrictions on movement in their community, it is very quiet. As a result, Christabel does not feel safe when her mother goes out to the market.
“I feel very scared when my mother leaves me to go to the market because there is no one in the house with me,” she says. “I want to follow her, but she will not allow me, so I also want to go to my grandmother in the next village.”
Christine has warned Christabel to stay indoors to prevent her contracting COVID-19 by playing with other children.
Christabel says, “I do not see my friends. If I want to talk, I stand by a wall and shout. When my friends in the other house hear me, they come to the other side of the wall and we talk.”
Ghana has been reporting cases of COVID-19 since March. The impact of the pandemic goes far beyond those who have been infected. Many people have been left without access to key health services, including sexual and reproductive health care. In addition, many children are missing out on an education while others are facing an increased risk of abuse.
In response, Plan International Ghana is working with the country’s health service to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure sexual and reproductive health services remain available.
The organisation has also provided personal protective equipment, hand sanitiser, soap, buckets and water purification tablets to the regional emergency response team and the Ghana health service in the Upper West Region.
In Christabel’s community, Plan International Ghana has provided 10 hand washing facilities, water purification tablets, 50 bottles of sanitiser and 100 bottles of soap which will benefit 1,400 people.
Key information about COVID-19 and how it can be stopped from spreading has also been shared with around 4,000 people in the community and surrounding area.