Caring For Caregiver 2.0: Improving access to PPEs

By Asomaniwaa Owusu-Ansah, Erith Pharmaceuticals and Health Services Ltd, Accra, Ghana

Since 2016, Erith Health Services has distributed safety equipment to cancer centers; equipment that are intended to provide personal protection to health professionals who handle chemotherapy medicines to significantly minimize risks associated with exposure. Our core solution: to improve cancer treatment outcomes by improving the conditions under which health workers prepare, administer and dispose off chemotherapy. 

We started off by offering training programs that sought to: 

  1. Make available up-to-date information to hospital administrators on the need to provide personal protective equipment for oncology staff.
  2. Provide up-to-date information on the right protective equipment to employ in chemotherapy preparation for oncology healthcare teams. 

Through our Caring For Caregivers initiative,  we have offered training sessions to administrators and healthcare team on safe practices in the oncology setting. We set up a specialty distribution unit to market and distribute personal protective equipment for oncology practice in our country. 

However, in March 2020, we were overstretched. The pandemic that was changing the world had entered into Ghana. Our work on workplace safety had expanded without a notice. We needed to provide Personal protective equipment outside of the oncology space to health workers in all fields of practice. Borders were closed making it difficult to source protective equipment from international markets; there was a huge demand/supply imbalance. We had to act fast before we became overwhelmed.

We saw two major problems and came up with these solutions: 

  1. Ensure continued access to personal protective equipment: 
    Our solution: we started a manufacturing unit where we manufacture protective gowns, hair and shoe covers. These products were exclusively dependent on imports from the international markets. Foreign markets have themselves been overwhelmed.  To ensure continuous supply across Africa, we need to be able to manufacture and distribute safety equipment right here in Africa. That is what we seek to offer.
  2. Ease access to oncology and other protective and medical equipment:
    Our solution: we created an online marketplace for supplies that can be accessed anywhere in Africa and the world.

Creating something new is exciting. We are excited to share our work to improve access to personal protective equipment for oncology professionals across Africa. 

A manufacturing unit of protective gowns, hair and shoe covers