In February 2020, an idea was conceived to solve a problem that had been identified at the Kotoka International Airport.
The idea was how to facilitate the speedy body temperature check of passengers in real time. This is to do away with the temperature gun that normally delays departure and arrival formalities as a result of the long queues usually associated with such processes.
Another idea was to also introduce an electronic Health Declaration Form to replace the hard copy form used to obtain passengers’ travel history and detect signs and symptoms of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The architect of these two master pieces of innovation is Millennium Promise Alliance (MPA), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that uses cutting-edge digital tools to provide top-notch solutions to enhance the living standards of the people.
However, little did MPA know that their innovative ideas could soon become a reality than they had anticipated and play a major role in the re-opening of the country’s premier airport.
To make things happen, MPA first contacted the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), to share with them a study they had conducted into the two critical items on their radar.
Having bought into the idea, funding was then a major challenge for the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
Now, with the unexpected outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Ghana was left with no option than to close its borders and ports, to prevent the further spread of the virus.
With the coronavirus having a heavy toll on the economy, and data on affected persons now showing a downturn trend, there was pressure on the government to ease restrictions on air travel.
But before the Government could ease the restrictions on air travel, these two master pieces of innovation; the MPA Thermocheck and the electronic version of the Health Declaration Forms must be in place to limit the face-to-face contact of air travelers.
MPA, having made a commitment to help Ghana come out of the woods, contacted some of its donor partners to help fund the project. Just some few weeks into making their request, help finally came. GSK and Sergey Brin Foundation had both come onboard to assist in funding the two master pieces of innovation with Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, co-founder and board chair of Millennium Promise Alliance, also providing inspiration for the project to be rolled out.
With little time at their disposal, MPA quickly assembled all its technical experts as well as local materials for the task at hand. In less than two months, the two master pieces of innovative ideas have been turned into reality with test runs of the devices taking center stage.
Having gone through the numerous test runs, it was now time for certification from the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA). With a robust system coupled with the quality of materials used, the GSA had no difficulty certifying the devices after also subjecting them to vigorous test runs.
The biggest hurdle has now been crossed over. The task now at hand was for the Ghana Health Service, Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and the Ghana Airport Company (GAC) to give clearance for the MPA Thermocheck to be mounted at the Kotoka International Airport and also roll out the electronic health declaration forms at same venue and this came without hesitation.
With the MPA Thermocheck and the electronic Health Declaration Form now in place, the expectation was for government to announce the re-opening of the country’s airports. The much awaited announcement came almost a month later with air travelers lauding the robust system that was put together by the collaborative efforts of MPA, GHS, GIS, GSA, GAC as well the sponsors of the novelty devices; GSK, Sergey Brin Foundation and Prof. Jeffrey Sachs.
Functions of the MPA Thermocheck
Having been fixed at both departure and arrival halls, the MPA Thermocheck has now come to replace the thermometer guns. The MPA Thermocheck screens passengers before they leave the country. It also checks the temperature of air travelers on arrival and before departure and pitch them against their travel history so that it will provide information as to whether you must be admitted or not.
The MPA Thermocheck detects real-time temperature of persons walking towards it. It checks the temperature of 15 persons at a goal. The results is then transmitted electronically for the passenger to access or know his or her status. If ones temperature is red, it beeps and prompts the health experts at the airport about your condition. It also takes your picture automatically and keeps your data in the system for easy reference.
It is considered the fastest decision making support on fever detection.
The Health Declaration App
Mobile and Web Applications were developed to replace the paper-based Health Declaration Forms that was used prior to the closure of the country’s borders. The App has been installed on tablet devices mounted at vantage points at the airport to enable passengers to conveniently fill up the Form, whilst the in-built decision support algorithms and analytics help the health experts stationed at the port to speed up decision-making and follow-up.
Travelers can access the Health Declaration App on their mobile phones, tablets, or computers through the Ghana Health Service website.
The Executive Director of MPA, Chief Nathaniel Ebo Nsarko, commenting on this novelty said “COVID-19 has ushered in a lot of homegrown ideas and domesticated technological advancements of which I’m grateful to God to have been useful in such a competitive era together with my MPA team. The project has added a boost to Ghana’s preparedness to open its airports for international flights. I am very proud to leverage on our long-standing partnership with the Ghana Health Service to bring this project to life”.
He added that “due to COVID-19, technology is being deployed at such a dizzying pace in recent months that it has transformed our world in ways that we least imagined. Coming up with this innovative idea started with out to be difficult, if not impossible, and almost certainly up for fierce debate as we have always believed in foreigners than ourselves. Nevertheless, we gave it a shot and here we are, purely Ghanaian but of international standard; proudly Ghanaian”.
MPA is currently in talks with the Ghana Immigration Services (GIS) to see how best same devices could be deplored at the various entry points of the country.
MPA mobilizes science and technology towards the Sustainable Development Goals across Africa and beyond. It has over the years demonstrated its credibility by putting funds to good use. It developed a data base for COVID-19 contact-tracing in the Ashanti Region. It was done by providing tablets with a custom-built Application to the contact-tracers for the task at hand. This enabled the contact-tracers, whilst on the field, to send reports to a centralized location for a team of health experts to analyze the situation and advice accordingly.
It also assisted the Ridge Hospital to set up its Telemedicine center. It’s innovative drive led to the introduction of Rural Lab Services, TeleAgric and Telemedicine Services which have so far helped to put Ghana on a high pedestal for recognition as a country on track to achieving the SDGs.
Millennium Promise Alliance has presence in over 20 countries, and is also the architect of the Millennium Villages Project which was implemented in 10 African countries.