The Air Masks and Textiles Company Limited (ATCL) has distributed 120 face masks to hawkers around Madina, National Theatre and the Dzorwulu traffic lights in Accra.
The distribution is to enable the hawkers to protect themselves against pollutants from vehicles and respiratory tract infections.
Mr Muntaka Chasant, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Monday, said, aside the physical injury associated with street hawking, hawkers were exposed to particulate pollutants from vehicles, including carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and now the fear of an outbreak of the coronavirus.
He said as the world battled the new coronavirus, a respiratory virus that had killed more than 900 people, with the government taking steps to prevent its outbreak in Ghana, it was imperative for individuals and organisations to join in the campaign.
“We have totally run out of stock of face masks in Ghana and in any of our world-wide network of distributors. This is an emergency stock, and we decided not to sell them.
“I get satisfaction giving out the last few masks we have in stock for free to some of the most vulnerable groups in society,”
“Those who need respiratory protection the most also sometimes tell me they are too shy to put on facemasks in public but I will keep on pushing until they become accustomed to wearing it,” he said.
Mr Chasant advised Ghanaians to frequently wash their hands with soap under running water, cover their mouth and nose with tissue when sneezing, and avoid close contact with others when experiencing cough or fever.
He urged the public to be sure of the hygienic nature of their meat and eggs before buying and that they must be thoroughly cooked before eating.
Mr Chasant, also an air pollution campaigner, expressed worry that some members of the public in and around Accra, did not recognise the air they breathe may be polluted.
“While some readily recognise that the air they breathe may be polluted, others frequently argue that they had breathed the same air throughout their lives, and nothing had happened to them.
“Some consider air pollution awareness a sort of conspiracy. I have even been threatened with physical violence for suggesting that livestock traders find an alternative means to singe the animals, instead of using scrap tires, due to health and pollution risks,” he said
Mr Chasant said what mattered most was how to ensure the efforts being made brought change in the attitudes of members of the communities, adding that, the campaign would be extended to other parts of the country to derive a broader impact.
“Our campaign is to create awareness and increase knowledge of the health effects and sources of air pollution, how to minimise exposure, and how the people can become active participants in the fight against air pollution,” Mr Chasant explained. GNA