In a joint statement issued on 16 March 2020, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are quoted as saying that: “The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health and societal emergency that requires effective and immediate action by governments, individuals and businesses.” Unfortunately, the spread of COVID-19 across Africa is getting to an alarming stage as the number of countries with confirmed cases of the disease is on ascendancy.
The people in Africa are in great danger considering the continent’s 1.2 billion people and its weak health systems. Currently, these health systems are already overburdened with ongoing disease outbreaks and other health issues. For these reasons, it is imperative for African governments to put in place vigorous mechanisms for prevention and early detection i.e. trace, mobilise, detect, test, treat, isolate.
The Africa Participatory Governance Forum-APGF welcomes the bold initiatives taken by some African countries to curb the menace of this terrible disease. In that vein, we highly commend the measures, worthy of emulation, taken by the government of Ghana to control the situation. We note with satisfaction the initiatives of some Sub-Regional Economic Groupings to deal with this matter. In this regard, we applaud the emergency meeting of the Minsters of Health in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held on 14th February “to strengthen coordination and cooperation among Member States, enhance surveillance measures at points of entry, increase public awareness efforts, and to develop a regional preparedness plan.” And on 10th March 2020, the Ministers of Health from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreed to harmonize and coordinate their efforts to respond to COVID-19 in the region.
However, the fight against covid-19 in Africa requires more collective efforts on the part of African governments. The whole continent must join hands in unison in order to take effective action to protect its peoples and contribute to the production and distribution of essential supplies.
The Africa Participatory Governance Forum-APGF calls on all Civil Society Organizations, individuals etc. with deep knowledge of health services and wide network throughout Africa to:
- Support national governments and institutes to organize preventive measures and mount responses, as needed;
- Provide training on infection, prevention and control measures to health workers;
- Disseminating educational materials to keep communities informed;
- Providing regular updates to healthcare workers;
- Advising and facilitating the transport of specimens to national testing laboratories.
- Advising on workplace preparedness.
APGF strongly endorses WHO’s call on national governments everywhere to adopt a whole-of- government and whole-of-society approach in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reducing the further spread of COVID-19 and mitigating its impact should be a top priority for Heads of State and Government. Political action should be coordinated with actors in the private sector and civil society to maximize reach of messaging and effectiveness.
We urge African Governments to commit, as suggested by WHO, to making available all necessary resources to combat COVID-19 with the minimum of delay and to ensure that cross border medical and other essential goods supply chains are able to function effectively and efficiently.
APGF encourages all African non-governmental organizations to support their country’s national response efforts.
Let’s unite to combat a threat - COVID 19 - to our survival!
Signed S. Drame The Executive Director