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06.04.2020 Feature Article

Role Of Public-Private Partnerships In Combating Covid-19

Role Of Public-Private Partnerships In Combating Covid-19
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The emergence of the novel Corona virus has forced governments around the world to implement stringent measures including restricted movements of people, total lockdowns, mandatory quarantine and many more. Alongside these interventions, social welfare interventions to support both the ordinary citizens as well as the medical officers who are at the frontline of controlling this pandemic.

Governments around the world have set up contingencies for lockdown and restricted movements, providing the population, particularly the vulnerable people with food, rent control, stagnation of loan repayments, etc. All of these interventions are financed and implemented primarily by the central government.

In Ghana, on the 5th of April, 2020 at about 9:15 pm, the President, His Excellency Nana Akuffo-Addo announced some social interventions to be rolled out in the subsequent weeks. Among these interventions include the establishment of a COVID-19 National Trust Fund, the corona virus Alleviation Programme, provision of food to some 400,000 affected areas, absorption of water bills for the next three months, as well as the provision of a soft loan scheme to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Additionally, the government of Ghana plans on procuring personal protective equipment (PPEs) for health care personnel; setting up an insurance package for health personnel and allied health professionals; providing free transportation for health personnel; and, providing tax exemptions on their emoluments for a period of three months. The government also asserts that it was going to provide an additional allowance of 50% of the frontline health personnel’s salary. All of these socio-economic interventions are fashioned with the main purpose of mitigating the pandemic.

In as much as these interventions are of utmost importance to cushion the populace against the dire consequences of this pandemic, it puts a significant strain on the budget and finances of the central government. And if care is not taken, countries across the globe will experience an unprecedented economic recession. Hence, it opens the need for public-private partnerships to ensure these interventions do not cripple the economies of nations and states.

Public-private partnerships may be described as some sort of arrangement or marriage between the public sector and private enterprises. Such arrangements help to ensure that there is a win-win outcome. The government may have and wield power and authority but support from private enterprises helps to ensure the sustainability of these interventions. Again, PPPs are essential to ensuring transparency in the quest to provide social and health welfare to the population.

In the wake of the COVID-19, private enterprises around the globe have supported the government in many ways, demonstrating the power of PPPs. For instance, in Australia, the government seeks to partner with the private entities to provide hospital beds and increase the staff strength. These PPPs are further expected to double the capacity of the health system to detect and test more cases.

Resources by the government combined with expertise from academia and the private sector can be very instrumental in winning the fight against this pandemic. Hence, the public and private sectors must work collaboratively as stipulated in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17 in order to ensure that the best approaches to combating the novel corona virus is adopted.

This public-private partnership may manifest in many ways including the adoption of a collaborate research, sharing data on the COVID-19 as well as contributing expertise and financial resources to advance this course. PPPs are needed now more than any other time as it has the potential of ensuring higher efficiency and sustainability of interventions as well as ensure transparency at every step along the way. If we truly envision to win the fight against this pandemic, then we must endeavor to ensure that there is a harmonious public-private partnership that is premised on collaboration and mutual interdependence.

In summary, the emergence of the novel Corona virus has clearly demonstrated the insatiable and expedient need for public-private partnerships to advance efforts to mitigate the pandemic. Without this collaborative effort from both the public sector and private entities, all efforts to combat the pandemic will progress at a rather lethargic and sluggish pace. However, when we recognize the need for public-private partnerships in fighting the COVID-19, we will be able to come out with innovations and technologies, as well as a host of concomitant interventions including the development of vaccines, rapid testing kits and systems, virus detecting applications, etc.

Joshua Okyere
Joshua Okyere, © 2020

The author has 29 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: JoshuaOkyere

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