By Hassan Zaggi
The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Mamora, has revealed that each member of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), has been mandated to develop its strategic approach in terms of costed plan for to combat the Covid-19 epidemic.
This, according to him, is part of the communique at the end of the emergency meeting of the Ministers of Health of the ECOWAS on regional preparedness and response to the ongoing Covid-19 (Coronavirus) epidemic in China, which was held in Bamako, Republic of Mali, few days ago.
He disclosed this at a media briefing in Abuja, Monday.
“In terms of funding, each member state will have to develop its strategic costed approach for preparedness for this epidemic.
“We will also have a strategic fund available to assist member states if and when the need arises,” he said.
Part of the communique, according to him, reads: “Following expert presentations on the global situation, the processes currently in place in the region and laboratory preparedness, the Ministers resolved to strengthen coordination, communication, and collaboration amongst Member States in preparedness for Covid-19 epidemic, including cross-border collaboration; enhance surveillance and management measures for Covid-19, particularly at entry points – air, land and sea; step up communication to ensure that the public receives accurate, appropriate and timely information regarding the epidemic and urgently strengthen critical national capacities for diagnosing and managing cases.”
The communique, he explained, further recommended that member states “develop a strategic costed regional preparedness plan based on Member States’ priorities for governments, partners, and the private sector to support; promote multi-sectoral national efforts using one-health approach to maximise impact; implement robust measures to assure availability of critical medical supplies, including laboratory materials, and personal protective equipment in the region; work closely with the relevant authorities of National Governments and the Chinese Government to monitor and assure the health situation of our citizens resident in China.”
Speaking, the Director General, West African Health Organisation (WAHO), Professor. Stanley Okolo, disclosed that the region may need within the range of 30 to 50 million dollars to combat the Covid-19 epidemic.
He, therefore, called on partners and the private sector to provide funding support to enable to region get the needed materials and equipment in preparedness for the epidemic.
“The devastation of an epidemic affects everybody including the private sector, partners and the people of the country,” Prof. Okolo, stressed.
While revealing the level of financial commitment of the region to combat the epidemic, he said: “On financing, one commitment that was made by member countries through their ministers of health is that, there should be a regional costed plan that is strategic and that they will support that to the best of their capacity.
“We learnt from the lessons of Ebola. When Ebola hit us, everybody accepts that there was slowness in not only getting the funds but also in response, both regionally and internationally.
“Ultimately, member states contributed a fund called the Ebola Fund which we have and also have partners bringing a lot of money.
“So, we are learning from that to prepare before hand. But one thing I want to get through the media today is that as the communique said, this is not for government alone.
“In our estimate, we do not think that it is something that we will require only about 5 million dollars. We think that it will be something of the upward of between 30 million and 50 million dollars to be sure that we can cater for some of weaker areas, that we can provide some of the critical Personal Protection Equipment, laboratory supplies and all that. Also, in terms of coordination and communication which is critical, particularly across boarder areas.”