By John Okeke
The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis has lamented over the adverse effects of the pandemic in the region .
Tunis who spoke at the Closing Session of the 2nd Extraordinary Meeting of the 5th Legislature of ECOWAS Parliament held virtually said the effect has metamorphosed into increase in poverty in the region .
He called on legislators in the region to collaborate with the various government to ease the effect .
“Our greatest impediment is the prevailing Covid 19 pandemic, which has ravaged the world. Meanwhile, there is so much work to be done out there. Our people are wallowing in poverty, which has further been compounded by the downward trend in economic activities occasioned by the prevailing situation. The world, especially our sub-region, is under the threat of hunger. Even though we are in the rainy season, restrictions occasioned by the pandemic have made farming activities difficult. As Parliamentarians, we must fashion out a way of proposing cushioning effects. There is no doubt that the remaining part of 2020 and early 2021 would be highly challenging, both economically and socially. Ours is to collaborate with our Governments, both at national and regional levels, to ensure that we protect the interest of our people and work towards easing their affairs during this anticipated difficult period.”
“There is no doubt that we have the capacity to play that role. But we must remain committed and dedicated. We must remain steadfast and always put the interest of the people above self-interest. We must be prepared to face some little inconveniences in our daily routine just to serve our people at these highly unprecedented times,” he said.
He continued,” Permit me to state that one of the negative effects of the ongoing pandemic is the lack of access to medical care by our people with other ailments. Admittedly, Covid 19 is highly contagious and everybody wants to do all within his/her power to avoid being infected. That is a natural human response to a situation like the one we found ourselves. But we are aware that several patients with other ailments are being turned back, especially where symptoms are similar to that of the corona virus. Patients on the other hand, have resulted to self-medication due to the general reluctance to visit hospitals and consult medical personnel, again for fear of getting infected. I am afraid that at the end of the pandemic, we may be faced with two sets of fatalities; those whose deaths are a result of the virus and those who, for fear of the virus, succumb to other ailments. It is important at this juncture to counsel on how to ensure that our people access health care facilities despite the pandemic.
“Our medical workers need all the protection to be able to discharge their functions. To this end I appeal to our Governments, donor organisations and wealthy individuals to assist by providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This would in no small measure, boost the morale of health workers and give them adequate latitude to give their best. Furthermore, all health facilities should provide for handwashing, as well as social distancing, while attending to patients. On their part, patients should ensure they wear face masks always, especially when visiting hospitals. They should also endeavor to be factual in their narration to Doctors and avoid going to conventional hospitals when they feel Covid 19 symptoms or believe they were exposed at any point in time. These measures, if adopted, would assist significantly in mitigating fatalities during this very difficult period.”
“As we draw the curtains on the 2020 2nd Extra Ordinary Session, let me task you that our duty as Community Parliamentarians is not restricted to when we hold meetings or other activities. We remain Community Members of Parliament where ever we find ourselves. We should, therefore, endeavor to preach the ideal of ECOWAS at all times and in all places,” he said.