WAHO Calls on ECOWAS Leaders to Mobilize Resources to Fight Covid-19
…as only Ghana and Cape Verde are able to test at least 1% of its population
The West African Health Organisation, WAHO, has called on leaders of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, to mobilize resources for research to be able to fight against the scourge of Covid-19.
The Director General of the Organization, Professor Stanley Okolo gave the charge during a presentation at the opening of the 2nd Extra Ordinary Session of the fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament, held virtually.
He said due to the high cost of conducting Covid-19 test, only Ghana and Cape Verde are able to test at least one percent of their population.
“We have put ourselves, both us and the African CDC, that the whole continent should by the end of June tested about 1% of our population. Only Ghana has done that so far. The rest, we have not been able to test one percent of our population, although Ghana and Cape Verde because Cape Verde have tested over 7% of their population. This is the reality of where we are, that because of the cost of test, because of having to ramp up laboratories, because of having to get people to go and test, it is difficult for us even to meet a tenth of what is happening in developed world.”
He however commended the region for setting up more Covid-19 test laboratories, which has increased from 2 to 107.
Professor Okolo said WAHO would provide support to research institutions in the region and called for support instead of depending on foreign donors.
“We think that we should pull financial resources in order to compete favourably in acquiring Covid-19 Vaccines”.
“We are supporting some of the industries in terms of COVID-19, we think that parliament should also help us support them through Private-Public Partnership (PPP)”.
“At the moment, the one industry that is definitely looking at diagnostic tests is the Institute Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal and we have signed a MoU with them and we have put some seed funding aside which we will invest in them”.
“We think that this institute, if the tests are available from the end of this month or early next month, West Africa can buy it at very cheap cost”.
“We are looking at about two dollars or three dollars, whereas you find that the similar test kit in the open market is about 9 dollars or 10 dollars”.
Speaking on opening of borders, the WAHO DG noted that free movement of people is the bedrock of the ECOWAS therefore the parliament must do all it can to sustain it.
“We understand the need to close borders because of lockdowns, but lockdowns do not flatten the curve of the pandemic. So we must consider the balance between lockdowns and destroying our economy”.
According to Professor Okolo, WAHO and the three ministerial coordinating committees (Health, Finance and Transport on Trade) have agreed on certain specific guidelines for opening up of borders and called on the Parliament to support the initiatives.