COVID-19: Ibn Chambas calls for a new approach in Africa


By Anayo Ezugwu

AS Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to ravage the African continent, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, special representative, United Nations Secretary-General and head, United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, UNOWAS, has called for a new approach to human progress. He said there was need for African leaders to pause for a moment and deeply reflect as individuals and nations on overall conception and approach to the virus.

Speaking at the Ishmael Yamson and Associates Businesses Roundtable in Ghana on Wednesday May 27, Chambas said the fact that the pandemic continues to cost thousands of human lives, wreak havoc to the socio-economic order, impact negatively on peace and stability and expose limitations of the global governance system, which is bereft of solidarity, should be of major concern to all. He said it is even defining how people relate to each other and testing the values on relationships.

“We are indeed in turbulent times. As I speak, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all the countries in our region. As of 25 May, the West African Health Organisation, WAHO, had reported 29772 confirmed cases and 627 deaths in the West African region. According to the African Centre for Disease Control, as of 26 May, the West African region was the second most affected region in the continent after the North African region.

“The pandemic is one of the most consequential health crises of our time with multidimensional implications. Addressing it will require the rapid restoration of unity of purpose and global solidarity to ensure an effective global response. Having said that, I am encouraged by the actions enacted at national, regional and continental levels.

“Member States have taken specific steps to curb the spread of the pandemic by quickly implementing effective restrictive and sanitary protocols, tracing and testing measures, as well as emergency economic and financial interventions to cushion the effects on populations,” he said.

At the regional level, Chambas urged ECOWAS to continue to provide the requisite political leadership and technical assistance to its member states. “On 23 April, the Heads of State and Government during an extraordinary summit decided that the containment, prevention and fight against COVID-19 remain a major priority.

“They took key decisions to stop the spread of the virus, ensure coherence and coordination in the response in addition to taking appropriate and wide-ranging measures to contain the impact of the  pandemic and revive the economies. The ECOWAS Commission through WAHO has been assisting member States in the provision of essential medical equipment and supplies as well as technical assistance in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, WHO.

“Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) has developed a Joint Continental Strategy for the COVID-19 to promote coordination in the response. The Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has been spearheading the technical assistance, while the Chairperson of the African Union and the African Union Commission have increased advocacy to mobilise resources.

“The AU and the CDC have also launched the Africa COVID-19 Response Fund, a public-private partnership initiative to prevent transmission and support sustainable medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The response by the United Nations has been swift with WHO in the lead. The Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, has stated that UN staff will stay to deliver.

“This largely explains why UN Country Teams have stepped up engagements with Member States to contribute towards the development and implementation of national emergency response plans through the provision of financial and technical assistance.”

– May 29, 2020 @ 16:55 GMT |

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