The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has pledged its commitment to member states in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
The West African Health Organisation (WAHO), ECOWAS’ specialised health institution responsible for coordinating the response at the sub regional level, has drawn up a regional strategic plan with all member states.
A statement by the ECOWAS Commission, signed by its President, Dr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, indicated that “to address the emergency at hand, ECOWAS has immediately made available financial support from its own resources, in addition to assistance from international partners, for the purchase of medical supplies and equipment essential for the fight against the pandemic.”
According to the statement, ECOWAS continues to closely monitor the evolution of the pandemic in the world and particularly in West Africa.
The Commission noted that, as of April 5 2020, the 15 member states are affected by the pandemic with 1,739 confirmed cases of contamination, 55 deaths and 328 persons who have fully recovered. It added that approximately 95 per cent of deaths are patients with comorbid conditions.
So far, WAHO has purchased and dispatched to the 15 member states 30,500 diagnostic test kits; 10,000 Personal Protective Equipment, made up of coveralls, aprons, gowns, gloves, goggles, boots; and 740,000 prescription tablets (Chloroquine and Azithromycin).
“Orders have also been placed to acquire for Member States, the following items: 240,000 diagnostic kits; 240,000 extraction kits; 250,000 viral sample transport equipment; 285,100 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); 268,1000 masks for medical personnel (face masks, surgical masks, full face masks); 120 ventilators; and several thousand litres of alcohol gel and disinfectants,” it said.
It said WAHO is also working, in close collaboration with the specialised services in member states, to deploy personnel and epidemiological surveillance and data collection tools, strengthen the capacity of reference laboratories and train technical personnel.
ECOWAS further noted that it is working in conjunction with WAHO to continue both internal and external resource mobilisation, with a view to increasing the availability of medical materials and equipment necessary to prevent, monitor and combat this pandemic. This is expected to expand its scope of support to supplement member states’ own efforts.
“ECOWAS is working to complement its intervention as part of a Short and Medium Term State Assistance Plan (humanitarian assistance and support for economic recovery),” it said.
It thanked all its partners for their financial and technical support to the Community in these difficult times, while urging its citizens to continue to implement the measures recommended by the health authorities, and to comply with the prescribed hygiene guidelines.
While reaffirming its solidarity with member states, the ECOWAS Commission said it welcomes all the measures already taken to contain the spread of the pandemic and care for the sick.