The African Union (AU) has urged member states to enhance the general capacity of their respective health infrastructure in the wake of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
The disease which has been declared a global health pandemic has swept through 12 African countries.
In its communiqué issued after the 915th Peace and Security Meeting, the AU tasked the countries to implement an effective communication strategy in order to prevent the spread of misinformation which will create fear and panic.
Additionally, the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to immediately submit a supplementary budget for approval, to support countries that have been affected by the disease.
“All Member States, with the support of the Africa CDC, must take necessary measures to prevent and to contain the spread of COVID-19, including ensuring appropriate measure in public gathering places, such as schools and churches, as well as to have, at the local and national level, the capacity to test COVID-19, as well as to further enhance the general capacity of their national health infrastructure.”
ECOWAS acting under Article 7 of its protocol, the regional bloc’s peace and security council noted the following:
1. Commends the Africa CDC for the relentless efforts being deployed in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, and emphasizes the importance of constant adjustments/adaptation in response to the evolution of the situation on the ground;
2. Stresses the importance of a Continent-wide collective response to the COVID-19 and, in this context, underlines the importance of emulating the best practices and lessons learnt from the successful fight against the 2014 – 2016 West Africa Ebola Virus Disease outbreak, including the need to mobilize private sector resources;
3. Encourages all Member States, with the support of the Africa CDC, to take necessary measures to prevent and to contain the spread of COVID-19, including ensuring appropriate measure in public gathering places, such as schools and churches, as well as to have, at the local and national level, the capacity to test COVID-19, as well as to further enhance the general capacity of their national health infrastructure;
4. Underlines the urgent need to put in place an effective communication strategy and, in this context, requests the Africa CDC to effectively engage all media platforms, with a view to ensuring real time transmission of information relating to COVID-19, as well as to fight misinformation, which is exacerbating misconceptions and generating panic;
5. Appeals to the private sector and the international partners for financial and material support and, in this context, underscores the importance of redoubling efforts in mobilizing the required financial, material and human resources, in order to enable the Africa CDC to sustain its current operations and to be more effective in responding to COVID-19, and to this end,
6. Requests the Chairperson of the Commission to champion adequate responses to the COVID-19 outbreak, including through playing a lead role in mobilizing the resources required to effectively combat the COVID-19 scourge; encourages the Chairperson of the Commission to engage private sectors for their necessary support in responding to COVID-19;
7. Also requests the Africa CDC to immediately submit a supplementary budget to the relevant AU policy organs for approval, to allow the Africa CDC to continue with its activities in responding to COVID-19 outbreak in the Continent.
8. Also underscores the urgent need for the Africa CDC to brief the Permanent Representative Committee (PRC), in close collaboration with the authorities of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, in its capacity as country hosting the AU Headquarters, on the evolution of the situation and on the measures being deployed to effectively prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 throughout the Continent;
9. Requests the Africa CDC to ensure that all AU meetings, particularly those being convened at the AU Commission Headquarters, are properly serviced to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and, in this respect, requests the Commission to expedite the finalization of the Guidelines on Gatherings and Meetings, and to urgently disseminate them to the Member States in all official AU working languages;
10. Further requests the Africa CDC to continue to provide regular briefings to Council on the fight against COVID 19 in the Continent;Coro
11. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.