The members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) rose from their meeting on Friday with the agreement to re-open borders and to devote 15 percent of their annual budget to health.These form part of the decisions reached at the end of teleconference of extra-ordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of States and Governments of ECOWAS convened to deliberate on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Heads of States and Governments of ECOWAS took the decision at the end of their teleconference held to discuss the way forward during and after COVID-19.
The presidents decided that the borders of the countries should be opened to allow regional transportation of medical supplies, equipment and personnel to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the communiqué issued on Friday at the end of the teleconference meeting convened by the President of Niger and Chairman of the Authority, Mr. Issoufou Mahamadou, they expressed the need to develop healthcare in the sub-region has become more important in view of the virus.
It said that the resolution, which was reached in November 2014 at an Extraordinary Summit then convened on the Ebola Virus disease, was revisited and agreed to by the Authority.
“In terms of the fight against COVID-19, the Authority of Heads of States resolved to allocate, at least, 15 percent of their annual budget to strengthen their healthcare systems as recommended.
“Encourage Member-States to pool, as far as possible, their purchases of equipment and drugs to combat COVID-19;
“Continue to put in place humanitarian and palliative measures to assist their population, particularly through the distribution of foodstuffs and provision of financial assistance to the poor in strict compliance with the necessary health measures,” it said.
The Authority also enjoined all member-states to make their contribution to the African Union Solidarity Fund and strengthen cooperation between the African CDC and the WAHO in order to make support to the ECOWAS member-states more effective.
According to the communiqué, the Authority also agreed on the need to strengthen cooperation between member-states in research, training and experience sharing in health matters in general, and in the fight against COVID-19, in particular.
The need for continuous sensitisation of the West African citizens on the dangers of COVID-19 and the need for behavioural change, in order to contain the spread of the diseases was also brought to the fore.
The Summit commended member-states for their individual efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic in their countries and the palliative measures introduced to alleviate the negative impact of the pandemic on the people.