Professor Joseph Atsu Ayee, senior lecturer, Political Science Department, University of Ghana, has urged ECOWAS Heads of States to hold an emergency video conference to discuss their strategic response in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Prof Atsu Ayee urged ECOWAS leaders to hold zoom virtual meeting or a meeting over Skype, to see how best they could deal with the pandemic at the sub-regional.
He said since the COVID-19 pandemic cuts across the globe, there was, therefore, the need for ECOWAS leaders to support each other in the fight against it.
He also urged ECOWAS leaders to adopt a holistic approach in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in the sub-region.
He noted that at the moment, ECOWAS member states were fighting the COVID-19 pandemic themselves alone; however, there was the need for them to collaborate in dealing with the disease pandemic.
He said despite the border closures by member states; as part of efforts to deal with the pandemic, because of the porous nature of their national borders, there was the likelihood that a nation which was able to contain the disease could have it re-emerging as a result of people still travelling within the West African sub-region due to their porous national borders.
He cited the instance of nationals from Guinea and Burkina Faso, who were infected with the COVID-19 virus travelling to Ghana, despite the border closed measures put in place by the Government to prevent the spread of the disease.
Prof Atsu Ayee cautioned that people were still moving around the sub-region irrespective of the border closure because of the porous national borders, which was hampering efforts to contain the disease.
“So far, I think that the response has been countries specific and if it is that way, we are not going to win the war. And it means that even if Ghana has done its part; has been able to control the spread of the infection, maybe because of the travelling from other countries, people would still have been coming in and then would have still transferred the virus,” he said.
“So, I think that we have not done well as a sub-region in dealing with the matter regionally.”
He noted that this was so because the disease outbreak took everybody by surprise.
He said the way and manner in which the COVID-19 was able to spread across the countries of the world shows that the world had become a global village.
“So, if today there is an outbreak of an epidemic somewhere it can go across countries; so it took the world by storm. But how do we deal with that and even if we look at all the countries, they are dealing with it individually.”
He said many countries were overwhelmed by the problem, which had led to them adopting a knee jerk approach in dealing with the issue individually; adding that “and that is human and then now that we are trying to control the virus, it means that we should also think of how to deal with it jointly”.
He urged ECOWAS and its member states to establish strong institutions that would deal holistically with the issue of pandemic and disaster risk governance.
He said one of the lessons ECOWAS and its member states could also learn from COVID-19 was how they could rebuild institutions or restructure institution; because currently most or some of the institutions were not equip well enough to deal with this pandemic.
He said COVID-19 pandemic had stormed all the countries and had even brought the advanced countries to their knees; stating that “the way forward is the pulling of resources together across the world”.
“We must all pool our resources together and fight COVID-19 as a common enemy but not on this ad-hock, piecemeal individual efforts by country which will not yield much fruit”.
“It is a global pandemic and so we need to deal with it globally and not individually as countries.”
Prof Atsu Ayee appealed to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be more assertive in dealing with COVID-19 and to back its advice with concrete action.