UN Agencies helped to manage COVID-19 – Coordinator

Mr Charles Abani
Mr Charles Abani

Mr Charles Abani, the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, has said the UN agencies, in consultation with key implementing partners, helped to manage the Covid-19 pandemic through well-coordinated interventions.

He said the multi-sectoral interventions provided a boost in early case identification and management of the disease in the high burden regions of the country, in alignment to the national COVID-19 response plan.

Those interventions also contributed to strengthening health systems, suppressed transmission of the virus, and increased community resilience to build back better, he said.

Mr Abani said this during the World Bank Pandemic Emergency Financing (PEF) Facility Project closeout meeting, in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), in Accra.

The meeting marked the climax of the implementation of interventions aimed at addressing critical gaps in Ghana’s COVID-19 response, and a key to commitment and accountability of funds allocated to address the pandemic in Ghana.

Mr Abani said in July 2020, the World Bank, under the PEF Facility, allocated $3.3 million to accredited UN agencies and IFRC to implement interventions aimed at addressing critical gaps in Ghana’s COVID-19 response.

The UN agencies included the World Health Organisation, World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organisation, United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, and United Nations Population Fund.

Mr Abani said all the proposed initiatives were in line with the National Health Plan, Wash Response Plan, First World Food Security Survey in Ghana, the National Gender Policy, and the Global IFRC COVID-19 emergency appeal.

All those works were aligned with the UN’s CPRP, which was our immediate response when COVID-19 started and also informed by the contextual analysis that was done concurrently in the middle of last year to ensure access to some basic services.

Mr Ken Ofori Attah, the Minister of Finance, said the pandemic exposed deep structural fragilities that required urgent attention, particularly in relation to the development of health infrastructure, boosting local manufacturing, improving sanitation and streamlining education delivery.

“To build up back better and greener, we must reorient our approach and share a moral sense of duty to act wherever and whenever the pandemic brings about deficient social outcomes,” he said.

“Without this, we could be staring down the possibility of a lost decade characterised by sub-optimal socio-economic outcomes across Africa and the rest of the world.”

The Minister said Ghana’s attempt to protect lives and livelihoods in the wake of COVID-19 resulted in the growth being revised downwards from 6.8 per cent to 0.4 per cent.

Specifically, the combined fiscal impact of the shortfall in revenues and additional expenditures to contain the pandemic was estimated at GHC25.3 billion (6.6% of GDP).

“In this light, the joint COVID-19 humanitarian response under the World Bank PEF facility was a timely and welcomed intervention and I extend my sincere appreciations to the UN Country Team for the support provided under the facility,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.

He expressed the hope of seeing additional collaborations, partnerships, and a substantial availability of resources from the UN system, World Bank, and other stakeholders towards implementing policy initiatives to finance the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines and development of essential drugs and other pharmaceutical products.

Madam Agata Pawlowska, Operations Manager, World Bank, said the fund provided was in the spirit of expanding government capacity to do more.

She expressed delight at the tremendous efforts of government and partners to combat the pandemic as well as to advance the progress towards universal health coverage.

Madam Gifty Tetteh, the Partnership Coordinator, said the joint programme was in four thematic areas: Health, WASH, Food Security and Sexual and Gender Based Violence, and was targeted at six regions identified as the Pandemic hotspot, including the Greater Accra, Ashanti, Western, Central, Volta and Northern.

Some challenges identified include structural modifications of isolation treatment centres, delays in procurement and supply of personal protective equipment, and biomedical equipment, the school closure’s effect on the overall progress of the project, inadequate funds and institutional bureaucracy processes, she said.

“Building coherent data, sustaining positive behaviour change, moving with technology, supply chain destructions, prioritizing the most vulnerable partnerships, were some of the lesson learnt from the joint programme,” she added.

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