By Godfrey Olukya
KAMPALA, Uganda (AA) – An eight-nation African trade bloc on Monday met remotely to talk ways to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, which to date has infected over 755,00 people worldwide.
They discussed it in a live teleconference of the special summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) heads of states and governments on the pandemic.
Attendees included Djibouti Presient Ismail Omar Guelleh, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, and South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar.
According to a statement released by Uganda's state house, discussions focused on IGAD’s regional response strategy to the pandemic, establishment of an IGAD emergency fund, mobilizing support from the international community, and mobilizing support from IGAD medical professionals in the diaspora.
The statement said: “The leaders expressed grave concerns on the pandemic, which has constituted an unprecedented global health crisis affecting the health and economies of the world.
“They collectively agreed to formulate a comprehensive regional response strategy and an accompanying implementation plan to address the pandemic in the region. The members agreed to strengthen the IGAD response mechanism through increased utilization of regional disease surveillance and early warning response system.
- Support from international community
“They further agreed to the establishment of an IGAD emergency for the control and prevention of control of pandemics to which they called upon the international community to render support to.
“On the matter of mobilizing support from the international community, the leaders called upon international financial institutions, bilateral and regional and international partners especially the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank to accelerate debt relief processes and provide access to financial assistance, concessionary loans and essential support to the member states and secretariat.”
The meeting also hailed the efforts and initiative of Sudan’s Hamdok, the IGAD chair, for mobilizing support from the international community to combat the pandemic in the IGAD region.
The members also welcomed the intervention by Ethiopia’s Ahmed to mobilize international support for the region and the generous donation of medical supplies, testing kits, and personal protective equipment from the founder and director of the Alibaba Group to African countries including IGAD member states.
They praised the efforts of the World Health Organization (WHO) to coordinate global and regional awareness of the pandemic, including giving support to the national health systems of IGAD countries, and further commended the tremendous efforts of stakeholders to ensure the continuity of supply chains and providing essential services for the population of the IGAD region.
They also thanked the African Center for Disease Control for their proactive role and support through marshaling healthcare providers and emergency response teams as well as providing medical supplies.
They also praised the extraordinary sacrifices made by the healthcare providers in the IGAD region.