By Yankuba Jallow
Fifteen countries in West Africa have registered COVID-19 cases totalling 1739 confirmed cases, 55 deaths and 328 recoveries as of 5th April.
The confirmation of this information was made by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in their press release dated 6th April 2020. It suggested that 95% of the dead patients were with comorbid conditions.
According to the release, ECOWAS made available financial support to member states including The Gambia from its own resources, in addition to assistance from international partners, for the purchase of medical supplies and equipment essential for the fight against the pandemic.
The West African Health Organisation (WAHO) has already purchased and dispatched to the 15 member states 30,500 diagnostic test kits, 10,000 personal protective equipment (coveralls, aprons, gowns, gloves, goggles, boots) and 740,000 prescription tablets (Chloroquine and Azithromycin).
ECOWAS said they have placed orders to acquire 240,000 diagnostic kits, 240,000 extraction kits, 250,000 viral sample transport equipment, 285,100 personal protective equipment, 268,1000 masks for medical personnel (face masks, surgical masks, full face masks), 120 ventilators and several thousand litres of alcohol gel and disinfectants.
The release indicated that WAHO is also working, in close collaboration with the specialised services in Member States, to deploy personnel and epidemiological surveillance and data collection tools, strengthen the capacity of reference laboratories and train technical personnel.
ECOWAS and its Institution, WAHO reiterated that they will continue with both internal and external resource mobilisation, with a view to increasing the availability of medical materials and equipment necessary to prevent, monitor and combat this pandemic with the target to expand its scope of support to supplement Member States’ own efforts.
The report indicated that ECOWAS is working to complement its intervention as part of a Short and Medium Term State Assistance Plan (humanitarian assistance and support for economic recovery).