We are faced with the ugly and frightening prospect of the Corona Virus affecting The Gambia. It therefore behoves all of us to stand by and support the Government of The Gambia in its efforts to contain this pandemic. We must all adhere to the preventive measures put in place by the relevant authorities. The United Democratic Party will work with the Government of The Gambia to combat the spread of the Virus and fully support and participate in any awareness campaign that the Government may embark on.
Once again the United Democratic Party joins the rest of the world to express our grave concern about the rapid spread of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) worldwide. With the declaration of the outbreak as a global pandemic last week by the World Health Organization (WHO), The Gambia needs a proactive, decisive and forward thinking strategy to deal with this global menace. Although there has been no reported cases of Corona Virus in The Gambia, we are aware that there are several cases reported in Senegal that has warranted strict public health measures such as the closing of schools for the next three weeks in that country.
The UDP urges the government of The Gambia to convene a meeting of stakeholders and set up a national emergency response team comprised of relevant government departments, local government authorities, and Non-governmental Organizations (NGO) public health partners in the country to assess our health infrastructures’ level of preparedness to address any potential outbreak; testing/screening capacity; availability of protective medical supplies for frontline healthcare providers; continued public health awareness campaigns to educate the population on preventive measures and mitigate the spread of false information about the virus; ensure availability of water and hand washing stations at public places. Should there be any confirmed case(s) in The Gambia, at minimum, we need to implore the public to limit gatherings to decrease the risk of the spread of the virus in our communities.
The consequences of this global pandemic is more than just a public health crisis; it has affected every sector of the world’s economy, as countries scramble to design stringent measures to contain the spread of the virus. The UDP encourages the government to implement policies and measures to adequately prepare for the economic consequences of the pandemic. The economic fallout for The Gambia is likely to be severe and long lasting due to our high debt burden and heavy dependence on foreign imports. Since the Gambia relies heavily on imported foods and other goods, the UDP is concerned about a potential food shortage and increase in prices of other commodities. We urge the government to have consultations with the business community and other relevant authorities to assess the potential impact on food importation; design measures to address any potential food shortage crisis; assess the financial impact on the Gambia Revenue Authority and tourism sector and formulate appropriate policies to address all these potential fallouts.
The United Democratic Party urges the media fraternity to partner with government and civil society to ensure that education/awareness on Corona Virus reaches the masses. Members of the public are advised to heed the messages shared by the Ministry of Health, WHO and other health professionals on curbing the spread of the virus such as proper hand washing with soap, avoiding close contact with sick individuals and staying home and getting medical attention if not feeling well.
The United Democratic Party, through our National Assembly Members, Mayors and Chairmen of local government authorities, is ready to, and will, stand by and support the government of The Gambia with any interventions and measures to deal with the pandemic and alleviate its economic consequences. We cannot afford to get this one wrong!
I have personally made arrangements for the installation by members of the Youth Wing of the party of 16 hand washing stations in the Greater Banjul Area to promote WHO’s THE #SAFEHANDS CHALLENGE.
As we call on all Gambians of faith to pray for The Gambia and the world at large for the Almighty God to curb the spread of this deadly virus, the United Democratic Party seizes this opportunity to congratulate H.E President Adama Barrow for his decision to address the nation on this most important national issue.
UNITED DEMOCRATIC PARTY SECRETARIAT
NO. 1 RENE BLAIN STREET
BANJUL, THE GAMBIA
17 MARCH 2020