The West African College of Physicians (WACP) has proposed a common framework among member countries in the sub-region in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to WACP, this has become necessary because the response to the pandemic has thus far been characterized by numerous disparities, inadequacies and loopholes thereby facilitating the transmission of the infection.
“The WACP believes that it is possible to fashion out a common framework within which country-specific and even state, district, city-specific responses could be worked out. The College also believes that it would be possible within the common framework, to work out schemes or programs of assistance for those countries and neighbours that are less endowed. This is in the spirit of good neighbourliness. We all indeed need one another, and no country should think that it has all, and could do without help, ” the group said in the statement.
The college said there have been significant variations in relation to testing which has perhaps distorted the perception and appreciation of the size of the pandemic in the sub-region.
This, it said has also impacted the control efforts in as much as asymptomatic persons could unknowingly be made super-spreaders of the infection.
“A common framework for response to COVID-19 is required to guide policies on testing, enforcement of physical (social) distancing, otherwise called lockdown, and other important outbreak mitigation measures including the use of facemasks, and provision of palliatives to vulnerable segments of the population, and importantly also, the protection of human rights during lockdowns,” WACP advised.
Meanwhile, WACP says it wholeheartedly supports the recommendations of governments in the sub-region that everyone should wear face masks while out in public or in transit, maintain physical distancing and practice regular and frequent hand hygiene practices.
“These measures should be continued while the pandemic lasts, ” it said.
The College is however concerned with the secondary and unwanted effects of total or near-total lockdowns.
WACP, therefore, urged that the implementation and extent of lockdown should continue to be reviewed from time to time, and palliated as much as is possible.
It assured the public and national governments in the sub-region of the willingness of the WACP to offer her professional services and to assist where and when help is needed towards the successful mitigation of the pandemic in the sub-region.
West Africa case situation
All 16 West African countries, obviously inclusive of the 14 Chapters of the WACP, now have confirmed cases and deaths.
West African countries together have a total of over 16, 000 confirmed cases and more than 300 deaths.
The crude case fatality in West African countries is of a wide range, between 0.5% in Guinea and 12.5% in Mauritania.
Among the WACP Chapters, four countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire) with a combined total of 6,667 confirmed cases accounted for about 65% of the confirmed cases in the sub-region as of the beginning of May 2020.
And, with over 90 deaths, the four countries also accounted for about 32% of the total number of deaths in West Africa.