COVID-19: West African College of Physicians Commend Government across Region for Surveillance

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Rebecca Ejifoma

The West African College of Physicians (WACP) has commended the national governments in the Sub Region for vamping up capacities for surveillance among other steps taken in each country to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic plaguing the globe.

Some of the steps it listed as contained in its press release include: programmes on palliatives taken to ameliorate the impact of lockdown on vulnerable population groups, vamping up of the capacities for surveillance, diagnosis and clinical care of infected persons.

Other steps are, the motivational packages of incentives offered to Healthcare Workers (HCWs): provision of life insurance/indemnity cover, salary enhancements, and the commitment to provision of work materials like personal protective equipment (PPE) required to assure the protection of HCWs.

According to the President FWACP, Dr Yveline Houenou, there has also been the regular appreciation and commendation of the efforts of HCWs in their life saving endeavors/services during these trying times.

She added: “The College is also desirous of thanking the many corporate bodies, development partners, donor agencies, overseas governments and friends of the sub region and Africa, and philanthropic, public spirited individuals and organisations.

Adding, she said their contributions and pledges in cash and or kind towards assisting with the response to the pandemic in the sub region was laudable.

While further applauding the president acknowledged that the efforts of the governments, individuals and organisations would have failed across the sub region without the understanding, support and resilience of the citizens.

“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,” she said.

In Houenou’s words, the College also believes that it would be possible within the common framework to work out schemes or programmes 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,” she pointed out.

Meanwhile, she called on the public and the governments of Chapter countries to contribute to the strengthening of the response to the pandemic in the sub region in particular, and in the continent and larger world in general.

WAPCP’s concerns are: the availability of diagnostic centres and reagents for testing for the confirmation of suspected cases; the protection of healthcare workers.

Others are: the need for the development of a common framework for the guidance of further response to the pandemic in the sub region, build on the opportunities offered by the pandemic, and resulting good will, to strengthen the public health capacity and infrastructure in Chapter countries.

The college added that there is need to secure the establishment, at strategic locations, of critical care centres for the clinical care of severely ill persons with HIDs including COVID-19, and Ebola and Lassa fevers.

It highlighted building on the opportunities offered by the pandemic for development of surveillance and research infrastructure and capacity, which are in dire need for effective public health response to outbreaks in the sub region.

And the conscious need for national governments to be aware of the availability of chapter members and Fellows to draw on in meeting the medical manpower needs of the response to the pandemic in potential and actual areas of want in national and sub region.

Established in 1976, WACP say it supports the recommendations of governments in the sub region on wearing facemasks in public, maintain physical distancing and regular hand hygiene practices.

Houenou, however, expressed an urgent need for countries to accelerate and expand testing including community testing for a more accurate understanding of the pandemic in the region and providing reliable evidence for the prioritisation of next actions.

“Any attempt to relax the lockdown measures should be taken with extreme caution and should be informed by COVID-19 testing and contact tracing capacity, and the availability of isolation facilities as we anticipate rapidly spreading community transmission.”

Therefore, there is need for community engagement and social mobilization using a network of community health workers, local health centres, community leaders and structures for infection prevention and control as well as risk communication.

The president further noted the college’s willingness 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.

She divulged: “Indeed, just as was done during the outbreak of Ebola, WACP has directed country chapters to form taskforces/groups for the purpose of actively interfacing with national and sub national governments to make their services available.”