West Africa College of Physicians Calls for Common Framework among Countries

  • Express worries over total lockdown

Rebecca Ejifoma

The West African College of Physicians (WACP) has called for a common framework and guidance against COVID-19 pandemic across the sub region while expressing worries over total lockdown.

The Secretary-General of WACP, Dr. Albert Akpalu, made this clarion call in a media release the Treasurer, Prof. Enobong Ikpeme, issued.

According to him, for response to COVID-19, a common framework is required to guide policies on testing, enforcement of physical or social distancing, otherwise called lockdown, and other important outbreak mitigation measures.

“Such measures include: use of facemasks, and provision of palliatives to vulnerable segments of the population, and importantly also, the protection of human rights during lockdowns,” the secretary-general listed.

Akpalu urged: “West Africa countries must intensify efforts towards ensuring availability of diagnostic centres and reagents for testing for the confirmation of suspected cases.”

“The response to the pandemic this far has been pockmarked by many disparities and inadequacies, even within the same countries. This creates loopholes for the transmission and spread of the infection,” Akpalu warned.

Akpalu categorically noted that there had been significant variations in relation to testing, and there still are perhaps, which have distorted the perception and appreciation of the size of the pandemic in the sub region.

Speaking further, the secretary-general highlighted, “These have also impacted on the control efforts in as much as asymptomatic persons could unknowingly be made super spreaders of the infection”.

For WACP, it is possible to fashion out a common framework within which country-specific, and even state/district/city-specific responses could be worked out. “It would be possible within the common framework to work out schemes or programmes of assistance for countries and neighbours that are less endowed”.

Akpalu added: “There is need to work collectively to build on the opportunities offered by the pandemic, and resulting good will to strengthen the public health capacity and infrastructure in chapter countries.”

Accordingly, he continued that there was 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 fever.

“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.

“The conscious need for national governments to be aware of the ready availability of chapter Members and Fellows to draw on for national and sub-regional services in meeting the medical manpower needs of the response to the pandemic in potential and actual areas of want in countries of the sub region,” he said.

Meanwhile, the college expressed concerns over the secondary and unwanted effects of total or near total lockdowns, urging that the implementation and extent of lockdown should continue to be reviewed from time to time, and palliated as much as is possible.

“On behalf of WACP, I hereby assure 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,” Akpalu stated.

Not forgetting the efforts of corporate bodies, development partners, donor agencies, overseas governments and friends of the sub region and Africa, and philanthropists among others, WACP lauded them.

WACP commeded the West African and African Centers for Disease Control (WAHO), WHO, the national public health institutions and the sub regional, regional and global public health institutions in their responses to the pandemic in the sub region.