On Wednesday, August 19, 2020, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in partnership with STAR-Ghana Foundation organized a multi-stakeholder engagement to scale-up and strengthen efforts to fighting COVID-19 in Ghana. The overall goal of the meeting is to promote collaboration, learning, and documentation of stakeholders’ responses to COVID-19 in Ghana. The virtual meeting brought together stakeholders from Government, Private Sector, and Civil Society in sharing lessons and experiences, promoting collaboration and visioning a future with COVID-19 to a wider public audience.
In attendance at this meeting were Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah (MP), Minister of Information, Republic of Ghana, Ms. Nana Asantewa Afadizu, Executive Director, WACSI, Alhaji Amidu Ibrahim-Tanko, STAR-Ghana Foundation, Dr. Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, Ghana Health Service, Mr. Senyo Kwasi Hosi, Ghana COVID-19 Private Sector Fund, Dr. Afisa Zakariah, Ministry of Gender and Social Protection and was moderated by Ms. Shamima Muslim.
In response to Government’s intervention in the fight of the pandemic, the Honourable Minister of Information highlighted some areas which were undertaken in order to reduce the spread of the virus which included the five path strategy namely: limit the importation of the virus into the country, contain the spread within the Ghanaian eco-system, provide adequate awareness and care for the sick, limit the impact of the virus on the social and economic life of the Ghanaian, and take advantage of the opportunity that COVID-19 may bring to expand domestic capability and deepen self-reliance.
Mr. Nkrumah cited that the country has been able to educate Ghanaians on the safety protocols which are to be observed during the pandemic by engaging the various agencies responsible for information dissemination as well as the health sectors with the view of recruiting them as collaborators in the education exercise. Mr. Nkrumah, also stated that these interventions have helped to ease the restrictions in the country as secondary and tertiary institutions are opening with all protocols being observed as well as normalizing the living capacities of the people.
These and many other interventions were cited as Government intervention including investing in the testing capacities across the 16 regions of the country by providing machinery, logistic for laboratory testing, providing a human resource for efficiency, ensuring a direct stakeholder engagement between political parties, Civil Society Organization and traditional rulers with the aim of achieving a common goal of fighting this pandemic, provision of free water and electricity for some category of consumers, supporting small businesses that may have been badly hit among others.
The private sector, also represented by Mr. Senyo Hosi gave an account of how the sector is or has been supporting the fight against the pandemic in Ghana. Mr. Hosi cited that the private sector started the Ghana COVID-19 Private Sector fund to provide a prompt response to the hardship and suffering arising out of the pandemic since march 2020. Through the fund, the private sector has constructed Ghana’s first 100-bed infectious disease facility center in Accra to house the first batch of critically ill COVID-19 patients for treatment. In addition to its support, the fund also fed the underprivileged during the lockdown in the country as well as feeding the front-line health workers.
Civil Society Organizations in Ghana were also not left out of the conversation as Alhaji Amidu Ibrahim-Tanko shared some of the successes it chalked together with the private sector and the role the media played in providing timely information as far as responding to COVID-19 is concerned. Mr. Tanko, in his submission, highlighted that the impact of COVID-19 on Civil Societies in Ghana has been heavily affected as support from donors to these organizations has declined and repurposed. He also called for local philanthropy as a way of sustaining Civil Societies as a response in the future. Mr. Tanko reiterated that in April 2020, STAR-Ghana Foundation had initiated its coordinated response program to complement and deepen planned and ongoing efforts of the Civil Society sector. The project christened as the ‘Ghana Covid-19 Response Project’ (CRP) with its aim of supporting and coordinating Civil Society actions around Covid-19 prevention, management, and mitigation.
Other stakeholders including representatives from the Ghana Health Service, the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection shared their experiences as far as their response in combatting COVID-19 is concerned.
The two (2) hour virtual meeting met its objective of providing the enabling environment of stakeholders across the various sectors to share lessons and experiences from their respective COVID-19 responses in Ghana.
By Mawuena Agede,