By Obioma C. Appolos
ITUC-Africa, the umbrella body of all labour centres in Africa, has urged African leaders to join forces to fight the COVID-19 pandemic as a common threat that faces the entire continent, saying leaders of the continent must put themselves in “war situation”
The ITUC-Africa said the collective survival of the continent is at stake and african governments and all well-meaning groups in the continent must mobilise all human and material resources for suppressing the virus and preventing a full scale epidemic in order to secure our survival as a people.
In statement which was signed by Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, the General Secretary of ITUC-Africa, the organisation said “indications are that the hardest hit countries where COVID-19 has wreaked the most havoc to date are the countries that allowed the virus to reach epidemic proportions before taking emergency measures”.
He said that Africa must learn from the experiences of such countries and not make such mistakes due to weak health system in most African countries.
“we consider the scale of the economic and social disruption already caused by COVID-19 in the last few months, it is clear that this is unparalleled since World War II. And if we are to face up to the truth of the world’s condition today we must admit that a world war is already underway in which humanity is pitched against a virus as invisible enemy,” the statement stressed.
According to the ITUC-Africa general Secretary, countries must give priority investment in public health with particular attention to massive education on preventive measures in this battle, such as the symptoms of the virus, immediate reporting of the symptoms to the health authorities for medical attention, social distancing, observing the prescribed hygiene protocols for preventing and controlling the virus.
According to him, securing Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) for health workers; increasing the number of health workers and supporting staff; provisioning for extensive testing and contact tracing of persons who may be infected with the virus should be given priority.
The regional body also advocated for measures to support workers, which includes sick leave, wage support, food support, rent and mortgages reliefs and accommodation support.
Further, it urged its affiliates to pressure their their respective countries to declare a state of emergency that will allow for the mobilisation of every resources, including military to combat the pandemic.
The statement reads further, “Clear identification of essential goods and services that need to be produced and distributed to secure the survival of the people under a state of emergency. These will include food, water, electricity, sanitation, health and medical supplies, telecommunication and communication and mobilizing our scientific community, our captains of industry and work force for the production of such necessities.
“In this regard, our scientific and research community, in particular, should be challenged and encouraged to discover their self-confidence and ingenuity, through research and experimentation, to find homegrown, scientific, medical solutions to this virus, rather than us simply continuing along the blind path of ready consumption and reliance on the products of the external world.”