Managing Coronavirus in Ghana – Use Bulk of Funds for Research-related activities – Pack Africa

We wish to commend Government of Ghana for the announcement made on Wednesday, 11th March 2020 to the effect of releasing the cedi equivalent of one hundred million US dollars (USD 100 Million) for combating coronavirus in the country. This is in line with what other countries are doing with respect to the pandemic – with China committing 16 Billion USD, 12 Billion GBP by the UK, and 28.3 Billion USD by Italy.

With a culture of high ‘patronage’ in the country, however, and with the 2020
elections fast approaching, we wish to draw attention of government that we are also
aware of the temptation to expend some of the funds on activities that may benefit
resource mobilisation efforts towards the upcoming elections. We wish to encourage
government to resist that temptation, and make use of this emergency funds for
activities that will address immediate and remote concerns on the disease.

Since coronavirus (COVID-19) is a scientific phenomenon, we request that government concentrates the bulk of the funds to the production and use of evidence, which will be necessary to make informed decisions in the quest to combat the disease in Ghana. Much of the knowledge that is available currently on this pandemic is as a result of investments by the Chinese government at the onset of the condition in their country. Ghana should be able to invest in medical research and multi-disciplinary studies to acquire unique insights on COVID-19 in the country.

Potential areas for investment of the funds may include disease surveillance, studies
on public health and health service management for the disease, efficacy of hygiene interventions and other preventive measures, COVID-19 as a zoonotic disease, risk communication and community engagement, tackling COVID-19 as disaster
management, studies on the effects of COVID-19 on supply chain management,
efficacy of measures to tackle fake news on COVID-19, crisis modelling, economic
impacts, social stigma and cultural customs and their impacts, and statistical analysis
of various kinds, including those on vulnerable populations.

We are sure that these varied studies, and the evidence that will be produced from
them (including the data, publications, tacit knowledge), when juxtaposed with the
views of citizens (through regular interaction) will provide the necessary resources to technically combat the pandemic, whiles allaying fears among the public.

Following these recommendations therefore, we wish to express our greatest
commitment to pursuing this matter to its utmost conclusion. As the Minster for
Information (Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah) suggested in an interview on Citi FM on
Thursday, management of this fund should not be the regular political issue of the
Minority against government. COVID-19 is a national crisis that can be sufficiently
resolved with substantial use of adequate quality evidence.

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