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Johannesburg, 8 June 2020: The African Peer Review Mechanism launched the Preliminary Report on Africa’s Governance Response to Covid-19 on a virtual platform. The launch was presided over by Honourable Senzo Mchunu Minister of Public Service and Administration for the Republic of South Africa in his capacity as the Chairperson of APRM Committee of Focal Points.
The virtual launch bears testimony to Africa’s adaption and resilience in these trying times. The aim of the launch was to ensure that the critical lessons in the report are shared across the continent as well as around the world.
From March 2020, selected African Union Member States went into lockdown introducing travel bans and quarantine measures in order to minimise physical contact and consequently transmission of COVID-19. This rendered it impossible for government staff and that of the African Union to physically meet and conduct the work of their respective institutions. Consequently, the APRM, under the leadership of CEO Eddy Maloka, introduced virtual working arrangements through which the study from which the report was developed was conducted.
The purpose of the preliminary report was to provide information that can be considered by various communities to inform the governance response to COVID-19 on the continent. The report is not a final verdict on the efficacy and effectiveness of the governance response to the pandemic, but rather an account of Africa’s early efforts to the pandemic. It can therefore be utilized to facilitate sharing and tested approaches.
The preliminary report has been launched successfully and it signals Africa’s leadership commitment to dealing with the epidemic. The report recounts the efforts by the African Union led by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and the various agencies of the Union.
The preliminary report highlights commendable policy responses that have been adopted during this period and presents recommendations for the AU and Member States in the biomedical, public health, economic and governance spheres.
These include the ratification of the African Risk Capacity Treaty as well as the assessment of the scientific, technological and institutional capacities of its member states, including their capacities for vaccine research and development, with a view to contributing to enhancing their ability to prepare for and management of disasters.
Recommendations for Member States call for countries to ensure that their COVID-19 containment measures protect human rights among others.
In his opening remarks, Hon. Senzo Mchunu and the APRM CEO Prof. Eddy Maloka both emphasised the wisdom of collective action and collaboration. They indicated that the report was an indication of what could be achieved through working together as African States, without negating national sovereignty but rather banding together to solve a crisis that has usurped the entire continent.
On behalf on H.E Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister of International Cooperation in South Africa, Hon. Dr Naledi Pandor applauded the AU’s ability to continue working during these trying times as well as the establishment of the African Covid-19 Response Fund which has thus far received $26 million dollars in pledges and the African Centre for Disease Control which has also raised a staggering $35 million in pledges. ‘This is commendable considering that 9 African countries have had their credit ratings downgraded to junk status since the breakout of the pandemic in Africa’. Minister Pandor went on to state that the pandemic had exposed the inequalities in healthcare and further brought to light research and innovation gaps. She urged that these were to be factored into the final draft of the report.
Deputy Chairperson of the AUC H.E. Dr Quartey Kwesi, called for the distribution of the report throughout member states and went further to suggest that simplified version should be published and distributed to communities throughout Africa so that everyone understands these proposed best practices.
In his opening remark, APRM Focal Point in Chad, Hon. Khayar Oumar Deffalah cautioned that COVID-19 had almost eclipsed other pandemics that Africans are grappling with as a result that they receive no media attention. He therefore urged that the final report should include strategies for Malaria, Ebola and other diseases as their effects are also devastating on the African continent, especially on children.
Ambassador Soha Gendi of Egypt affirmed that her country was in full support of the work being done by the APRM and commended that fact that this preliminary document was being launched despite the unfavorable conditions. Her sentiments where echoed by Dr John Nkengasong who is Director of Africa CDC who went on to Highlight the testing, tracing and community health worker deployment efforts being led by Africa CDC.
These pronouncements were buttressed by the chairperson of APRM Youth Network, Mr Moussa Nkondo who appreciated the inclusion of the youth in a such a platform and highlighted constraints brought about the reliance on technology for meetings as young people did not have access to the internet in many countries. He felt encouraged by initiatives demonstrated by young people who had sought to deal with their challenges by devising creative ways to partake in such platforms.
The overall launch was a resounding success and a demonstration to the world that Africa is capable of rising above its challenges when confronting a challenge such as COVID-19.
For inquiries please contact: Liziwe Masilela (Head of Communications APRM)