The National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) Covid-19 Technical Advisory Team, has made recommendations to the government as to the best way to deal with the novel coronavirus.

The committee, under the leadership of former President, John Dramani Mahama, has recommended among other things, “the inclusion of COVID-19 testing and treatment to the NHIS’ list of essential health benefits.”

According to a statement signed by the committee Chairman, Prosper Bani, the suggestions enumerated by the team comprise “considerations with respect to the strategy employed (lockdown), and contains our recommendations about achieving the specific technical objectives of that decision.”

In a four-point communique, the team outlined a multifaceted number of factors that they believe could help mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

They focused on public health management, information management, community impact mitigation and safeguarding the economy.

On the aspect of public health management, the NDC Covid-19 Advisory team entreated the government to place public service providers “on a disaster preparedness footing” while “private facilities must be given immediate support to adopt that posture as well.”

“One key aspect of this is the immediate settlement of NHIA debt to providers, the suspension of capitated outpatient payments, and the inclusion of COVID-19 testing and treatment to the NHIS’ list of essential health benefits. These will provide demand-side incentives for proactive care-seeking behavior, and eliminate the risk of perverse incentives created by supply-side cost-sharing,” the statement read.

As part of measures to beef up information management in the pandemic, the committee also called for intensified sensitisation and awareness creation on the part of the government.

“This will require the mobilisation of the entire communication and information infrastructure of the state, and a collective focus on a single purpose. Critical stakeholders in the private sector will also need to be engaged so as to ensure that a consistent and contextually appropriate message reaches every corner of this country in a timely manner.”

The NDC also called for uniformity in the management of information with respect to case management among others.

“The management of information related to the size of the outbreak itself, the details of the testing program, and the outcomes for patients must be consistent. This information is vital to reinforcing messages about the reality and risks of COVID-19 and to fill the information vacuum that supports the spread of inaccurate information,” the communique read.

In the area of community impact mitigation, the Covid-19 Advisory team suggested that the anxiety of residents in locked-down areas must be addressed to prevent a situation that could potentially “evolve into serious social unrest if ignored.”

It further disclosed that “the reports of dramatic price hikes must be addressed as an immediate step to protecting the poor from an extremely regressive public policy outcome, which may be accomplished by standardising prices of essential goods.”

While focusing on measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, the NDC, however, cautioned the government against losing sight of the resilience of the economy.

The committee acknowledged the risk that the pandemic posed to the economy but has a few suggestions to help put the sector on a good footing.

“The government’s current proposal to appropriate $590 million from the Heritage Fund as part of this funding plan is a non-starter. That money is an investment in the future of this country, and it cannot be touched at any cost,” it suggested.