Mr. Speaker, Ghana has exhibited commendable efforts in the fight against Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as it continues to have an enormous impact on our socio-economic activities. Leveraging on the power of a united force, leaders and citizens likewise have all assumed a level of responsibility in managing the pandemic to the best of our abilities.

As at May 20, 2020, the statistics showed a total of 6,096 Confirmed cases, out of which 1,773recovered, and an unfortunate death toll of 31. To bring this in perspective, some African countries like Cameroon with 3,529 cases and 140 deaths, and Nigeria with 6,401 cases and 192 deaths, gives credence our ability to manage the pandemic effectively.

Mr Speaker, the focus here is not on how our numbers are doing against other countries, but rather on what we are doing to make sure that more lives are not lost during this fight. It is on this premise that I make this statement, to encourage all efforts, and particularly the efforts that directly affect persons experiencing the difficulty of ill health due to COVID-19.

Mr Speaker, one of such important efforts is the development of effective local treatment, be it drugs, or other treatment methods that alleviate the conditions of sick persons and restore them to health. I have listened to the ordeal of a few recovered patients who needed special treatment and I gather that it is not an easy battle.

Mr. Speaker, since March this year, Ghana developed a roadmap for addressing the effects of the pandemic on our economic development. Government sourced funds and established the COVID-19 National Trust Fund which realized about $6 million by late April with support from various organizations and corporate bodies. The President, in consultation with various stakeholders, implemented a host of social intervention measures, which are not limited to; (i) the imposition of restrictions on movement, in addition to (ii) the ban on social gatherings that proved effective in combatting the spread of the virus. During the period of lockdown, we witnessed the frequent distribution of relief items and essential goods to our constituents across the nation.

A ¢1.2bn. Ghana cedisCoronavirus Alleviation Program was approved by this honourable House with the objective to (i) protect households and livelihoods, (ii) support micro, small, and medium-sized businesses and (iii) minimize job losses. In effect, an amount of ¢600 million Ghana cedis has been allocated as soft loans to be disbursed to Micro, Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (MSMEs), after which an additional ¢400 million Ghana cedis counterpart funding will be negotiated from banks to support SMEs, given their contribution of about 70% to Ghana’s GDP. These, among others, are commendable feats, however, direct inclusion of the aged in the social intervention measures was rather lacking especially in light of the fact that they are vulnerable to the direct effect of contracting the virus.

Mr. Speaker, following closely many developments particularly in the pursuit of a vaccine for Covid-19 in Ghana and around the world, opinions vary largely on how a roll out will take place in the event that the vaccines are available. In view of this, there is the need for us to remind ourselves of the importance of the roles of international organizations like the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in determining a clear path for a global response to end the pandemic.

Mr Speaker the Deputy Minister for Health honourable Dr Bernard Okoe Boye on Tuesday lauded the efforts of our research scientists at the various testing laboratories revealing that formerly, our sample testing capacity was at 1,500 per day on the average. According to the Hon. Minister, the figure currently stands at around 5,000 tests a day. Per my assessment of our performance, through our aggressive testing and contact tracing mechanisms, we have been able to arrest the exacerbation of symptoms of virtually all persons tested positive in the country through early detection. 

However, Mr. Speaker, it does not end there. We need to be mindful that this is not just a national issue but a global one as far as the discourse goes. As we make progress in managing our situation in Ghana, we need to look beyond the nation and extend our support to the international community. This could be through the sharing of information on research carried out on the virus as well as promoting our local treatment remedies that have helped stabilize mortality numbers.

Mr. Speaker, the case of Madagascar presents a good example of how we can support our local treatment practices with confidence in their ability to produce results. Developments in this regard are reflected in the readiness to partner with traditional medicine experts, as news reports have indicatedconcerning the W.H.O.’s recent meeting with traditional medicine experts over a week ago, resulting in the agreement to ensure clinical trials of all traditional medicines produced.

Mr Speaker, due to the heightened significance attached to recoveries for the global community, we expect nothing less than an ‘all hands on deck’ approach. This means that we need to empower local producers of both traditional and modern medicine, to work together in addressing the dynamic aspects of disease management.

It is important to assess policies that will bring together our traditional herbal medicine experts andvarious stakeholder institutions like the Ministry of Health and The Food and Drugs Authority among others, to play a role in developing and enhancing local treatment methods backed by scientific evidence.

Mr. Speaker this is also an opportunity to encourage our traditional medicine experts to work together with doctors and scientists in medicine for the purpose of providing more efficient treatment methods that will upsurge recoveries even further. In effect, we will eventually lighten the burden on healthcare services so that more efforts can be focused on securing an approved vaccine in the shortest possible time.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity given me.

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This statement was delivered by the Nsawam-Adoagyiri MP in Parliament on May 20, 200 as part of his contribution to finding a cure for the novel coronavirus pandemic