Former Minister for Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, has urged the government to deepen the involvement of community leaders in ongoing efforts to defeat coronavirus in Ghana.

According to him, chiefs, assembly members and opinion leaders can play a critical role in getting the larger population to rally behind government’s programmes aimed at tackling the disease.

Speaking on the Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Monday, Dr Omane Boamah said the government appears to have failed in bringing community leaders onboard its anti-Covid-19 strategy, the reason a food distribution exercise to the underprivileged during the lockdown period failed to achieve its objectives.

In the early part of April, the government embarked on an exercise to provide food for underprivileged persons in parts of the country that are under lockdown.

The package was targeted at some 400,000 individuals and homes in the affected areas of the restrictions imposed by President Nana Akufo-Addo in his bid to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, a few days into the exercise, the government was accused of distributing the food and other relief items on a partisan basis – choosing members of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) over non-members. Government has since denied that claim.

Commenting generally on the government’s handling of the Covid-19 situation on the Super Morning Show, Dr Omane Boamah said the controversy that the food distribution exercise was embroiled in could have been easily prevented had community leaders been brought on board.

“Where I think government has not done too well is in terms of brining on board community leaders, assemblymen and women to assist..And perhaps we lost an opportunity during the distribution of food and relief items during the lockdown phase.

“If they had been included, in the distribution of food and all, they may have also gathered a lot more social capital within the community that ‘even when we were hungry, it was this chief, this assemblymen who together with the government brought us food so let’s listen to him, if he says that we should subject ourselves to the team that is coming round to test us’,” he told host of the Super Morning Show, Kojo Yankson.

He said with community spread setting in, the government would have to deepen its engagement with community leaders to ensure that residents in a given area have confidence in contacting tracing and testing efforts.