Her Excellences from the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) yesterday called for the intensification of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the corona virus amid a spike in the number of cases in Africa.
They echoed the sentiments during an OAFLAD high level webinar held on Tuesday via the virtual Zoom platform, under the theme “The Health and socioeconomic impacts of Covid-19 on achieving universal health coverage”.
First Ladies from OAFLAD member States including Botswana, Angola, Niger, Namibia and DRC participated in the webinar and took turns to share their respective countries’ experiences on the impact of Covid-19, mitigation measures and future outlook in terms of dealing with the pandemic.
Zimbabwe’s Lady and Ambassador for Health, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, who is also OAFLAD Vice President, expressed concern over the rise in cases in the country’s urban centres and highlighted the need for citizens to adhere and abide by the safety and preventive measures set out by health experts.
“A rise in local transmission of coronavirus has been recorded, especially in the urban cities. I am still continuing and intensifying my educational and information sharing activities on Covid-19 to the urban communities.
“Social distancing rules and intensified hygiene measures including the wearing of masks have been imposed in response to covid-19.
“These restrictions are by no means easy to accept or practise as these behaviours are deeply entrenched in our social and cultural practices as a people,” said Amai Mnangagwa.
Botswana First Lady, Mrs Neo Jane Masisi, called on her counterparts on the need to ensure the protection of the rights of women and girls during lockdowns.
“As First Ladies, there is need for us to speak with one voice and end gender based violence.
“As we battle this pandemic, we should draw lessons from previous pandemics like HIV and Ebola. Women and girls must be part of every socio-economic plan.
“A lot still need to be done to end Gender Based Violence (GBV) and we have to use the Performance Planning Reports (PPR) approach,” said Mrs Masisi.
The First Ladies concurred that Covid-19 had adversely affected economies, access to health care services due to restriction and increased hunger and poverty level, among other things.
In terms of the future outlook, there was a general agreement that countries need to expand testing, intensify contract tracing and mobilise communities for mass testing through community health workers.
While African Governments have come up with stimulus packages to rescue their economies, analyst have noted the need for social safety nets through policy and continued support families and individuals who have been affected by the pandemic.