Banjul, 10th August 2020: Civil society organisations, trade unions and private sector associations on Friday 7th August 2020 convened a virtual meeting to discuss the fast spreading COVID- 19 infections in the country.
The meeting noted with concern that the rate at which the pandemic is spreading poses present and clear danger to the very existence of the Gambia for which there is urgent need for all citizens, associations and all stakeholders to recommit themselves to combating the virus.
The meeting reviewed the state of affairs of the Government's response to the pandemic and agreed that a major paradigm shift is needed towards a comprehensive National COVID 19 response. Furthermore, the meeting recognised that while huge amounts of financial resources and materials were provided to the Government from both local and international sources, there still remain huge gaps in the delivery of health services and the effective functioning of testing, treatment and quarantine centres. Generally non-state actors observed systemic challenges inherent with the Government response. This has raised immense concern that if there is no urgent engagement with the Government and the National Assembly among other stakeholders, The Gambia runs the risk of a major catastrophe.
In light of these concerns the meeting constituted a five-person taskforce to engage the Minister of Health, Dr Amadou Lamin Samateh and the COVID 19 Response Coordinator Yaya Sanyang. The purpose of the meeting is for non-state actors to receive firsthand information from the primary sources about the state of affairs of their interventions in terms of progress and challenges. We hope with this meeting, non-state actors will be able to understand the particular circumstances of the situation and therefore identify specific issues and concerns upon which we could act to address them in collaboration with other stakeholders. The meeting with health officials will therefore determine the next steps to be taken.
The non-state actors have noted their resolve to continue this engagement in order to ensure that the Gambia Government provides adequate leadership and effective management of the response to this pandemic. For that matter, we wish to take all necessary steps within our limitations to ensure that there is efficiency and effective coordination as well as transparency and accountability in the fight against COVID 19.