Intergovernmental Authority on Development member states have agreed to forge a joint approach to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.
The Heads of State of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, Somalia and South Sudan held a videoconference on Monday, where they discussed the challenges the region is facing in managing the global pandemic.
“Together with their excellencies: Uhuru Kenyatta, Abiy Ahmed Ali, Ismail Omar Guelleh, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Somalia), Salva Kiir Mayadirt who was represented by Riek Machar, and Abdalla Hamdok, we converged for the virtual summit of the IGAD Secretariat this morning,” President Yoweri Museveni tweeted.
The leaders tasked the IGAD Secretariat to urgently formulate a regional response to Covid-19 that adopts a whole-of-government approach.
They also agreed to intensify information sharing including tracking of infected persons. In addition, they agreed to direct their relevant agencies to enhance cooperation in border control and management, with a view of ensuring safety along common borders and guarantee the movement of cargo.
“Individually we are not well prepared to overcome the consequences of the virus on our health systems and the long term impact on our economies. Our burgeoning industries, like tourism, are being impacted already,” Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said.
He farther noted that the economic progress that each of the countries has made is at risk and the only way states can overcome the threat is through collective leadership and coordinated responses.
“I reiterated that we need to remain hopeful and consciously work together,” Abiy said.
IGAD Executive Secretary Dr Workneh Gebeyehu said the leaders also agreed to establish an emergency fund and called on the international community for a globally coordinated approach.
President Museveni briefed his colleagues on the measures Uganda has taken to avert the spread of Covid-19.
Museveni said movement of cargo across the region should be allowed to proceed, albeit under Standard Operating Procedures.
“I urged that all countries continue to facilitate the sectors of industry and agriculture such that we do not run out of food or essentials,” Museveni said.