The world community is preoccupied not only with how to repel the deadly coronavirus pandemic which has caused considerate damage to human life and nations’ economies, but also with new logic and tactics in how to embrace and cope with what is called the new normal. This time, the Continent of Africa does not wish to remain left out. Leaders and civil society and foreign partners are steadily poised to explore wisdom of the best minds on the Continent and beyond so that by the time the pandemic’s gloom gives way to some gleam of sanity, the social, cultural and political dynamics are set right to keep the people on even plane with others around the world. Yet again, Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (EJS) is tipped and craved to offer her counsel and wisdom on what can be done. Later today, she’s joining a panel of experts to share her thoughts at the UNDP-sponsored Hekima Series on the theme, “Building a Strong Africa After COVID-19”. The Analyst reports.
The United Nations Development Program, thinking ahead to see and prepare Africa cope with looming “new normal” that would dawn globally in the aftermath of the advent of COVID-19 is marshalling experts’ insights on how to position Africa and its backward people. It has been holding series of conversations around the subject and at today’s round, it has sought former Liberia’s President and Africa’s first democratically elected female to join the conversation.
The Hekima Series will be held today on the theme, “Building a Strong Africa after COVID-19.
The Liberian former president, and WHO Goodwill Ambassador will be joining other distinguished panelists that include Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, and Ahunna Ezickonwa, Director, UNDP Africa.
Since she left the Liberian presidency, and particularly during the last four months of coronavirus pandemic, Madam Sirleaf, a Nobel Laureate, has been a source of counsel for a number of regional, continental and intercontinental organizations on complex issues facing humanity.
It was under her stewardship as President of Liberia that the deadly Ebola Disease raged hell in West Africa, sending scientists across the global in disarray over how to contain the pandemic. The estimates for infection and fatalities were staggering, some predicting that hundreds and thousands of Liberians and West Africans would fall before the pandemic ended its rage. But with sense, wisdom, leadership and cooperation, Liberia and its neighbors decisively repelled and defeated Ebola, and doomsayers wondered why.
The former Liberian President on the onset of the COVID-19 in Liberia, told her country people that “It is time to go to work again to beat this new enemy. There are few things which I believe Government and citizens can do together. First, as much as possible stay home and stay out of public gatherings, keep the children who are out of schools doing other things such as readings and playing games at home. She also cautioned health authorities receiving support from Government to try harder to increase the testing of citizens and citizens must act in their own interest to get tested.”
She added: “Protect and respect doctors, nurses, and health care workers who are making great sacrifices to save us. We owe much to them and should thank them,” the former President said. “Manage the money, one of our biggest failure as a nation, our economy will feel the effect and will need all public resource account for economic recovery.”
In an article she wrote in the prestigious Time Magazine, Madam Sirleaf called for concerted actions of nations to defeat the coronavirus and prepare for post-pandemic recovery.
“When epidemics strike, fear, anxiety and despair can be agonizing. But as we learned during Liberia’s Ebola epidemic, we are not defined by the conditions we face, no matter how hopeless they seem – we are defined by how we respond to them. Decisive political leadership and global cooperation – along with every single one of us playing our part – will determine if we win the war against this invisible enemy.”
In the March 19, 2020 Time article, Madam Sirleaf and Dr. Raj Panjabi, CEO of the Last Mile Health and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School wrote further: “The HYPERLINK “https://time.com/tag/covid-19/” COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge. While countries with advanced healthcare systems struggle in the fight against COVID-19, its effects on countries with weaker health systems, including Liberia and other parts of Africa where cases are growing, will be significant. As a former President and a physician from Liberia, we were directly engaged in the country’s Ebola epidemic in 2014-16. The epidemic claimed the lives of over 11,000 people and resulted in massive economic losses across West Africa. Ebola taught us painful but valuable lessons. Today, as our fellow political and healthcare leaders across the world confront COVID-19, we share those lessons and five recommendations to strengthen the response.”
Even recently, the former Liberian leader and a couple of world leaders co-signed a letter written by UK former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the G20 Nations on their thoughts of master plan regarding COVID-19.
In that letter, the eminent people, including Madam Sirleaf, raised a powerful alarm about the urgency to do something selfless and ingenious to circumvent the gloom, warning that without further G20 action, a pandemic-induced recession will only deepen to hurt the world’s poorest and most marginalized people.
The eminent persons called on G20 leaders to hold a second meeting to discuss measures to advance the implementation of the G20 Action Plan, and agree to a more strongly coordinated global response to the health, economic, and social emergencies we face.