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Activists call for expansion of COVID-19 action committee

Author: Priscah Akol, | Published: Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Jame Kolok. File Photo/ Okot Emmanuel/Eye Radio.

Members of the civil society forum say high-level taskforce on coronavirus should be expanded to include non-politicians.

Established last month, the team comprises mostly of politicians, including President Salva Kiir, First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar, national security chief, central bank governor and the minister of cabinet affairs.

The task force is tasked with adopting a statement of the President and conducting a risk assessment to decide whether the country adopts the recommendations of the Ministry of Health to initiate a total shutdown or devise a different approach while being mindful of the fact that South Sudan is a landlocked country.

It shall also ensure that quarantine centers are set up and fully equipped with medicines and medical personnel and in coordination with other health bodies including NGOs, development partners and security organs to ensure that citizens are informed of the COVID-19.

However, the South Sudan Civil Society Forum says there are multiple gaps in the response to the disease, which was first confirmed in Juba last Sunday.

This, they say is due to the fact that the high-level task force on COVID-19 is made of politicians.

“Involvement of civic groups, civil society, women, youth, religious leaders and other actors would help provide additional expertise that will enhance public health education and combat stereotype and hate speeches,” the Executive Director of Responsive Governance-Rajab Mohandis said on Wednesday.

“The high-level task force based in Juba has no well-resourced and functional state-level equivalence to implement its decisions.”

For his part, Jame Kolok, the executive director of the Foundation of Democracy and Accountable Governance says it is imperative to form a subcommittee at the state levels to monitor closed border points.

“They also need to recognize that there are other people out there that would have been part and parcel of the task force, in this case, the civil society is extremely very important,” the activist stated.

“Make sure that they quickly expertise the process of establishing equivalence of the task force at the state so they are able to monitor some of the borders and ensure that they have the necessary resources to provide the most needed information in the state,” Kolok added.

So far, there are two confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Sudan.

The global cases of COVID-19 have exceeded 1.4 million, with 82 thousand deaths and more than 300 thousand recovered.

The US recorded the most coronavirus deaths in a single day with more than 1,800 fatalities reported on Tuesday. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, it brought the total number of deaths there to nearly 13,000.

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