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CSOs give Barrow ultimatum to address nation

Aug 10, 2020, 12:24 PM | Article By: Arfang M.S. Camara

A group of civil society organisations and frontline workers has asked President Adama Barrow to address Gambians on the state of the nation within 72 hours amid covid-19 crisis that has gripped the nation.

 They also laid down a 10-point demand for the president over the coronavirus crisis.

This request was made by concerned groups on Saturday in a letter written to the Gambian leader, requesting for urgent action to be taken in combating the pandemic.

They were: Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA), Gambia Participates, Gambia Conference of Reforms and Democracy (GAMCORD), the Gambia Bar Restaurant and Night Club Association (G-BRANA), Right to Know (R2K) Gambia, the Association of Non-Governmental Organisations in the Gambia (TANGO), Team Gom Sa Borpa and frontline workers. In a letter to President Barrow on Saturday, they expressed their disappointment over the manner the president is handling the coronavirus crisis.

These groups demanded that the Gambian leader tell the nation what next step the government would be taking in dealing with the pandemic.

“We urge you to face the nation, and speak to us, within the next 72 hours, as to the next steps to be taken by your government in dealing with this stage of the pandemic, as well as steps being taken to address our urgent requests below. It is inappropriate and unacceptable to leave such a responsibility of steering such a response to your spokespersons.”

“We request a report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as to why he handed over the PPEs to the office of the first lady and what she did with the PPEs, and evidence of who she gave these PPEs to, as well as who involved.”

“We request a full medical package to be accorded to frontline workers, and any healthcare worker that contracts COVID-19 while in the line of duty.”

“There should be basic medication available at treatment facilities for front line workers and a doctor should be attached to these facilities to attend to the health needs of healthcare workers while under treatment. A doctor should review each healthcare worker under treatment at least every two or three days and be provided with the required medication where necessary.”

“Provision of daily allowance for frontline health workers as well as equal payment for frontline workers be effected immediately.”

“The ministry should have a distinct criterion of levels of risk, and categories of frontline workers in its workforce.”

“The ministry should communicate such criteria and categories to the frontline workers by making such criteria public.”

“The ministry needs to rethink its modus operandi, and adopt best practices, to ensure optimal, effective and efficient deployment of the talent, abilities and experiences of health workers.”

“We request the daily allowance of a minimum of D750 be paid to us.

“The Ministry of Health needs to provide adequate accommodation to frontline responders, especially those that are exposed to infected patients.”

According to the groups, the country has now been visited by the inevitable surge of the covid-19 pandemic which surpassed the 600 mark of active cases.

“The death toll has risen exponentially. The economy has taken a battering, as the unemployment rate in the seasonal sectors, like the hospitality industry, and other mainstream sectors like SMEs have been shaken to the core. Lives and livelihoods have been destroyed, as poverty rates have spiraled out of control.”

They finally gave the government seven days from the date of their letter to respond to their demands, adding that failing which they shall explore other legal and necessary means to have these demands met.

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