PRESIDENT, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, met with a wide cross-section of stakeholders, including the private sector, small political parties and the media to garner views on how the government’s response to COVID-19 can be more effective.
Also participating in the virtual discussion were regional officials, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mikiko Tanaka, representatives from the mining sector among others. Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony and PAHO/WHO Representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow, lent technical support to the discussions.
In his remarks, President Ali said he is responsible for “running point” on addressing the COVID-19 issue nationally and this charge must be supported by a wide cross-section of the Guyanese population. As such stakeholders will play a role and going forward more engagements such as today’s virtual discussion will be held.
“It has nothing to do with politics, it has nothing to do with a particular view or a government view, this has to be a national view and that is why I thought this approach is very important at this point.” President Ali said.
The Head of State noted that since assuming office, much has been happening in response to COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have had bilateral conversations with the Islamic Development Bank, I have had conversations with India and I know PAHO is also having conversations on our behalf concerning a possible vaccine and how we can be [placed] on an early list for that. We have also been having conversations with CARICOM,” the President outlined.
He also reminded the media operatives participating in the discussion of their crucial role, keeping the general populace informed. The goal, President Ali said, is to develop a national COVID-19 response strategy essentially geared at protecting the Guyanese people.
Among concerns raised by stakeholders was the country’s preparedness to deal with a large volume of potentially imported COVID-19 cases; schools (and the Ministry of Education’s) plan to roll out an education programme; properly equipping schools if children must return and provisions for frontline healthcare workers protecting them from being exposed.
The subject of public compliance and how this can determine the reopening of the country was also discussed.
Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, explained that while compliance is being advocated, it is the responsibility of the Guyanese people to play their part in ensuring that the spread of the virus is contained.
President Ali noted that a balance needs to be found as the country battles a pandemic, while considering the livelihoods of thousands of Guyanese.