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In a bid to curtail the spread of coronavirus and cushion its effects on the economy, the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday pledged 15 per cent of its annual budget to healthcare sectors in member states.

This decision was one among others that serves to help in the fight against COVID-19, an official said.

An official said the Heads of States also put into consideration the re-opening of borders to permit the transportation of medical supplies, equipment, and personnel to help fight the pandemic.

In an online press briefing, the president of the commission, Jean-Claude Brou, said the commission is working towards forming stronger bonds between member countries.

He said “this specific issue was discussed by the Heads of States and what they decided is that there should be stronger and closer co-operation between the local research institutes in our Member Countries in terms of medical work and even see if at the national levels for medicines and vaccines.

“This is something we are going to do with health agencies, you know we have reference laboratories in various countries in ECOWAS so we are going to work together with them to push because we know that some of them are already doing the work and not wait for Western countries for a solution,” he added.

Debts

Concerning debts owed by member countries, the commission agreed to support African Union’s plan to negotiate with partners for debt cancellation.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: PDP reacts to Buhari’s ECOWAS appointment

This, the official said, is part of ECOWAS’ bid to ensure “economic sustainability and recoveries for member-states through and beyond the coronavirus pandemic.”

During an earlier meeting, President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, was appointed as ‘COVID-19 response champion’.

His duty will be to coordinate the COVID-19 response and eradication process in the West African region.

“To ensure a high-level coordination of all the regional efforts to contain the pandemic, the Summit appoints H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Champion to coordinate the COVID-19 response and eradication process,” the conference announced in its communique.”

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