WEST AFRICA COVID-19 FACT SHEET: HURIDAC ADVOCATES ROBUST STRUCTURAL RESPONSE TO SAVE LIVES IN COTE D’VOIRE

In line with Human Rights Advancement, Development and Advocacy Centre (HURIDAC)’s ongoing humanitarian sensitization exercise in the West African countries in the battle against the deadly novel coronavirus and its onslaught in the sub-region, the non-governmental organisation has release the Cote d’Ivoire’s edition of the COVID-19 Fact Sheet vis-à-vis recommendations for the francophone nation on challenging the impact of the pandemic in accordance to HURIDAC’s independent situation reports

The Human Rights Advancement and Development Centre (HURIDAC) is an
African-based regional Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), registered in
Nigeria.

Its mandate are to: (1) To promote, protect and ensure respect for human rights, democracy and development; (2) To build the capacity and knowledge base
of civil society, government institutions, oversight bodies and other agencies and
communities on human rights, development, democracy and conflict prevention;
and (3) To use the process of the rule of law to hold governments and their agents
accountable.

Signed by the group’s Executive Director, Ayodele Ameen, the newly released Fact-Sheet showcases the citizens’ participation, accountability and lack of discrimination in the fight against Covid-19. It cited three major success indicators identifies in areas such as the effective management of COVID-19, citizen compliance, and quality of health care system among other critical areas expatiated in the no hold bare Ivorian report.

In its latest Fact-Sheet, HURIDAC noted that despite the political impasse Cote d’Ivoire is facing, the troubled nation has recorded some appreciable success in its COVID-19 survey on account of her positive response to the outbreak of the virus among the West African countries, including the provision of the safety net and supports to small and medium enterprises which prevented the country from recessions, but no thanks to the already weakened healthcare systems that pose a serious threat to the nation.

While gave a clean bill to the series of legal reforms embarked by the country, HURIDAC as a human right body equally frowned at the human rights record of Cote d’Ivoire on excessive use of force on peaceful protesters, arrests and detention of rights defenders, journalists among others.
In its conclusion, HURIDAC thus recommends that institutions in Cote d’Ivoire need a robust structural response for its coronavirus pandemic situation that would not only save lives but also prevent and adequately manage future occurrences.


Likewise, the human rights body cited a critical sensitisation approach; it identified women as key societal strata that should be accorded the due opportunities to take part in all strategies for capacity development that will help curb the spread of the virus on account of their family home-keeping dispositions.


The Fact-Sheet details:
Background:
Côte d’Ivoire, a country along the South Coast of West Africa with Yamoussoukro as the political capital and the largest and economic city being Abidjan. The country has a population of about 26.5 million people, representing 0.34% of the global population. 51.3 % of the population live in urban centres. Life expectancy is 58.75 years, infant mortality of 54 per 1000 live births and under-five death is 78 per 1000 lives birth. Côte d’Ivoire is categorized as a low-middle-income-country (LMIC) of deplorable health-related systems with nutritional, communicable and non-communicable disease and maternal and child health-related disease as the leading causes of death and disability.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic had a conspicuous impact, slowing down the Ivorian economy, the prior economic gains, macroeconomic and economic policies helped the country to face the outbreak from a stronger position.

Inclusion to these, the government responded with a safety net and supports to small and medium enterprises which prevented the country from recessions, although the already weakened healthcare systems pose as a serious threat.

However, the legal protection of human rights was improved by the recent flood of legal reforms. However, there are concerns of human rights violations due to the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters, with the arbitrary arrests and detention of human right defenders, journalists and political activists ahead of the earlier scheduled 2020 general elections.

HURIDAC’s right-based method is Human Right and people centered, and it studies the citizens’ participation, accountability and lack of discrimination in the fight against Covid-19. Based on the report published by HURIDAC on the Human Rights Perspective of Covid-19, the report identified three major success indicators. The strategy is to examine how the Ivorian government handles the Covid-19 pandemic, based on the success indicators, bringing to spotlight the inputs, actions and implementations of effective management, quality of health systems and citizens compliances.

Effective Management of Covid-19

In Côte d’Ivoire, the first Covid-19 case was reported on March 11, 2020, with a total of 20,323 confirmed cases, 20,021 recoveries and 121 confirmed deaths as of 20th October 2020. The Ivorian government responded by identifying contact cases and introducing preventive measures, public assurances and awareness campaigns, different border control actions as well as the provision of free emergency phone lines.
The administration also declared a state of emergency within twelve (12) days after declaring its first confirmed case, closing lands and sea travels and imposed a nationwide curfew. Although the travel bans were postponed to 29th March, with movements of essential commodities and authorities3. However, these measures deprived citizens of the needed information via interaction.

Whereas traditional leaders, friends and social media were the dissemination channels, traditional conduits such as radios and televisions were also used as reinforcement to inform and educate citizens about the pandemic, although the remote areas are still less informed than urban centers. With the effect of the pandemic on the people, financial help was offered by several organizations to help curb its impacts. The Africa Development Bank (ADB) provided a €75 million loan to control the spread of Covid-19, build resilience to help the economy during and after the pandemic; whilst UNICEF helped the National Institutes of Public Hygiene with Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) items and Monitoring and Evaluation (M & E) tools.
With the help of the municipalities, communities were organized and they participated in the implementation of local development interventions, and rural and environmental management.

Socio-economic and humanitarian aids were provided to support businesses, economic growth and job creation; with the agricultural sector also being boosted, and social measures helping to take care of the electricity and water bills of the most vulnerable citizens. As the intermittent lockdown measures triggered price indices for food items, the government responded by establishing price limits that helped prevent extreme inflation.
Quality of Public Healthcare System
Côte d’Ivoire has 3-tiers of health care arrangements with disparities between urban and rural communities in terms of facilities, capacities and activities. There is limited government control over the production and supply of medicines as the healthcare systems are given limited priority, receiving about 5% of the general expenditures which is below the 15% goal set by the Abuja declaration.

Regardless it’s Lower-middle-income-country (LMIC) status, Côte d’Ivoire is behind regional member states and the averages of sub-Saharan and lower-income countries with respect to the indicators of Universal Health Care (UHC) vital and prevention services1.

However, for the Covid-19 pandemic, the central government launched an emergency health response plan of about 0.3% of the GDP. This was meant to equip intensive care units, care for infected, provide PPEs, strengthen surveillance and improve capacity of the health sector.
Citizens Compliance
During global pandemic such as Covid-19, both preventive and curative measures have the potential to undermine and interfere with the rights of individuals. It is therefore important to examine how the citizens responded to the measured implemented by states administration.

In Côte d’Ivoire, notwithstanding some dissatisfactions amongst citizens due to selective implementation of certain measures, citizens generally comply with social-distancing actions, including the suspension of schools, closing entertainment centers, wearing of face masks, hand washing and prohibition of public gathering among others.

However, these were not without challenges as a larger number of customers were observed in two of the city malls day after banning public gathering7 and those who violated social-distancing measures were eventually arrested by security forces and the entertainment centers closed; especially at the early stages of the declarations. Overall, there were intermittent lockdown measures which were followed by the easing of restrictions on May 21st 2020, and internal flights resumed in July as a reduction in new cases and the number of recoveries increased, though measures such as wearing of face mask and band on public gathering remained inforce3.

The Goal of the Analysis
The goal of this analysis is to highlight the human rights perspective of the government in the management of the pandemic and the prioritization of citizens’ rights to life and to affordable healthcare. The fact sheet helps to identify the gains of the Ivorian government and other concerned institutions, as well as to offer recommendations for improving performance and better service delivery to the populace.

Situation Overview
a. Confirmed Cases

Number of positive cases to increase from 179 in March to 20,323 at the 4th week in October. giving a total of 20,323 cases as of October 2020.

Figure 1.a: Number of Confirmed Cases in Percentage from 11th March till the 4th week in October 2020

Figure 1.b: Number of Confirmed Cases in Figures from 11th March till October 2020
The continues rise in Covid-19 cases and the sharp increase between March and April could be attributed to local transmissions, perpetuated by the late implementation of precautionary measures.

Also, over 400% increase, a spike in the number of cases was recorded in June as against previous months. This could be related to the alleged reports that emerged on the violations of the government proclaimed Covid-19 measures by highly influential citizens and other preferentially treated foreign nationals; an action that triggered public outrage and distrust at the initial stages of the pandemic.

c. Confirmed Deaths

Figure 2: Number of confirmed deaths from 11th March to October 2020

With no death in March and the first recorded death in April, there has been a gradual increase in recorded death till September and a rapid decline in October.
c. Confirmed Deaths and Recovery

Figure 3: Number of confirmed deaths and recovery from 11th March to October 2020

The recovery rate shows the rate at which citizens recuperate from the virus (Coronavirus). Following the parlance of human rights, the government should ensure that all measures are put in place to achieve a high rate of recovery. Sequel to this, the data shows a relatively high rate of recovery.

d. Survival Ratio

The survival ratio reveals the difference in ratio between the confirmed cases and deaths. It shows the chances of survival from the virus (Coronavirus) within the country’s data set. This excludes underlying health conditions. Prior to its steady increase, the country recorded a stable decline in the number of survivors between April, May and an exponential increase between the number of cases between May and June.

In April, the data showed that 1 death was recorded for every 91 cases. Relatively, the survival rate in Cote d’Ivoire has increased across the months.
Covid-19 Cote D’Ivoire Dashboard
Dashboard can be accessed at: http://huridac.org/cote-d-ivoire.htm

Covid-19 Cote’Ivoire Animation Video

The two minutes video on the fact sheet can be accessed at:
http://huridac.org/cote-d-ivoire.html

Recommendations.

• There is a need for the government and other concerned institutions to have a well-structured pandemic response strategy that would not only save lives but also prevent and properly manage future occurrences.

• The need for policies and action plans that ensure non-discriminatory implementation of national agenda and strategies should be prioritized and enacted.

• The Ivorian authorities need a practical policy review on the overall healthcare systems, increase budget allocation for health sector and prioritize control over the production and supply of drugs and medicines.

• Implementing a result-based monitoring and evaluation systems for the current and future interventions is a needed management and accountability tool.
This could also mean to have tools such as web-based GIS to track activities in remote areas of the country.

• Reengaging and reforming the security and entire governance structure will help resolve issues of arbitrary arrests and detentions, fostering human rights for political and human right activists and the entire Ivorian populace.

• Although pandemic such as Covid-19 requires emergency responses, it is prudent to profile the players in informal sectors, develop strategies that increase productivities and provide social insurance for informal sector workers.

• The Ivorian citizens should be properly sensitized on all areas of the virus, as this will keep them informed, and help change their behavioural pattern toward the virus, also increasing participation in reducing the spread of the virus.

• Attention should be given to women and children as a large number of patient’s dependent on the healthcare system are the women and children. Women should also be given the opportunity to participate in all strategies developed to curb the spread of the virus(Coronavirus).

The government should make Covid-19 tests free for citizens and if impossible, a
subsidized fee should be paid, as this will foster citizens participation by encouraging testing.
The regional office of HURIDAC is located in Lagos (Nigeria) while its
Nigeria and Gambia offices are located in Abuja (Nigeria) and Banjul Respectively.

Kindly check our website (www.huridac.org).

Shola Akingboye
For: HURIDAC
08138323101
12th November, 2020

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