Citizens’ participation in decision making and fight against COVID-19

The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah yesterday extended an invitation to the citizenry to participate in a national conversation on how to get life back to normal while combating the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

 At a news conference in Accra yesterday, he invited the public to share its views on how to ease the current restrictions while preventing further infection and spread of the virus as it lingers on.

 “We invite the nation for a conversation on what it takes to get life back to normal looking at the fact that there is no vaccine and we do not know exactly when one will be validated and we may have to learn to live with.

“The world is realising that measures like lockdowns and restrictions cannot continue in perpetuity and we will have to learn to live the new normal,” he said.

 According to the Minister, consultations had begun on the issue but government would need a broader view to make a firm decision that would inure to the benefit of all and at the same time not disrupt gains made in the fight against the disease.

The Ghanaian Times finds the invitation extended to the public as very important and appropriate particularly at a time that the public is divided in opinion on whether restrictions should be eased or not.

Indeed, the nation has not let its guard down since the fight against the pandemic began in March this year. Although a partial lockdown imposed earlier has been lifted, public gatherings are still banned, schools and borders remain closed and social distancing measures continue until May 31, 2020.

As President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said when he addressed the nation at the beginning of the fight against the pandemic, Ghana has been nimble and adapted to the changing situations.

“We will tailor our solutions to our unique social, economic and cultural conditions. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but I pledge to you that government will do whatever is required, in our particular circumstances, to safeguard the lives of our people, and keep our economy going,” he said. 

While these measures are expected to help contain the disease and to protect the health as well as ensure public safety, many have to bear the brunt of the disease leading to agitations for the restrictions to be eased and schools, churches as well as drinking spots among others to be allowed to re-open.

While some think that the country is not out of the woods yet and that it would be risky to ease the restrictions and open schools and churches for example, others are pushing for them to be re-opened for life to return to normal while others remain indifferent.

We are unable to join the debate and argue on the merit and demerit of the arguments but we are fully in support of the invitation thrown to the public to join in the conversation to enable government to arrive at a decision that is acceptable to all.

We are hopeful that in the next few days, members of groups affected by the pandemic and individuals would join the conversation and offer useful suggestions on the way forward.

But more importantly, it would be in the national interest for everyone to participate in the national conversation for their voices to be heard in order to provide the government with enough information that would allow it to take a firm decision on easing the restriction so that we can go back to our normal life.

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