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According priority to vital national issues!

According priority to vital national issues!

The news that some European countries and the U.S. are starting to ease COVID-19 lockdown restrictions as well the low number of confirmed cases reported daily in Ethiopia for successive days should not lull Ethiopians into a false sense of security. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other stakeholders are warning that prematurely lifting measures that were imposed to halt the spread of the coronavirus could spark a resurgence in infections. As there is no knowing what the cold weather front passing through Ethiopia may have in store in regards to accelerating the spread of the virus, it’s prudent to keep up vigilance. Disregarding models painting a grim picture for Africa can have disastrous consequences. Observing the precautionary measures recommended by health professionals and the restrictions imposed by the government undoubtedly helps to avert the havoc many have predicted. This is a matter of vital national importance requiring joint action.

Ethiopia’s health policy is primarily geared towards disease prevention. Firmly cognizant of the economic realities of the country one of the priority areas of the policy is the control of communicable diseases and epidemics. Though its health sector gets more attention relative to other sectors, the budget allocated for it is woefully low even by sub-Sahara Africa levels owing to resource constraints. The health infrastructure is still among the weakest in the world. And the majority of health professionals work in a difficult environment for low pay. In the face of these twin challenges, therefore, failure to exercise caution is liable to place a burden beyond the health system’s capacity and eventually break it. It’s a citizenship obligation Ethiopians need to realize that it’s absolutely important to support the hardworking health professionals of the country by heeding the advice they give. This is the least they can do to discharge their citizenship obligation.

If the government’s widely praised fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is to be sustained the efforts it exerted to beat it back need to be emulated on the economic front as well. Although no lockdown is currently in place in Ethiopia, the financial security of millions of compatriots, particularly those engaged in the gig economy and working in the private sector, has been jeopardized due to the deleterious impacts of the outbreak on the economy. While the raft of measures taken to protect the private sector from being wiped out may be commendable, it’s of the essence to ramp up this initiative and take other steps aimed at safeguarding the future of citizens whose income has dried up or plummeted precipitously. Moreover, the economic woes of the pandemic are certain to exact an unprecedented humanitarian toll. As such Ethiopians have no choice but to stand together in this hour of need and overcome together the catastrophe looming over the nation.

As we have said time and again transparency and accountability can become the hallmarks of government institutions insofar as they are staffed with a leadership and workforce capable of duly discharging the duties entrusted to them. With the exception of a handful of government organs most still operate in a manner belonging to a bygone area and are incapable of delivering the efficient services the times require. Since they suffer from the absence of a modern organizational set-up, an experienced and skillful human resource as well as technological infrastructure their capacity needs to be beefed up robustly. The source of the problem, namely the centralized system of administration where party cadres deploy personnel and allocate resources as they see fit without having regard to an organization’s needs, must be addressed immediately. Such institutions may very well hamper or even ruin the nationwide battle against the outbreak because they are inefficient, prone to corruption and lack the credibility essential to enlisting the wholehearted participation of the most crucial protagonist in the war—the public. Thar is why it’s paramount to make it a priority to reform them for this is a task of great national importance.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world the people of Ethiopia ought to show the same prudence they do during national emergencies by implementing precautionary measures until it blows over. The vital importance of these measures cannot be overstated because the failure of a single person to abide by them can cause the virus to spread exponentially. As we abide with some of them, including physical distancing and maintaining personal hygiene, it’s equally imperative to stand united and show compatriots requiring assistance that we are there for them in their hour of need. This said the motivation behind giving a helping hand must not be in expectation of something in return; it needs to be for altruistic reasons. Care should be taken lest showing an act of kindness is used to aggrandize oneself or creates dependency in the mind of the recipients. Ethiopians have a long history of sharing whatever they have both in good and bad times. It is incumbent on all of us to demonstrate such solidarity more than ever before now if we are to emerge relatively unscathed by the contagion.

The COVID-19 pandemic also brings opportunities with it, particularly in relation to the production of personal protective equipment and generation of IT-based solutions. From hand sanitizers to face masks, gloves, mechanical ventilators and other medical instruments innovative citizens can mass produce goods demanded by medical establishments and the general public. Needless to say the government, investors and banks have to make preparations to help them in terms of securing funding, market linkage and production facilities. The experience of countries considered to be global manufacturing prowess reveals that they started off with small-scale industries before turning into manufacturing hubs. Ethiopia’s history offers an object lesson in demonstrating that looking down on artisans like potters, metalsmiths and weavers only served to perpetuate poverty and backwardness. Now that such attitude has no place in contemporary society every effort ought to be made to provide entrepreneurs and innovators with an incentive package so that the nation comes out better off at the end of the pandemic. If there is anything the outbreak has taught Ethiopians it’s that priority should always be accorded to vital national issues.