Edward Boateng, Ghana’s ambassador to China, recently gave a written interview with China.org.cn about the COVID-19 epidemic. He indicated that the efforts that China has been taking to combat the virus will be remembered as admirable and unprecedented. Boateng also noted that the virus knows no age, race, or creed and people should demonstrate love and help each other. We produce the full text of the interview
China.org.cn: How do you think the world’s countries should collaborate in the battle against the COVID-19 epidemic as it spreads and becomes a common challenge for the international community?
Edward Boateng: Globalization has brought about collective responsibility and I believe that to fight and eradicate COVID-19, we have to channel that collective responsibility spirit. We are faced with the choice of mutually assured destruction or mutually assured survival and I know that leaders of the world are going to choose the latter.
Inter-governmental organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) need serious funding in the areas of science and medical research. This outbreak has brought to light certain deficiencies inherent in the international community with regards to the binding nature of directives and instructions from bodies like the WHO. Additionally, regional and sub-regional Centers for Disease Control should be strengthened and areas that lack such regional establishments should be helped to institutionalize one.
The international community cannot in any way at all downplay the effects of COVID-19 and the threat it poses to the normalcy of life. As opined by the WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “This coronavirus is presenting us with an unprecedented threat” and an “enemy against humanity.” This clearly gives us the indication that for the virus to be defeated, it will require the assistance of every nation, big or small, developed or developing to adhere to the various safety and health protocols.
To collectively fight this virus, I envisage the institutionalization of a global-sub-regional approach where we have the WHO at the apex of the pyramid with regional CDC’s and sub-regional CDC’s following and then national CDC’s. This pyramidal structure I believe will offer better coordination and help with the analysis of strands, genomes as well as patient resistance or otherwise to tests and other laboratory and medical research. The era of paranoia among nations must cease to allow for a better coordination. Issues of global security are issues for all and not a few. COVID-19 is a health security threat and the earlier we see it as such as an international community, the better for us all.
China.org.cn: China has kept the concept of humanity’s shared future in mind, released information about the COVID-19 virus in a timely manner, and shared its experiences related to prevention and control, diagnosis, and treatment since the outbreak emerged. What is your opinion of these kinds of efforts and contributions?
Edward Boateng: China’s efforts and measures amidst the outbreak of the coronavirus will go down in history as unprecedented and admirable. The experiences shared in the areas of diagnosis, prevention and control have gone a long way to reduce the spate of the spread. But for these shared experiences, I fear we would be seeing infected numbers in the millions.
Rational-choice decision making processes have helped China in the combat against COVID-19. The swiftness with which decisions were made in the aftermath of the outbreak as well as the use of big data in tracking down potential carriers of the virus was succinct. Citizens and foreign residents showed great discipline in adhering to the call for social distancing and personal hygiene.
In my view, China’s approach to the COVID-19 combat was more of mitigation than containment. The daily media briefings as well as volunteerism was what kept China alive in the midst of this scare. And one thing is crucial:media platforms were given to experts in the field and citizen education on the virus was carried out throughout the whole country.
What intrigues me up till now is the availability of food in stores even after almost seven weeks of zero to no production. This tells me that China is doing something right with their buffer stock. Effective monitoring of exit and entry points has also contributed significantly towards the reduction of cases here in China.
In achieving a community with a shared future for humanity, it is critically germane that we take into consideration all aspects of human life including health economics. The idea of a community with a shared future should not only be etched in economic development but in social, cultural and human development as well. What is the essence of a community with a shared future if half the world continue to get infected and killed by viruses?
China has shown us all that we can do better when it comes to global interconnectedness and I believe China would continue to stand by what they have demonstrated in this difficult time. This virus by all standards knows no age, race or creed and as such we must be each other’s keeper and demonstrate love rather than scoff and disdain at people.
The Chinese government’s efforts to reach out to the international community and offer their unconditional assistance and advice again show the leadership that is needed to combat this virus.
I must add however that the outbreak of this virus also presented China the opportunity to firmly roll out the linkage between counties, cities and provincial health administrations with that of the Central Government. The move by the Central Government to sanction those that in a way mismanaged the news of the outbreak in Wuhan and for that matter Hubei Province gives the indication of the government’s efforts to achieve greater collaboration between local governments and the Central Government.
A community with a shared future for humanity speaks to our ecological civilization and the common heritage of mankind. We cannot achieve any of these without sincere collaboration and concerted efforts from all at the international level.