COVID-19 in Africa: Ghana’s youngest MCE strategy is commendable.

By Rahamatu-Lahi Zakaria

All over the world, the countries that have been able to slow the spread of the virus or have the lowest mortality rate are headed by women. Women leaders have demonstrated and proved to be at the helms of affairs and tackling the virus with pragmatic and decisive measures that are proven to be working for them.

Taiwan led by President Tsai Ing-wen with a population of 23 million people has recorded 500 cases with under 10 deaths. Remarkable right? She has an epidemiologist as her vice president, Chen Chen-Jen. Taiwan is among the few countries to implement travel restrictions and institute health checks at the earliest stage to mitigate the spread.

Another remarkable leader is Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark. In Europe, Denmark was among the first country to lockdown and shut its borders. Currently,  the country is starting to loosen certain lockdown restrictions after taken the necessary measures to slow the spread of the virus and also keep the economy going during the lockdown period.

One woman in Northern Region who is holding it down in her jurisdiction is the Municipal Chief Executive(MCE) for Sagnarigu, honorable Mariam Iddrisu. Ever since the pandemic was recorded in Ghana, she has been in the frontline educating, distribution of hand sanitizers, face marks and soup to the vulnerable in her Municipality, and also implementing government directives to ensure her municipality does not record a case or slow the spread of the virus.

Mariam Iddrisu was elected Mayor of Sagnarigu Municipality, in May 2017, and she is the youngest Mayor in Ghana. She is currently one of the Vice Presidents of the Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA-West Africa). Prior to being elected as a Mayor, she was a Public Health Practitioner working with the Ghana Health Services.

One of the groups of people who are supporting Mariam Iddrisu in her sensitization of the public is Refela Ghana, Northern region. Rafela is the network of locally elected women in Africa which she happens to be the vice president for West Africa and President for Ghana.

As a leader, Mariam Iddrisu marked the International Women’s in Tamale by launching the Northern region chapter which includes elected assembly women, young and vibrant women who are interested in politics.

This group has become vital to Mariam Iddrisu in the sensitization of the public on the need to keep personal hygiene to slow the spread of the virus. With the Help of  Rafela Ghana, they have gone from market to market, institution to institution, and community to community distributing items to the vulnerable.

Another platform she makes good use of in the fight against the virus is through her personal social media account and the traditional media.

Every day, Hon Mariam Iddrisu updates and educates her followers to ensure they follow the World Health Organisation protocols to mitigate the spread of the virus on her social media platforms.

Mariam Iddrisu has also gone to other traditional media outlets to reach out to people who are not on social media. The Sagnarigu Municipal Assembly has announced a compulsory 14-day quarantine of residents of the municipality returning from the coronavirus pandemic hit regions of Ghana. Hajia Mariam Iddrisu advised all communities and families in the area to find separate rooms for any of their relations returning home from the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions for a period of 14 days.


Mariam Iddrisu past record on WASH is proven to be effective in this period. Since assuming office, the MCE has embarked on building health institutions to cater to the health needs of her people. As of December last year, six were under construction and two were to be commissioned for use.

The First lady of the Republic also built and equipped a community under the Sagnarigu municipality with a chip compound. So far, the Mariam Iddrisu has designated certain health centers in the municipality as treatment centers and also putting measures to make some of the senior high schools under her jurisdiction an isolation centers if the need should arise.

There’s a saying, “Water is Life, Sanitation is Dignity, sanitation is an attitudinal problem, If care is not taken, the assembly will use all its common fund on sanitation, because our population is growing”

Hon Maraim Iddrisu

When it comes to sanitation, Mariam Iddrisu has been very vocal about the need to keep a clean environment. Last year December, in a panel discussion with fellow MCEs at the studios of Sanatu Zambang she vows to tackle sanitation in her municipality. For this reason, an effort were been made in the past.

Under her leadership, institutional toilet facilities were built in communities to fight ODF and also the provision of communal containers to dumping sites to mitigate littering of the environment.

In this Covid-19 period, Mariam Iddrisu has teamed up with Sama Sama, a local sanitation enterprise in the municipality to provide markets and other vantage point washing materials to observe constant washing of the hands.

With regard to feeding the vulnerable in this period, she has again worked with Khatar Charity in providing food items to the vulnerable in her municipality.

Well there is no work that goes without criticism. The member of Parliament for Sagnarigu, Honourable A.B. Fuseini has accused her of being partisan in her distribution of PPEs.

According to the MP, the PPEs that were given by the local government minister to be distributed by the assembly were given to the NPP parliamentary candidate(PC), Madam Felicia Tertey for the area to distribute. But both the MCE and the NPP PC for the area have denied such accusation.

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