As the US and Europe struggle to contain the covid19, there are speculations on how the novel virus may play out in Africa. According to the World health organization, Africa could be the next Covid19 epicenter. This has raised questions on how prepared the continent is.
Looking at the predictions the World Health Organization had done on the US before the virus infections grew exponentially, the organization has predicted that the United States could be the next epicenter for Covid19. A Month Later, the virus spread like bushfire and now the Western countries are dealing with reality.
What does this mean to Africa? Should the continent prepare for the worst? Could Africa be the next covid19 epicenter?
Well let’s break this down for you
Since the first coronavirus case was reported in Africa, its now two months and 4 days and the number of this infectious disease continues to grow day after day.
There have been stories about Africa’s resistance to the virus, but according to statistics, out of the 54 African countries, 53 of them have reported Covid-19 cases. As of today, the number of cases reported so far stands at 18,461, 4,351 recoveries, and 969 deaths.
In response, African countries have embraced the European and United States’ move to instituting social distancing, lockdowns, frequent hand washing, and more, a move that has impacted serious African traditions such as practices like handshakes, lavish weddings, and other rituals.
Countries like Ghana, for example, well known for its lavish and prolong funeral ceremonies, have instituted bans.
Yet for some West African countries like Nigeria and Ghana, Covid-19 is an wound upon existing injury as they still deal with deadly diseases like Lassa fever and Ebola in certain parts of the regions. With the weakened health system in Africa, these countries may get overwhelmed by these outbreaks if stronger measures are not put in place to mitigate the pandemic.
Hand-washing: How effective it is to reduce spreading in Africa?
According to science, and common sense too, hand-washing is indeed is an effective way of curbing the spread of Covid-19. However, most African leaders that preach the gospel of strict hand washing appear hypocritical knowing that many regions and hundred thousands of homes lack access to running water.
Worse still, the World Health Organization estimates that 45% of Africa’s population lives hand to mouth with a daily income of less than US$1. People must head out to work and provide means of basic survival for their families. Hence, extreme poverty and deprivation do not go hand-in-hand with the hypocritical measures of social distancing and hand-washing put in place by the African leaders who live in lavish estates.
What does this imply?
If almost half of the continent’s population can’t manage to cater for the basic needs, how will the same population afford to bring food in the table with the instituted lockdowns? How will they afford to buy a hand-sanitizer (if China supplies any) and pay for water bills (if any even runs in their backyard)?
In addition, it is a fact that over 570 million people in sub-Saharan Africa dwell in slums which means that social distancing is impractical.
Though the continent doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed by the covid19 yet, it is clear that it remains most vulnerable in the fight against Covid-19. African countries need a real solution before the continent becomes the next Covid-19 epicenter.
As of April 17, 2020, only 16 African countries have benefited from the World Bank Fast Track Financial support for Covid-19 preparedness and emergency response.
Some countries have declared lockdown. For example, South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda are lockdown-response confirmed. Some countries like Kenya, however, are yet to achieve a complete lockdown. Kenya, for sure, is not winning the fight against this novel virus. The rates of infections are still going high.
Even though the continent is adopting what Europe and the US are doing, it does not appear as effective in winning the fight against the pandemic. This is where customization comes in. Africa needs to explore ways in which the foreign strategies is adapting needs to be tailored to meet the reality of its system and societies. The number of reported cases seems to be low compared to the Western countries, but it’s socio-economic and political reality foretells that its current approach does not carry any viable or sustained approach in fighting and winning against Covid-19 long-term.
Before the continent becomes the next epicenter for Covid-19, African countries should implement owned solutions to help contain the pandemic.
What’s your take on this? What do you think Africa should do to fight against Covid-19? How might the continent use its resources to combat the spread of this disease? Share your comments below.