Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

COVID-19: The journey, the impact and the quest to save humanity

24.03.2020
Article from AFRIC Editorial
When the first reports of the corona virus started to come out of China, global health officials and African citizens were very worried about what would happen if the virus started spreading in Africa, where many health systems are already struggling and in sorrowful state. The novel Corona virus has been slow to take root in Sub-Saharan Africa, but after 27 February 2020 the narrative gradually changed after the region experienced its first case in Nigeria. The epidemic continues to disrupt life across the world, almost everything has come to a halt, business, entertainment, social life, religious life The virus has brought the world close to a standstill and panic is taking center stage right from the government level to the poor peasant Africans in the remote of places.

The rate of the spread is lower in Africa as compared to Europe, Asia and parts of America, where lockdowns are in place. However, most African countries will likely get to that stage sooner than we think. Due to the consistent increase in the number of cases. Currently, the continent has recorded more than 1,000 cases spanning from 40 countries out of 54.  The virus has now been detected in 185 countries globally, with more than 384 453 infected and more than 16 500 confirmed deaths. It is no news that the region might experience an explode of consequences soon. Nevertheless, three questions keep rising in the whole equation. How prepared is Africa to contain the virus, how is Africa going to swiftly treat identified cases and how Africa is going to deal with the aftermath and the effect of the pandemic on the economy.

Although the continent has experienced other pandemics, including the 2014 Ebola crisis, which resulted in 28,600 cases and claimed 11,325 lives, HIV/AIDS also claimed 675,000 lives globally and Malaria a dangerous disease caused by infected females Anopheles mosquitoes with children being the most vulnerable. In 2018, WHO recorded 228 million cases of malaria worldwide with the death toll at 405,000. Although these pandemics might have hit the continent hard, it is not as devastating as COVID-19. Because both Malaria and HIV/AIDS are highly preventable, and Malaria is curable. Whereas the current pandemic the human race is clueless about a cure and effective prevention methods

CONTAINING THE SPREAD OF COVID-19

The numbers of cases keep soaring, panic and anxiety caused by fake news keep rising too. But, plans and structures in local health systems still look the same, it is a bit unclear, the measures put it in place in the health sector to fight the virus as the continent is characterized by relatively fragile health care systems. According to Rand Corporation, a US think-tank, they revealed that 25 countries globally will be most vulnerable in the case of an infectious outbreak. 22 out of the 25 countries are Africa countries.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa warned Governments across the region to act tremendously fast to ratchet up every measure and actions being put in place. He further mentioned the actions done now in the early stages is what will determine the fate of African people. And it will be ideal to prepare for the worst by preparing intensively now. 

The WHO revealed the limited Intensive care unit (ICU) beds available across the region and the statistics are devastating. beds and providing specialized medical training for infrastructure at regional hospitals. Limited ICU beds according to the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights. Malawi can account for just 25 ICU beds in public hospitals for a 17 million populace. In South Sudan, a country overwhelmed by five- year civil war has just 24 isolation beds. The scenario of the African health system in this dangerous time makes the pandemic scariest. The 2014 Ebola crisis, which resulted in 28,600 cases and claimed 11,325 lives exposed how inadequate our health system is, the health system was improved however there are still gaps in the system. 

Although no country can say they are 100% prepared, necessary measures must be placed. Even developed and powerful nations with better measures, equipment, etc. are on their knees at the mercy of the virus. It will be highly significant for African Governments to channel resources into community awareness and public education on best practice promoting social distancing, citizens need to understand what exactly social distancing means, good hygiene, washing of hands under running water. Rwanda has set a good example of having portable sinks in public places bus stations and marketplaces to encourage the practice as well as discouraging large public gathering. Leaders; religious leaders serve as ambassadors to push a better hygiene message to communities. If the practice of prevention is understood, the spread can reduce.

SWIFTLY TREATING IDENTIFIED CASES

Africa’s introduction to the virus was through imported cases and in a matter of days the cases increased. Critical measures are put in place to help these victims recover and not infect others with it. Some of these measures should include effective call centers with designated personnel attending to calls from infected persons. Education on self-quarantine and what actions to take when you discover you are positive. Refurnish labs center with equipment to carry out blood tests. Isolation centers and clinical protective items should be expanded and provided. Necessary drugs including herbal medicines should be provided. Health personnel and front lines standing at the war-front of the pandemic should have adequate insurance covering for their own health.

THE AFTERMATH AND EFFECT OF THE ECONOMY AFTER THE PANDEMIC

Africa began the new decade with a positive economic outlook, the rolling of The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which would have yielded over $3 trillion in total GDP and increase intra-African trade by 52% by the close of 2022. The agreement would have been one of the region’s saving grace to the land of prosperity however other priorities have taken place which is COVID-19 almost in all African countries. 

The pandemic has taken a huge toll on the economic system in several countries including Africa. The significant negative impact on the financial markets, trade, aviation, hospitality and tourism. All industries are disrupted has been heavily hit by COVID-19 as many countries have introduced travel bans and restrictions enhancing social distancing. The industry contributes over 10% of São Tomé and Príncipe, Cape Verde, and Seychelles’ GDP, while employment comprises more than 20% of their total employment.

Tourism employs more than millions of people in Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Nigeria while providing over 5% in Gambia, Morocco, Mauritius, Tunisia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Egypt, and Rwanda’s GDP. The sector is critical to African development. The last economic shock in the tourism sector experienced by the region was the 2008 financial crisis and the 2014 commodity price shock. The continent lost $7.2 billion. With this pandemic, the region is bound to lose more than the stated figure. Africa experienced a huge decline in its GDP growth during the 2014 drop oil prices.
Even more severe recession in Cameroon which has been in the grip of a separatist war for three years ,but whose cultural loss is the strongest, with the death today of one of these world music legend Manu Dibango victim of the corona virus.

While Nigeria is battling with US dollar shortage due to the oil price devaluation. Economists have highlighted the Naira is likely to depreciate by 10% by the end of June, and the probability of other African countries experiencing such an ordeal is high. analysed by putting in place measures and ideas to buffer the economies until the virus disappears. And this pandemic should serve as a call for oneness amongst nations with a common goal to be well equipped and prepared for future pandemics.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

To view full news and leave comments you must be logged in. Please join the community