Corona Virus – The African Perspective

Over the past few weeks, African governments have been holding on tight and asking themselves hard questions concerning the effects of the spread of the virus into Africa. The Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that the worry was not on the ability of China to manage the virus but effects on the countries with poor health systems. Today African Governments are forced to look at the decisions they have made previously in addressing public service offering whereas citizens are getting comfort in having the same health facility at their disposal as the Government Officials. African Political Leaders have been over the past travelling to Malaysia, China, India, and other countries to get special medical assistance and now that the global lockdown is active, they get to face the music with exposure to the same quality health infrastructure as their citizens.

As of Monday 16 March 2020 the countries most affected in Africa with Covid-19 include Egypt with 126 confirmed cases,2 deaths, South Africa with 61 infected, no deaths, Algeria with 48 infected,4 deaths and among the lowest infected countries there are Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Sudan, Chad, Somalia and Others with zero cases.

        The Corona Belt Cases recorded and Severity                   The Dominant Flight Routes Network

From the African perspective countries with the greatest connectivity routes wise and passenger compliment in Africa is Cairo (Egypt) and OR Tambo (South Africa) which make 1st and 2ND most affected countries in Africa. Do these figures explain severity according to infrastructure and level of development? The question may not be easy to answer but today the need to contain and reduce the spread remains a top priority as we do not know the severity of the African context with regards to the strength of our economies, health services, and infrastructure.

The effects of the outbreak are undoubtedly devastating to Africa more than anywhere else in the World as Africa is a net importer and relies on Imports from China, India, Europe, and America. With the largest sectors dominated by small scale businesses affected by the inability to procure raw materials and markets outside Africa due to the imposed lockdown, Africa’s vulnerability remains immense and beyond measure. The recent developments that have highlighted that the virus can be passed on before symptoms can be detected are nothing to undermine. Only a handful of countries have the ability and facilities to test for the Coronavirus in labs and the World Health Organization hopes that the number may reach half by month-end.

The state of health facilities Is a mere reflection of the effects that are yet to come. In 2016 the top 5 killers in the world according to the World Health Organisation were:

Rank Top 5 causes of Death (Africa) Top 5 causes of Death (World) Top 5 Causes of Death

(Low-income countries)

1 Lower respiratory tract infections Ischaemic heart disease Lower respiratory tract infections
2 HIV/AIDS Stroke Diarrhea
3 Diarrhea Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Ischaemic heart disease
4 Ischaemic heart disease Lower respiratory tract infections HIV/AIDS
5 Parasites and vector-borne diseases Alzheimer disease Stroke

Africa and Low-income countries have been haunted in the past with high mortality rates from respiratory tract infections. If the major killers from 2016 are still in action, Africa maybe in far much more trouble as this will add on to an existing family of killers. Covid-19 has been known to attack the old, sick and weak, which makes Sub Saharan Africa’s exposure up to 5% as the population of the elderly (+65) is only 5% of the total population.

Today the slogan and change in lifestyle required to contain and manage the spread of the Covid-19 need the support of an enabling environment that works in favour of the people and not of the virus. Mother nature has already proven to be on Africa’s side already as the humidity and temperature are too high than the most severely affected countries and regions.

The above diagram is a true reflection of the population distribution and vulnerability, as this shows that Asia (Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western) where the virus emerged from has the oldest population of more than 44% hence the cases are more fatal. The same can be said for Europe and North America which also have an ageing population of up to 29% of its population.

Despite efforts being made to reduce the panic and detrimental effects that Covid-19 has had globally, Social Media and Technology have not been helping as these platforms have perpetrated more than enough panic attacks in communities, cities, and countries.

Africa remains greatly exposed to the threats brought about by the spread of the virus but mostly because of the capacity to process information and resources for research on the matters of the pandemic. The lacking infrastructure such as access to electricity which hinders communication in education and awareness on the virus and access to water and resources which are essential for hygiene purposes. These are just but a few problems that Africa has, and the next two months will be key in determining the fate of Africa.

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