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05.05.2020 Opinion

What Is Africa Doing?

By Kwame Adinkrah
What Is Africa Doing?
LISTEN MAY 5, 2020

The African continent has always been pitied and turned into a prostitute where powerful foreign economies use to their own desire. They exploit the African continent of its precious wealth and give a little token after the “exploited pleasure.” At the end, the continent is faced with inadequacies and difficulties in surviving. The presence of COVID-19 has indeed revealed how useless the foreign economies have made Africa.

Governments of Africa have been fleet in mitigating the pandemic with absolute measures like curfew and lockdown, and as well imitating similar interventions taken by stronger economies. This lockdown directive damages the economy and the powerful economies are able to establish packages to protect employment and ensure the survival of companies. This is extremely difficult for most African countries to follow because it will drag their economies into a halt.

Currently, Ghana has lifted the partial lockdown that was to curb the spread of the virus due to the directive's implications on its economy. Most African countries have pathetic health care systems and funds necessary to fight the COVID-19 is inadequate; their economy is unable to support the fight. Local currencies are losing up to 30% of their exchange rate value, evaporating income from depressed commodity prices, and a stoppage of global value chains. Africa now cries to powerful economies for financial relief.

Africa's confusion and problems are extremely higher than the other continents. Fortunately, it seems that the world was in this together until some foreign leaders wanted to make Africans “testing pigs.” When Jean-Paul Mira, head of intensive care at Cochin hospital in Paris said, “if I can be provocative, shouldn't we be doing this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatments, no resuscitations.” His suggestion and that of his colleagues were made on experimenting the BCG vaccines used for the treatment of Tuberculosis as vaccines for the COVID-19 and they mentioned Africa to be a testing ground. This sparked widespread anger from almost all Africans.

Following that brouhaha critically, it draws attention to one point; WHAT IS AFRICA DOING on its own to fight the COVID-19. If Africa had strong economies and better health systems to battle the pandemic, probably the continent would have been respected.

Health workers in Africa cry for PPE as they fear to be at risk.

Not only personal protective equipment but Africa needs 15million test kits to diagnose the COVID-19. This will help African countries step up their fight against the pandemic. With the available resources, African countries are trying immensely to get a fighting chance but is it enough. The continent has been rated as a failure over the years by foreign leaders; the most popular is the Donald Trump's “shit hole” comment he used in describing Africa. Where is Africa's preparedness. Africa was COVID-19 free but posed idle and watched the virus enter their countries regardless of the fairly slow arrival of the virus.

Some African leaders say that, the European countries with the best health systems have recorded huge numbers of COVID-19 cases and are struggling so by far these African leaders claim they have managed the pandemic effectively per the number of cases their countries have recorded but imagine if any African country had recorded over 100,000 cases, what would have been its fate by now. African leaders use the struggles of the foreign countries as a benchmark to measure its performance in managing the COVID-19, such a pity.

Ghana among other African countries is seeing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases everyday. Hospitals in rural areas are struggling to reach the far distant parts of the country because of logistical challenges. In fact, some medical facilities in the Northern region were delivering their samples through Ghana post, a very expensive strategy. But this is because Ghana has just 2 testing centers and all samples must be transported there. This actually delays the process. It was until recently that drones have been introduced to transport samples to the testing facilities; it doesn't cover all areas in the country. With regards to issues on isolation centers, sometimes COVID-19 patients are asked to quarantine themselves in their own houses and receive treatment as the government claims to be searching for a place as an isolation center to treat these patients. Not only Ghana, Somalia and Central African Republic are facing similar challenges.

The presence of the pandemic has made ventilators a powerful weapon in saving severe COVID-19 patients. And as usual, Africa is vulnerable. According to WHO, across over 41 countries in Africa, there are fewer than 2000 ventilators. Somalia has none, The Central African Republic has three, South Sudan has four, Liberia has five and Nigeria, with a population of 200 million has fewer than 100.

The inadequate equipment and training makes Africa stand a mere chance of saving the lives of the most severe COVID-19 patients as the number of patients begin to spike. As of May 4, Africa had recorded 44,398 and 1,797 deaths. Is Africa deliberately failing as said by Mahad Hassan, one of Somalia's few epidemiologists and a member of the government's coronavirus task force.

Africa is copying the Western countries blindly. It needs to do more, now that the continent doesn't want to be used as a testing ground. This pandemic has exposed Africa's fault lines in its health systems, and other crucial sector. Today the poor and the elite are equal in the presence of COVID-19. The government officials and elite having a record of jetting abroad for medical treatment are now grounded; flights are not working and today, they can't dodge the weak health systems they built.

Africa is scrambling to buy ventilators, some African countries are being innovative and others are also waiting for ventilators from the Jack Ma foundation. The likes of Ghana and Rwanda have built ventilators to save severe COVID-19 patients.

Ghana steps up its fight against COVID-19 as KNUST outdoors home-built ventilator.

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana worked tireless to build a portable ventilator. The prototype was made of less expensive materials and technology. So with this invention, Ghana may not have to depend on foreign countries for ventilators when fully developed.

Kenya, South Africa and other Africa countries are also getting factories to switch gears and respond to the COVID-19. Similar efforts are underway in Nigeria.

Amidst the struggles, Madagascar has appeared to be a sign of hope and model to imitate in Africa. It has almost cured all COVID-19 cases without the aid of any Western country. The creation of Tambavy CovidOrganics/ Preventive and Cure by the Madagasies has proven that Africa is capable.

Madagascar officially launches a cure for COVID-19, curative/preventive tonic.

According to Andry Rajoelina, the president of Madagascar, all trials and test have been conducted, its effectiveness in reducing the elimination of symptoms has been proven for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 in Madagascar. Madagascar's cases is at 149, of which 98 has recovered with no deaths. The medicine is being distributed freely to the most vulnerable citizens and sold at affordable prices to others. The Madagascan president has donated to Equatorial Guinea, Tambavy CovidOrganics. Mr Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo, the President of Equatorial Guinea sent a special envoy with a chartered flight to take delivery of 10,000 doses of preventive treatment and 1,500 doses of curative treatments.

Tanzania and Guinea-Bissau have made plans to import the treatment medicine. Africa should coordinate with the Madagascan government, to assess and order large quantities of the product, to treat the disease in their respective countries. African countries having the medicine should not build a false sense of security, else they will put themselves at great risk because they might end up doing things that they would not otherwise have done.

Madagascar invested wisely in its research institute, something most African countries do not foster. The time is now, at this dire times science is impacting a chance to fight the pandemic. The rest of the African countries should resource their research institute because the Blackman can create the impossible when there is support. African leaders must expedite action to procure adequate PPE and other logistics and make the same available to frontline health workers.

Governments must also take steps to provide manuals and appropriate training to boost the confidence of health workers in the fight against COVID-19. Health workers must not be exposed to the virus because if they are at risk, Africans are at risk.

African leaders need to delegate power to the local authorities and its public health outbreak teams to begin large scale testing in their jurisdictions. Testing across the general population will reveal better procedures to properly control the spread and completely eradicate the virus.

It's not too late for Africa to get back to it's drawing boards. Africa must demonstrate to the rest of the world that it's capable of managing its own affairs.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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