Africa seems to have been spared by the coronavirus pandemic with relatively low deaths compared to other regions with higher numbers COVID deaths despite predictions that the continent might experience exceedingly high numbers.
According to moguldom.com, while the United States is reeling from over 205,000 covid-19 deaths and millions of infections, a number of African nations have avoided such high mortality rates. This is not by coincidence or happenstance. According to a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, the international community thought it may have to come to Africa’s aid in combating the coronavirus because of the “rampant poverty and lack of effective government.”
Not so. Here are three reasons Africa didn’t fumble covid-19 like America.
1, African countries already had a pandemic plan in place
In West Africa, infectious disease outbreaks are nothing new. They have dealt with Ebola, HIV/AIDS, West Nile and other outbreaks. As such, some nations in West Africa already had a pandemic plan in place.
Liberia, for example, began screening for covid-19 at the start of the year, according to The Post. They quarantined travelers coming in from countries with outbreaks and to date of their approximately 5 million residents, they’ve reported 1,335 cases and 82 deaths.
Senegal created an emergency operations center to deal with public health crises and Rwanda was aggressive in its response to the virus. Sengeal, which has 16 million citizens, has reported 302 deaths and Rwands, which has 12 million citizens, has reported only 26.
2, Africa’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rejected Western assumptions they would just die from Covid-19 and united to fight it
John Nkengasong is the director of Africa’s CDCs. He said he refused to just accept early model’s predictions of the dire fate of Africans.
“When I looked at the data and the assumptions, I wasn’t convinced,” Nkengasong told The Associated Press.
According to AP, Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, also urged unity to combat the virus. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown we have no option but to depend on each other,” Akufo-Addo said.
3, Africa didn’t wait for help from the outside world and leadership took action as quickly as possible
The continent’s public and private sectors united ro create an online purchasing platform, Made In Africa, to buy rapid testing, N95 masks, ventilators and other supplies directly from manufacturers.
Caribbean countries have begun following its lead and the dark continent is being praised for its ingenuity by some.
“I look at Africa and I look at the U.S., and I’m more optimistic about Africa, to be honest, because of the leadership there and doing their best despite limited resources,” said Sema Sgaier, director of the Surgo Foundation, which produced a COVID-19 vulnerability index for each region.
“Africa is doing a lot of things right the rest of the world isn’t,” Gayle Smith, a former administrator with the U.S. Agency for International Development, told AP. She said Africa’s covid-19 response “is a great story and one that needs to be told.”