Several factors unique to the continent will complicate the efforts to reduce coronavirus infections.
Several factors unique to the continent will complicate the efforts to reduce coronavirus infectionscoronavirus has been slow to spread across Africa, but there are several factors unique to the continent that could make it difficult to reduce the rate of infections — and make the pandemic more deadly for Africa than for other continents. A major factor is the near-impossibility of social distancing in many African societies. Most communities harbour a strong social culture and are built around extended family ties. In many cases, children are taken care of by grandparents. Much of the urban population lives in informal settlements where it is impossible to distance yourself from your neighbours. Conflict, poverty and natural disasters have left 18-million people internally displaced or seeking refuge in other countries, many living in camps with little or no water, low sanitation, and non-existent healthcare. This is complicated further by the porous nature of African borders. Most of the current confirmed cases are from travellers outside the continent. The low volume of international mobility may have temporarily spared Africa, for now. However, once the pandemic does take hold, it will be difficult for most African countries to enforce a lockdown: the frequent and poorly governed movements across borders among kin communities and pastoralists who remain outside the purview of states could make the propagation of the virus transnational. With nearly broken public-health systems, deprived public-health sectors and a very small number of specialised hospitals, there is little capability for identification, testing, confirmation, isolation and treatment of those people infected. Taking the experience of those countries already affected, the preparations and current intensive-care capacity in Africa pales in comparison to the oncoming infections. South Africa, the most prosperous African country, has declared the pandemic a disaster and it is employing its emergency fund. South Africa has about 5 000 intensive-care unit (ICU) beds. Sudan, for example, is estimated to have . Beyond the virus Beyond the effects of the virus itself, Covid-19 is likely to have severe knock-on effects for African health systems, potentially destroying recent gains. And what about the populations that are already reliant on humanitarian aid? With donor countries trying to mobilise all their resources to fight Covid-19 in their own jurisdictions, long-term projects in Africa risk being abandoned (for instance, the United States recently recalled all of its 7 000 Peace Corps volunteers , who were working in 60 countries around the world, including 26 in Africa). This is all before the economic cost of confronting the pandemic has been accounted for (South Africa, the continent’s second-largest economy, on Monday announced a 21-day lockdown , the economic impact of which will reverberate far beyond its borders); or the political and security costs, because the pandemic makes it more difficult for the continent to address conflict and poor governance. That last issue is crucial: in many cases, poor governance is the reason why African countries are not prepared for the pandemic. But governance — good governance — is also the only way to make it through this difficult time intact. Many African states, especially the ones in conflict, are strong in the wrong functions of state. Resources are poured into government security, governing parties and the interests of select individuals or groups. At the same time, these states are weak on the functions of state necessary to ensure human security, such as health, education and trust — precisely the functions necessary during this crisis. The reality is that markets will not salvage societies during calamities such as this one. States that have human security as their central mission might. But, largely thanks to the misguided prescriptions of dominant powers, some African states have been reduced to “police states”, which are strong only when it comes to securing and maintaining their own power, unconstitutionally. The structural adjustment programmes pushed by global governance institutions such as the Read more: Mail & Guardian
Poorly written article with no balanced approach. There are also unique factors that make it difficult for the virus to spread
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