Africa and Eastern Asia doing well to contain Coronavirus

The less developed world, particularly Africa and Eastern Asia, are doing much better in containing the COVID-19 pandemic than the developed countries, probably through their bitter experiences from Ebola and SARS outbreaks.

This was observed by panelists of the webinar discussion on Tuesday hosted by the Wall Street Journal under the topic ‘Multilateral Approaches to Improve Population Health’ sponsored by Philip Morris International (PMI).

The panelists were Julia Coronado, president and founder of Marcro Policy Perspectives together with PIM’s CEO, André Calantzopoulos.

Coronado observed that Africa and Eastern Asia used simple solutions to contain the pandemic, saying there are a lot of lessons to learn from these countries and that developed countries need to embrace some of the solutions used to collectively build global formulas.

As of Monday, September 28, confirmed COVID-19 cases from 55 African countries were at 1,460,328 while recoveries were at 1,207,261 — giving the number of active cases at 253,067.

Total reported deaths in Africa were at 35,163 with South Africa being hit the most as from the total cases of 670,766, the related deaths were at 16,398.

From the numbers compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University using statistics from the World Health Organization and other international institutions as well national and regional public health departments, other most-affected countries include Egypt (102,840 cases), Morocco (117,685), Ethiopia (73,332), Nigeria (58,324) and Algeria (51,067).

Malawi has registered two new cases, two new recoveries and no new deaths from the 62 COVID-19 tests that were conducted in the past 24 hours of Tuesday.

Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 5,772 cases including 179 deaths and of these cases, 4,245 cases have now recovered bringing the total number of active cases to 1,348.

It is through such statistics that Coronado based her appreciation that Africa’s response to the pandemic and she said there was need to embrace the goodwill from other less developed countries that made good strides in containing COVID-19.

Calantzopoulos prayed that the pandemic, which is estimated to be eliminated by mid next year, could disappear as sooner as possible and hopes for a vaccine to be found soon.

He said there was need for total global collaboration to eliminate the pandemic as well as get prepared to counter other health threats.

He added that people should also be encouraged from smoking altogether but he took cognizance that this might be a tall and the tobacco industry needs to try innovative alternatives to smoking.

In July, PMI — which is one of Malawi’s biggest buyers of tobacco — had its new invention of a smokeless cigarette smoking gadget named IQOS authorised by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is an innovative response aimed at reducing tobacco harm.

FDA verified that the IQOS system, which heats tobacco but does not burn it, significantly reduces the production of harmful and potentially harmful chemicals that are emitted from smoke when tobacco is actually burned.

The innovation helped PMI to garner good points and be ranked second on Tobacco Transformation Index, and also bring a new ray of hope to the African industry in which PMI buys its tobacco from, including Malawi — whose earnings from the green gold has sharply declined in recent years.

The Tobacco Transformation Index ranks Swedish Match — which divested its cigarette business in 1999 — in first position; PMI in second and British American Tobacco in third.

During the webinar, both Calantzopoulos and Coronado said there was need for collaboration by both the public and private sectors in the dissemination of factual information on health to make people change their lifestyles.

They said COVID-19 has helped people worldwide in behavioural health change, which was done collaboratively and that should be enhanced in the way the world would do business post COVID-19.

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