Malawi former president Joyce Banda and 11 other African leaders have called on the African Union, United Nations and World Bank to help condense the social and economic effects of coronavirus in Africa.
Banda confirmed she is party to a statement signed by among others former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo ; ex-Botswana President Festus Mogae and former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
The four-paragraph statement titled ‘Appeal for preparations for Africa to confront the onslaught of COVID-19’ said: “In the almost four months of the outbreak of Covid-19, we have seen the mitigation effect or otherwise by the preparatory and preventive actions made by different nations and international organisations to combat the killer virus.
“The results have been related to the seriousness of preparations and preventive measures taken, including the level of healthcare measures and delivery.The epidemiological progression in already affected areas has indicated that the worst case has yet to occur in Africa.”
The former heads of State say due to weak healthcare bases in Africa, there is need for serious measures to address the effects of the disease which has already killed over 47,000 people globally.
Banda told Nyasa Times that organisations like United Nations, African Union and European Union can pool together resources for African countries.
She has accused the government of Malawi of hiding the real figures of Covid-19, saying it needed to be transparent in order to access international disaster relief funds.
“The global community cannot assist us when we are hiding our statistics and our challenges to fight the pandemic,” she said.
Banda said government need to be proactive and stop politicising coornavirus.
Accoridng to commentators, Africa is woefully ill-equipped to cope with Covid-19 as Social distancing is far harder in overcrowded slums. Lockdowns could increase poverty and hunger.
The burden on health-care systems from covid-19 could impede treatment of other diseases. Studies of the Ebola outbreak in west Africa suggest that about as many people died because they could not get treatment for malaria, HIV and tuberculosis as from Ebola itself.
Governments may also have a hard time convincing their citizens to take the new virus seriously. Fake news is one reason. Dodgy cures and conspiracy theories are spreading on WhatsApp groups, which typically have more members in Africa than elsewhere.
Religion may be doing more to spread the disease than stop it.
Many African leaders have been swift to ban religious meetings. Some churches are streaming services online. But this is not the case in Tanzania, where President John Magufuli has refused to close churches, saying: “That’s where there is true healing. Corona is the devil and it cannot survive in the body of Jesus.”
In some countries such as Malawi, where most people subsist by growing their own food, the economic impact of covid-19 may be relatively small. But in many others, the clampdowns on economic life are adding to the pain. Restrictions on movement and commerce will be especially harmful to workers in the informal economy—that is, most of the African labour force. Roughly 85% of workers do not receive a regular reported wage.—Additional reporting by The EconomistFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :