As Africa reports new cases of Coronavirus, they have a reason to smile for the world is thinking about them. The Chinese Government, in collaboration with Jack Ma, co-founder of the online shopping platform, Alibaba, pledged to send Coronavirus medical supplies such as protective clothing for workers, masks, and test kits for the Coronavirus. The first shipment arrived in the Africa CDC Ethiopia (Africa Union’s Centers for disease control and prevention) on 22 March 2020. The Government of Ethiopia is responsible for distributing these supplies to their neighboring countries. They have already started distributing them to Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan, and Kenya.
More Medical Supplies are set to arrive
More shipments will arrive since Jack Ma pledged to offer 100,000 face masks, 20,000 test kits, and 100 protective gear for health workers to each African country. That makes it a total of 6 million face masks, over one million test kits, and 60,000 protective equipment for medical workers.
Africa lacks the health systems required to contain such a pandemic. But with these supplies, they will be able to diagnose the virus in its early stages effectively. According to Jack Ma, and Ethiopia’s Health Minister, Lia Tadesse, the face masks, and other protective clothing will also prevent the spread of the Covid-19. Ethiopian Airlines is tasked with distributing these supplies all over the continent. Even though several countries have locked their borders, they can still make exceptions for cargo planes.
Jack Ma has also donated medical supplies to the USA, Europe, South America, and Asia.
Status of the Coronavirus in Africa
The spread of the virus is not as fast as in Western countries, but its effects can still be felt. At the time of writing this, about 400,000 have the Coronavirus, and about 17,000 have been recorded. In Kenya, 17 more cases were reported in just two days, raising the number of infected cases to 25. According to WHO, Africa has recorded 1300 and 40 deaths in 43 countries so far.
The highest cases are in Egypt, South Africa, and Algeria. These countries have recorded 294, 274, and 201 cases, respectively. It’s also possible that these figures are not the exact statistics on the ground since there may be unidentified cases. Some countries have experienced transmissions from one person to another within their boundaries. Most of the cases are from people with a travel history to a country with Covid-19 cases. Therefore, with local transmission, the situation might get worse in Africa. Consider the case of Italy, the high number of cases and deaths reported are as a result of the transmission of the virus locally. Most African countries don’t have an adequate healthcare system to contain such a spread.
Other factors that make Africa a ticking time bomb include people living with HIV, children who are suffering from malnutrition, and the elderly. What all these have in common is that their immune systems have been weakened. Once they contract the Covid-19, their bodies may not be able to fight it off. Various countries globally have recorded deaths of people in these three groups.
Current Efforts by WHO to distribute Medical Supplies
Before the Chinese Government donated medical supplies, WHO had been doing its best to contain the spread of the Covid-19 in Africa. This is by providing Coronavirus medical supplies, and training the medical practitioners and improving the local monitoring systems. So far, they have provided these equipments and training, to 47 countries. WHO is also responsible for the latest measures such as repatriation, lockdowns and shutdowns, and workplace conduct that prevents the spread of the Coronavirus. WHO has collaborated with technology experts to assist in monitoring and the modeling of the virus outbreaks. This helps in predicting areas prone to an outbreak. They also educate the affected countries on how to understand the outbreaks in their regions. WHO is also helping these countries craft effective ways of informing the public about the virus, the latest developments as well as proper ways to avoid spreading, or getting infected by this virus.
Covid-19 is a global disaster. And like other disasters, Africa and other developing countries appear to be more prone to adverse effects. This is because of poverty, lack of proper information, or inadequate information dissemination, and politics. But thanks to WHO, Jack Ma, and the Chinese Government, Africa will have a head start in dealing with this pandemic even before it spreads further.