COVID-19 in West Africa: Multiple crises demand a new approach to co-operation

By Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer, African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and Honorary President, Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC)


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


ENVISION Project in Senegal
Healthcare workers in Senegal. Photo: RTI International/Sam Phelps

West Africa is in the midst of a food crisis of exceptional magnitude. The recent meeting of the Food Crisis Prevention Network — which monitors the food and nutrition situation in the Sahel and West Africa — reported that the crisis is expected to affect 17 million people in the coming months; twice as many as the average of previous years. This worsening situation is mainly due to a high level of insecurity.

The COVID-19 pandemic is already hitting the region hard as a result of the collapse of world commodity prices, the devaluation of some currencies, inflation and difficulties in importing agricultural inputs. Moreover, some policy responses, such as limiting mobility, closing or restricting market activity — are de facto threatening the livelihoods of the majority of the population. It is feared that the spread of the pandemic will be rapid and massive, especially since — despite a young population — the immune systems of millions of people are weakened by malnutrition or chronic illnesses. Continue reading

How Africa Can Fight the Pandemic

By Arkebe Oqubay, Senior Minister and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, distinguished fellow at the Overseas Development Institute and author


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Sumy Sadurni / AFP via Getty Images / Project Syndicate

WHO warns Africa could be next epicentre of the Coronavirus and the pandemic will kill at least 300,000 people in Africa and push nearly 30 million into poverty.


The response to Africa’s COVID-19 plight must be swift and at scale rather than too little, too late. In a world short of progressive global leadership, where rules-based global governance is under threat, this is a chance for African and international policymakers to take decisive action.

Addis  Ababa – The COVID-19 death toll is still mounting in the developed West, but the pandemic’s impact on Africa could be much worse. African and international leaders must act boldly, decisively, and immediately to prevent a catastrophe.

Many African countries were ill-prepared to tackle the Ebola epidemic that erupted in 2014. And COVID-19 presents a much graver danger because it can spread exponentially, including via asymptomatic carriers, while African governments remain constrained by weak health-care systems, limited resources, and economic and spatial constraints on social-distancing measures.

Since Egypt reported Africa’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 on February 14, the number of cases has risen to more than 10,000, with Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa each recording over 2,000. The continent’s death toll already exceeds 500, implying a mortality rate well above the global average. This high death rate, together with the low number of confirmed cases, may reflect Africa’s very low rate of COVID-19 testing. Continue reading

Global response to COVID-19 in Africa must protect lives, livelihoods, and freedoms

By E. Gyimah-Boadi, Board Chairman and interim CEO of Afrobarometer, and Carolyn Logan, Director of Analysis for Afrobarometer


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


Madina Hospital in Mogadishu
UN Photo – Tobin Jones

As COVID-19 gains a foothold on the continent, fears are growing that Africa’s fragile health-care systems and economies will provide little protection from the pandemic’s potential ravages. At the same time, trust in government institutions – one of the most critical resources needed to mount effective societal responses that depend on widespread public cooperation – is sorely lacking in many African countries. Concern is also growing that regimes that are either unscrupulous or desperate may take advantage of local fears and global pressures to place not just essential, temporary restrictions on public freedoms, but to roll back hard-won gains on a more permanent basis.

 

While citizens may be ill-equipped to speak or act in defense of their freedoms during an emerging crisis, perceptions that governments are abusing their powers and taking advantage of the situation could undermine public trust still further. Limiting the effects of the pandemic on Africa and saving lives requires an urgent global response. But the international community must also provide support in ways that strengthen, rather than undermine, Africans’ freedoms. Continue reading

COVID-19 and beyond: How can Africa’s health systems cope?

By Riku Elovainio, Consultant in global health and social protection and Alexander Pick, OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


globe-life-line-AFRICA(Lire ce blog en français)

The Covid-19 pandemic threatens to overwhelm health systems everywhere. With the virus now present in 52 African countries, will health systems in the region, many of which were under strain before the pandemic and have no reserve capacity, be able to cope? International support will be crucial in helping countries in Africa respond, but efforts to strengthen the region’s health services in the short term confront an array of obstacles that extend beyond the health sector itself. Even a crisis of these proportions should not obscure the long-term priorities for Africa’s health systems, on which depends its capacity to deal with day-to-day demand, let alone the next crisis.

The West African Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016 exposed the affected countries’ limited capacity to deal with a widespread disease outbreak. The lessons for health systems across Africa were understood yet have not prompted a step change in public health services, even in the countries where the Ebola crisis struck. While there is great variation across Africa (South Africa’s health system is clearly very different from South Sudan’s, for example), many countries exhibit the same gaps in their health systems that make it extremely difficult to scale up a short-term response.

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Avec ou sans, pendant et après le Covid-19, priorité aux réformes des systèmes de santé et d’éducation en Afrique de l’Ouest

Par Gilles Yabi, fondateur de WATHI, think tank citoyen de l’Afrique de l’Ouest


Ce blog fait partie d’une série sur la lutte contre le COVID-19 dans les pays en voie de développement. Visitez la page dédiée de l’OCDE pour accéder aux données, analyses et recommandations de l’OCDE sur les impacts sanitaires, économiques, financiers et sociétaux de COVID-19 dans le monde.


SWAC-blog-covid19En Afrique de l’Ouest, les impacts de Covid-19 seront-ils catastrophiques ? La crise Ebola a révélé la très grande faiblesse des systèmes sanitaires des pays touchés à l’époque dans la région, Liberia, Sierra Leone et Guinée principalement. Si des enseignements importants ont été tirés, avec la mise en place de centres dédiés aux urgences sanitaires dans plusieurs pays, les systèmes de santé dans leur ensemble ne se sont pas particulièrement renforcés. Les ménages assument l’essentiel des dépenses de santé par rapport aux États, les inégalités d’accès aux soins sont frappantes, et les hôpitaux manquent cruellement de personnel qualifié, de matériel, de dispositif de maintenance des équipements et de médicaments, ainsi que de capacités d’accueil et, parfois, de salubrité. La crise du coronavirus exacerbera sans doute la situation. Il est plus que jamais primordial de renforcer et d’investir dans les systèmes de santé, sans quoi la plupart des pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest ne pourront faire face ni aux crises sanitaires, comme celle du Covid-19, ni aux nombreuses autres maladies infectieuses ou chroniques.

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When COVID-19 Comes to Africa

By Arkebe Oqubay, Senior Minister and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, distinguished fellow at the Overseas Development Institute and author


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


covid19-africaThere is no telling how long it will take to bring the COVID-19 coronavirus under control, or how many people will be affected. But African governments, in cooperation with communities and international actors, can take steps now to limit the damage – and lay the foundations for a healthier, more resilient future.

Addia Ababa – The COVID-19 coronavirus – which has now spread to more than 100 countries – has pushed the world into “uncharted territory,” according to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom. So far, Africa has recorded relatively few infections, but there is no reason to believe this won’t change. When it does, the results could be catastrophic.

One need only recall the West African Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016 to comprehend the potential damage. The hardest-hit countries were Guinea (with 3,814 cases and 2,544 deaths), Liberia (10,678 cases and 4,810 deaths), and Sierra Leone (14,124 cases and 3,956 deaths). Moreover, since August 2018, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has faced its own large-scale Ebola epidemic, with more than 3,444 cases and 2,264 deaths (as of March 10, 2020). Continue reading

A “good wife” married to a “real man”: Three million girls still at risk of Female Genital Mutilation

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By Gaëlle Ferrant, Economist, and Estelle Loiseau, Gender Programme Officer, OECD Development Centre

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Three million girls are still at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) every year. Twenty-five years after adopting the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (articles 39 and 93) and five years after setting the Sustainable Development Goal 5.3, which both call for the eradication of FGM, the world has failed to protect its women and girls. An estimated 200 million girls and women in Africa, the Middle East and Asia have fallen victim to FGM. However, the practice is not restricted to these regions only: 600 000 women in Europe and 513 000 women and girls in the United States have undergone FGM. These figures are unacceptable, especially when the exact total number remains unknown and is likely underestimated.

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