COVID-19 has reached many sub-Saharan African countries. The global health crisis is compounding difficulties in a part of the world that’s long grappled with conflict, humanitarian disaster, infrastructure inadequacies, under-resourced health systems, and limited economic funding.
The recent estimates show that COVID-19 could push 40 to 60 million people globally into extreme poverty, 27 million of whom live in Sub-Saharan Africa. The immediate impacts are being felt the hardest in urban areas and in the informal sector, which employs around 80% of the population in low income countries.
The continent’s demographic structure is different from other regions in the world. The median age of the 1.3 billion population in Africa is 19.7 years. By contrast, the median age in China is: 38.4 years, and the median age in the European Union is: 43.1 years.
In addition, the World Health Organization estimates that 100 million face masks and gloves, and up to 25 million respirators, will need to be shipped to African countries every month to respond effectively to COVID-19, at a time when there is a global scramble for supplies.
Modelling conducted on behalf of the World Health Organization and UNAIDS has estimated that if efforts are not made to mitigate and overcome interruptions in health services and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy could lead to more than 500000 extra deaths from AIDS-related illnesses, including from tuberculosis, in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020–2021.
However, these foreign governments, China, USA, EU, India, France, UAE, Turkey, Qatar, South Korea Cuba, UK, Russia, as well as their foundations and private sectors, have sent funding, supplies, and doctors to sub-Saharan African countries.
Beating Covid-19 in Africa, in turn, is essential for beating it worldwide. African leadership and global solidarity are both essential to overcoming the Covid-19 crisis in Africa, and Africa’s citizens demand nothing less.
A strong recovery is key to building the resilient societies capable of withstanding the next unexpected event. This is an important part of the global response to soften the impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and to ensure that governments have the resources to respond swiftly and decisively to protect lives and livelihoods. The sub-Saharan African countries will need too to build more sustainable economies.