“During this pandemic, the most vulnerable have been the hardest hit… We must increase our resilience. We must work together and take an integrated approach to health, hunger, climate, and equity crisis- no one is safe from COVID-19 until everyone is safe”. – Volkan Bozkir, President of United Nations General Assembly
The havoc brought by the intrusion of the Coronavirus outbreak left no nation untouched. All have felt the fiery claws of this monstrosity as economic cocoons unraveled under its load and many lives were lost.
The entire world watched in horror as this virus demanded our undivided attention. Many world leaders sought measures through which this pandemic could be stooped in its tracks and the virus contained. Well, with varying degrees of success some nations were able to deal effectively with the pandemic relative to others.
As Africans, there is no denying it, we felt, firsthand, what it is like to lose lives and economic stabilities both as independent nations and as a continent. Many Africans have watched with horror as their neighboring countries experienced exponential increases in the prevalence of this uninvited guest.
It has been a very disheartening thing to hear of many of our fellow Africans either losing lives or jobs as leaders from different walks of life sought better ways of dealing with our predicament. Figuratively speaking, mother Africa has, during this period, had her face wet with tears as she watched her children dying at the merciless hands virus.
Nevertheless, what has been very disturbing has been the lack of unity amongst Africans in dealing with these concerns. In the struggle against the coronavirus outbreak African people and African nations, have not demonstrated a collective fighting spirit, put lives first, united together, gave full respect to science and built a united front to achieve the final victory.
Perhaps, this explains why some African countries did manage to deal effectively with the pandemic a great majority is still in deep mire as of today. The question that should be ringing in people’s minds should be: where would we be if we confronted this pandemic collectively?
Well, we may never know unless we start right now working as a team. Then the next questions also beg to be answered: where and how do we begin? The remainder of this essay will seek to suggest as few of available options.
First, there is no better way to begin than by underscoring the following,
“COVID-19 highlights how truly interdependent we all are. How reliant we are on cooperation, communication, and compassion to successfully combat the virus. It highlights how important it is that we work together for a sustainable recovery that delivers for our economies and our planet”. – Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand
COVID-19 has brought into question our leadership capacities. It has challenged our leaders’ abilities to anticipate trouble and to show a collective front in meeting the common enemy.
In this area, we saw our leaders panicking and not standing united. The enemy stormed our borders. Therefore, if we are going to come out on top, when all is said and done, we must join forces. We must share ideas between governments. Let those that have made positive strides share with the rest and replicate solutions. In our day, meetings between government representatives can be both virtual and in-person.
The virus has also questioned our advances in science and health facilities. Vaccines were not African and took time to come in. This left many Africans skeptical about them. Of course, this meant that, in many countries, citizens were resistant to the vaccines. This was also, in part, due to conspiracy theories, but very serious nonetheless.
Another practical solution will be to strengthen our health facilities, because undeniably, they were not up to the task. For example, machines and oxygen tanks had to be imported and during that period African lives were lost. We also seriously need to enhance our laboratories so that vaccines can be locally manufactured and readily available should a need arise.
We need to bolster our research initiatives and advance our knowledge base in terms of pandemics and their patterns. This will help us to understand the strains of the Coronavirus.
In other words, we need to make financial investment towards building our continental infrastructure. This will help in ensuring that, even though it is obvious that this virus can and does evolve, we can be better positioned to deal with it effectively.
Equally important, as Africans we can seek out available literature on how other countries are doing it. We can then domesticate such measures to fit our African context and apply such throughout the continent.
For instance, according to Global Citizen on 5 countries that are getting COVID-19 responses right, “New Zealand ranks first place when it comes to its COVID-19 response, according to the Global Response index. The World Health Organization’s Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus singled out the country for its management of the effects of the virus”. Learning from such nations can speed up our response rates and provide us with foundational information on which to build more of our own solutions.
We can also begin to share COVID-19 relevant resources. Finally, we can crowd-source innovative solutions through online platforms, whereby all stakeholders share their ideas and solutions are built collectively.
In conclusion, the suggested solutions in this essay must not be seen as independent from each other but rather as interdependent, which will maximize their impact. Africa united we stand.