While the U.S. and Europe battle to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, I can’t help but think about how Africa will cope when it becomes the next epicenter. Based on the three-month-old data that we have about the virus and its spread, guidelines on prevention, containment and mitigation have been set by the World Health Organization (WHO). So far, several African governments have adopted the U.S. and European approach that is centered on lockdowns, social distancing and frequent hand washing with soap and water. Though these are evidence-based recommendations, it is simply not practical for most of sub-Saharan Africa.
As of April 5, there were nearly 1.3 million patients with COVID-19, and there have been about 69,000 deaths. In Africa, 51 out of the 54 countries have recorded cases totaling more than 9,000 with 437 deaths. These low numbers are partly due to the limited testing capacity. The countries that have recorded the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases happen to be doing the highest number of tests. For example, as of April 4, South Africa has tested about 57,000 people and recorded more than 1,600 confirmed cases — the highest so far. There is still a window of opportunity for African governments to implement “Afrocentric” solutions in the battle against this pandemic.
Read the entire story at The Seattle Times. Kingsley Ndoh is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Global Health and an MPH graduate.