…, and What Are the Hard Lessons to Be Learned From Affected Countries
The wisdom in the short wise saying that the world is a global village has become very relevant in recent times. This adage find its full expression when the Wuhan based virus covid-19 first raised its ugly head in China. The whole show started as a little drama in Wuhan and! Little did we known that the whole world will soon be set ablaze by the virus? Soon the whole world has been brought to a stand still with many countries helpless in lockdown. Most airlines have been closed and many proud cities now deserted and left as ghost towns. Even the most advance countries with the financial muscles and very robust health systems are crying like babies. Great countries like Italy, USA, France,UK, Spain etc could not contain the virus.
This lung ravaging virus has claimed many lives within weeks with very little recoveries. As l speak, more than two million people are affected. What started in Wuhan as a little fire has cross boundaries, continents and has finally landed in Africa? So far, out of the 1.3 billion people in Africa there are 19,000 infections with close to 1,000 deaths. Yesterday both WHO and UN officials warned in an interview with BBC that Africa could become the next epicenter with some 300,000 deaths projected,
The multi million dollar question that begs for an answer is how prepared is Africa to tackle Mr. Covid. We must be thankful to God that the virus has not started in Africa otherwise the whole continent would have been consumed because we don’t have the financial muscle and our weak and fragile health systems cannot stand the catastrophe. What can we learn as Africans from the magnitude of the devastation caused to other countries while the virus is gradually gaining root in Africa. There is an adage that when your friends bear is burning fetch water close to yours but with covid-19 Africa must deep its bear in water.
Let’s start our lesson from China the epicenter of the virus. China quickly recovered from the virus and now life has return to normal and their economy is up and booming while the rest of the world are in economic devastation. No wonder other countries are suspecting them of a foul play. What have they done differently that we should be learning from? The government of China took strong and very pragmatic step by locking down the Wuhan city where the virus was first identified. New hospitals were built within weeks to manage patients. While China was busy doing this the whole world was watching them like cinema and open their boarders for business as usual.
Now they are paying dearly for the catastrophe. Yesterday the United State of America angrily withdraw her financial support for World Health Organization for concealing information about the virus and misinforming the world. It is true that good, accurate and timely information is necessary for containing an out break of such nature. To seat back and allow a crisis of this nature to hit us and end up prescribing social distancing as a vaccine is very unfortunate and the WHO boss must be ashamed of himself and resign honourably. Africa has also done the same old mistake. Our leaders stand aloof instead of closing our borders. Now most African countries have now recorded cases. Ghana’s case count currently stands at 834 as at today.
Though Ghana’s president demonstrated some commitment by banning social gathering and engaging in aggressive testing of contacts, but lam afraid, if care is not taking all our efforts may be an exercise of futility. This is because unlike China which closed the city of Wuhan first and foremost to contain the virus, most of the affected regions in Ghana are still unlocked. Unlike China which built new hospitals to host the affected cases, most of our citizens who tested positive through contact tracing and active surveillance are still at home under the disguise of self isolation or self quarantine.
Identifying positive cases and living them among their families is a poor strategy and a recipe for disaster due to the collectivistic nature of our culture and our communal life. Again the average Ghanaian leave in chamber and hall apartments so the possibility of self quarantine is questionable. The fact is that we just don’t have the facilities to take care of just these few cases. It is no surprise that our numbers keep growing by the day. The community spread currently stands at 70% of all cases, a sign that the virus is gradually gaining momentum in Ghana and there is no reason to hide behind imported cases any more. Mass testing of contacts is good, but testing and not isolating both symptomatic and asymptomatic confirmed cases for early treatment is such a useless venture and a recipe for disaster.
I therefore add my voice to the numerous calls to appeal to the President of Ghana His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo to as a matter of urgency impose a lock down in all the affected regions. This will break the chain of transmission and cause the epidemic curve to flattened early enough for life to return to normal especially when we have a major election at hand.
Again l further wish to appeal to the president to expedite action by completing work on the various hospitals started by the former president and open and commission completed ones to at least handle the condition before the unexpected happens. Apart from South Africa who is doing well in handling the condition in the sub- region, Ghana’s effort is also commendable and l appeal to other African countries to take a cue from us.
In an attempt to tackle the Covid 19 pandemic, Ghana and many Africa countries have run to IMF for funding. My prayer is that these money do not fall in the hands of few greedy bustards who will use it for their own selfish gains instead of buying PPES for health workers and motivating them to sacrifice their life for mother Africa. To set the record straight l think running for such loans in itself is a shame for Africa.
Let’s not forget that covid 19 has brought economic disaster to the world. A time is coming if we fail to develop our economies and grow our continent even the loan we won’t get to borrow. Africa is the richest continent blessed with many natural resources such as oil deposits, gold reserves, many arable lands etc and yet the poorest. Both the United State of America and Russia could not hide this fact. While Donald Trump of the US did not miss words by telling us that “if you sit on gold, oil, uranium and your people don’t have food to eat, You are not Human”, Vladimir Putin of Russia on the other hand could not have put it in any better way than this “African soil can feed the whole of Europe, America, and Asia but their problem is just one, “THEIR LEADERS”. They lack good leaders”.
The earlier we learn our hard lessons the better it would be for us. I think both gentlemen are right. The truth is always bitter like chloroquine. If any Africa leader think otherwise let them prove them wrong by changing our economic fortunes. Let’s wake up and take very pragmatic measures before reality dawn on us. Posterity will judge us all if we fail to do our home work well.
Let me conclude by saying that in time of peace prepare for war. We may be sitting on a time bomb if we play with the virus. Long live Africa, long live Ghana.
Public Health Specialist and Consultant
Long Life Africa