CONCERNING COVID 19, the major test for African countries is whether non-pharmaceutical care will do the trick or a strict adherence of both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical strategy shall suffice. I argue that, due to limited infrastructure; non-pharmaceutical strategies like quarantine, social distancing, lock-downs and observance of proper hygiene, contact tracing and immediate treatment after isolation or quarantining should suffice. For countries that have limited number of health and quasi health professionals as well as limited hospital beds and preventive and protective equipment’s and gears, they will be safer if they avoid or reduce contacts and infections. We say, “prevention is better than cure”.
Some have argued that economic disruptions and poor economic performance shall defeat lock-down strategies in Africa. It is worrying for many that the economic fatigue and hunger shall make lock-downs ineffective and also have the potential to cause deaths on its own. However, the public health strategy would largely be that which ensures the protection of the citizenry, holding all other things constant. Concerning the case of Ghana, there is a rising curve in terms of the infection rate but the President has removed a partial locked-down he placed on Greater Accra, Tema and Kasoa. Accra which is the capital of Ghana is the epicenter of the COVID 19 in Ghana. During the colonial period, Accra was the epicenter of the flu pandemic which decimated one hundred thousand (100,000) lives in Ghana. It seems we are not learning from history and we are not actually following the science.
Not being a pessimist, the expectation is that, there might be some turn of events in the atmosphere; that was the expectation during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919. At Cape Coast, in Ghana, an open air crusade was organized. It was well attended because people believed that there was the hand of God in the events or the occurrences of the time. The fear is that, when infection rates increase through community-spread and more people are hospitalized, the rate of infections among physicians and nurses who are limited and disproportionately distributed in Ghana will increase. This shall lead to a cataclysm. Ghana Health Service might be found wanting and the hospitals shall be overwhelmed. There is also news about cerebra spinal meningitis increasing its threshold in terms of mortality in the northern and upper regions of Ghana. The endemic nature of malaria has not stopped. Chronic non-communicable diseases continue to fester among other challenges. These challenges including accidents and other emergencies have not stopped because of the pandemic. Indeed, these are not normal times. The already overstretched health infrastructure, medical personnel and poverty in Africa can have the proclivity to exacerbate the challenge in African countries.
The above has equally called for extraordinary efforts from West-African Health Organization (WAHO) , which my country, Ghana, is a member, and the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as respective governments in the West-African block to develop a synergistic relationship in their quest to fight the COVID 19 pandemic. Same should suffice within the broader continent of Africa under the African Union and respective commissions. At the heart of same, is the question concerning the true emancipation of Africans. Shall home-grown strategies as well as personnel be able to withstand the scourge of COVID 19 ? Are the colonial masters making some efforts to support their former colonies ? Great Britain which had several satellite territories during the colonial period is also overwhelmed by the onslaught of COVID 19 . The economic pundits are predicting doom and gloom economies as lasting legacies of the pandemic, not excluding the pain, shame (stigma) as well as its wanton destruction of the youthful and the elderly population.
COVID 19 oh COVID 19, let the conversation commence !