Carl Manlan on the AU COVID-19 response


July 13, 2020

Carl Manlan and Ebba Kalondo, Spokesperon of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, look at the steps the African Union and governments have taken to combat COVID-19, having learned lessons from Ebola.

The first confirmed COVID-19 case in Africa was in February 2020, following which an emergency summit of African ministers of health set out a public health response. The African Union developed the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing, building on lessons from past epidemics such as Ebola.

Some African countries were already carrying out airport screening, as part of the Ebola response. Key corridors between African states were kept open to ensure the transport of basic goods and medical supplies. Envoys engaged with international financial institutions, asking for debt relief, to provide resources to vulnerable of communities.

The relatively low transmission rates in Africa are the result of decisive and prompt action. African leaders set up an African Union COVID-19 Response Fund, and citizens were asked to contribute. The fund will be used to purchase test kits and medical goods; and deploy one million community and healthcare workers to support contact-tracing.

Africa’s economic transformation is essential to guarantee everybody’s future, with prosperous businesses and well-paid employees providing tax resources for a welfare system and food security.

Read the full opinion-editorial here.

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