AUDA-NEPAD Response to COVID-19 & other Epidemics

Short- & Medium Term Response

COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, and its global impact is profound. As confirmed[1] cases rapidly increase around the world, evidence so far shows that COVID-19 is a threat to many lives. World-wide, economic activities have been disrupted, health systems are overwhelmed, the value of assets is depleted, and lasting geopolitical changes have been triggered. To date, confirmed cases from 203 countries are at 936 865. Of the total cases, 47 264 deaths and 194 658 recovered have been reported[2]. In Africa, 6 383 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed from 48 countries. There are 197 confirmed deaths and 408 recovered[3]. The total number of cases in Africa is relatively lower compared to Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Whilst health aspects are paramount and urgent, there is recognition of the social and economic havoc that COVID19 is already causing globally. There are a lot of “known unknowns” concerning the spread of COVID-19 in Africa. The disease itself and the measures taken by many countries to slow-down the spread of COVID-19 are drastically impacting social and economic activities. Once an economy is shutdown (or locked-down), it is extremely difficult for the economy to recover to the level it had attained prior to the lockdown. Livelihoods at individual, household, community and business (formal and informal) levels are being disrupted daily. In Africa, the adverse impact on performance of micro, small, medium and even large businesses and social dynamics in different communities[4] is unimaginable. The consequences range from reduced operational capacity to loss of contract work, drop in demand and suppressed markets. Ultimately, the chain of events leads to inevitable loss of jobs and income. The way Governments operate is not spared, given the weak digital connectedness.

Around the world, desperate and disparate efforts are being implemented to contain this disruptive pandemic. The restrictive measures such as national lockdowns are “double-edged”: The acute pullback in economic (and social[5]) activity, necessary to protect public health, is simultaneously jeopardizing the economic well-being of citizens and institutions[6]. Governments have a short window to mount public health responses that can stem COVID-19 spread. The same Governments must also put in place social and economic responses to cushion people from disruptions caused by this pandemic. Lockdowns are badly hurting the informal and small business sectors which are a major source of livelihoods for a significant part of the African population. Therefore, appropriate initiatives have to be implemented to address the current realities faced by African countries.

In Africa, at the continental level, the African Union Commission through its Center for Disease Control developed a continent-wide strategy with two overarching goals of (i) Preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19 infection in Member States, and (ii) Minimizing social disruption and economic consequences of COVID-19 outbreaks. Such actions envisage that the Africa CDC (i) coordinates the efforts of Member States, African Union agencies, World Health Organization, and other partners to ensure synergy and minimize duplication; (ii) promote evidence-based public health practice for surveillance, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of COVID-19. View White Paper at AUDA.NEPAD.org