Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

As rich nations struggle, Africa’s virus response is praised

As rich nations struggle,  Africa’s virus response is praised

JOHANNESBURG- At a lecture to peers this month, John Nkengasong showed images that once dogged Africa, with a magazine cover declaring it “The Hopeless Continent.” Then he quoted Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah: “It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity.”
The coronavirus pandemic has fractured global relationships. But as director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nkengasong has helped to steer Africa’s 54 countries into an alliance praised as responding better than some richer countries, including the United States.
A former U.S. CDC official, he modeled Africa’s version after his ex-employer. Nkengasong is pained to see the U.S. agency struggle. In an interview with The Associated Press, he didn’t name U.S President Donald Trump but cited “factors we all know.”
While the U.S. nears 200,000 COVID-19 deaths and the world approaches 1 million, Africa’s surge has been leveling off. Its 1.4 million confirmed cases are far from the horrors predicted. Antibody testing is expected to show many more infections, but most cases are asymptomatic. Just over 34,000 deaths are confirmed on the continent of 1.3 billion people.
“Africa is doing a lot of things right the rest of the world isn’t,” said Gayle Smith, a former administrator with the U.S. Agency for International Development. She’s watched in astonishment as Washington looks inward instead of leading the world. But Africa “is a great story and one that needs to be told.”
Nkengasong, whom the Gates Foundation honors Tuesday with its Global Goalkeeper Award as a “relentless proponent of global collaboration,” is the continent’s most visible narrator. The Cameroon-born virologist insists that Africa can stand up to COVID-19 if given a fighting chance.
COVID-19’s effects are “devastating” for Africa, from education to economies to the fight against other diseases. Nkengasong plans a major conference next year to press countries to significantly increase health spending ahead of the next pandemic.
“If we do not,” he said, “something is terribly wrong with us.” (AP)