Posted April 18, 2020 10:40 am by

SEATTLE, United States, Apr 18 – The COVID – 19 pandemic has shown that global health is only as strong as our most vulnerable community. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says the world can defeat this virus, but it require us to fight it fairly; not just with the needs of the most powerful in mind, but with the needs of all people, especially those in Africa.

The Foundations’ Africa Director, Oumar Seydi, says they are already working with their African partners to protect the most vulnerable; accelerate detection and containment of the virus; develop treatments and a vaccine; and minimize societal and economic impact.

Since the virus emerged late last year, COVID-19 has largely been a disease of the Global North with the worst and deadliest effects have been felt in Europe, East Asia, and North America.

But that is likely to change said Seydi, as the pandemic reaches its peak and begins to slow in these places, epidemiological models suggest it will accelerate in developing nations— including those in sub-Saharan Africa.

“When I joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last year as its Africa Director, I never imagined that the continent would be dealing with a situation of this magnitude, and I salute the continent’s leaders for adopting measures to prevent the virus’ rapid spread amongst their populations,” said Seydi in an opinion piece posted in the foundation’s website earlier this week.

Seydi: “The first area is where the bulk of our work has been focused since the outbreak. We’ve helped set up Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), for example, and have been working with partners like the World Bank Group and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa.”

“We know physical distancing measures are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, but we also know that those distancing measures as they were applied in the United States and Western Europe might not work in the African context,” he explained. “Many more people on the continent face a terrible choice – stay home or feed their children. We know that genuine community engagement might help overcome this obstacle, and we’re working with our partners to support the effort.”

Seydi said the foundation has also assisted in scaling up local disease surveillance and testing in the past several weeks. “At the start of the year, for instance, only two countries in sub-Saharan Africa had the ability to test for COVID-19. In early February, the Read More…