Africa has been presented with a chance to improve its approach in fighting the pandemic.
Africa has been presented with a chance to improve its approach in fighting the pandemic.

EDITORIAL: Africa must act before fourth wave hits

By Siyavuya Mzantsi Time of article published Nov 25, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - The fourth wave of Covid-19 infections in Europe presents an ideal opportunity for Africa to put measures in place to minimise the impact when it finally hits the continent.

While tightening lockdown levels have helped reduce infections, the impact on the economies of our struggling continent has been devastating.

Africa has been presented with a chance to improve its approach in fighting the pandemic. Acting now will put the continent in a better position to avoid reversing the small gains made, particularly in other health crises such as malaria, Ebola and TB. These were severely affected when countries went into lockdown.

The arrival of the fourth wave is merely a question of when. Scientists tell us that the wave may not be as devastating as previous ones, but the fact is that it will have an impact, no matter the scale.

One needs to just look at how European governments are under severe pressure, with some reintroducing lockdowns.

This should be a warning that we, as Africans, cannot afford to rest on our laurels and react only when infections are rising.

The hoarding of vaccines by wealthy countries was the clearest indication that we had to do it on our own. Our reliance on donations and handouts was rather disappointing.

Even when we got vaccines, our government seemed clueless on how to get people to take their jabs.

By the end of last month, just five African countries, less than 10% of our 54 nations, were projected to hit the year-end target of fully vaccinating 40% of their population.

A startling comparison is that more than 70% of high-income countries have vaccinated more than 40% of their people while Africa fully vaccinated 77 million people, just 6% of its population.

We are faced with a challenge of meeting the rising demand for essential vaccination commodities, such as syringes.

Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa, have experienced delays in receiving syringes, according to the World Health Organization.

What this means is that we are always lagging behind. It’s not that we cannot do it, but it’s our reliance on others that is our biggest downfall.

Europeans have started rolling out booster shots and couldn’t care less about others. Blaming them for being selfish is like beating a dead horse. After all, they are responsible for the position that our continent finds itself in.

This crisis presents that opportunity. It’s a long shot. But if not now, then when?

Cape Times

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