President and African Union Chairman Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture:  Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
President and African Union Chairman Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

African countries holding their own in grappling with Covid-19, says Ramaphosa

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published May 25, 2020

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President Cyril Ramaphosa says as the continent celebrates Africa Day today, the coronavirus has brought challenges to the continent, but it has also shown its strength in the work being done to curb the spread of the virus.

Ramaphosa paid tribute to Africa Day in his weekly newsletter spelling out how tough the coronavirus has tested the continent's challenges especially with regards to the development of health care and its access.

"As countries around the world battle to turn the tide against the pandemic, Africa has taken firm control of its destiny, by developing a clear strategy and raising financial resources from its member states. The countries of the Global South are more vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 because of low levels of development, insufficient resources and weak health systems," Ramaphosa said.

He said as much as there are inequalities with healthcare access, the fact that the continent has had to grapple with TB and HIV has worked at its advantage as some of those established systems could be used to tackle the spread of the coronavirus.

 "The African response to the coronavirus pandemic has received widespread praise. Despite the multitude of resource challenges they face, African countries have come together in remarkable ways, united by a common purpose.  

"Yet at the same time, some of the very health challenges African countries have wrestled with for decades have given us a clear understanding of what needs to be done, and how to do it. African countries have been able to use their experience in managing outbreaks of malaria, cholera, HIV, TB and hemorrhagic viruses like Ebola and Lassa. Our understanding of communicable diseases and how to manage them has put us in good stead when it comes to coronavirus," he said.

He acknowledged the challenges in access to personal protective equipment which has affected many countries.

Ramaphosa said there have been some positives from the virus as it has led to the continent's contribution to vaccine research and the contribution to the creation of testing equipment like Senegal has done.

"At least 25 African countries have registered clinical trials for possible Cpvid-19 treatments, including for the BCG vaccine, hydroxychloroquine, antiretrovirals and Remdesivir, and as part of the global Solidarity clinical trials. Whether it is in repurposing health protocols used with other infectious disease outbreaks, rapidly deploying health care workers to communities, or in launching mobile Covid-19 testing labs to improve national testing capacities, Africa is working proactively to overcome this global threat," he said.

"This Africa Day we are reminded once again that the solutions to Africa’s problems, be they overcoming disease or eradicating poverty and underdevelopment, reside within Africa itself.
"Although the coronavirus pandemic is not an African problem alone, we have shown ourselves capable of agility and ingenuity. The work being done to defeat the coronavirus is evidence of a continent determined to leverage its strengths and capabilities to resolve its own challenges," Ramaphosa said.


* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's special #Coronavirus page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit 

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