India’s COVID-19 emergency, a wake-up call to Africa – says AU

By : Ogine Victor

Following the ravaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, the leadership of the African Union (AU) through the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has called on African Leaders and its citizenries not to let their guards down in other to avoid a similar situation to that of India.

John Nkengasong, Head, Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention who made this call while speaking to journalists on Thursday said African nations generally do not have sufficient numbers of health care workers, hospital beds, oxygen supplies; as the continent of 1.3 billion would be even more overwhelmed than India if cases surged in a similar way.

He, therefore, urged Africans to wear masks and avoid large gatherings, saying that: “We cannot and should not find ourselves in (India’s) scenario because of the very fragile nature of our health systems.”

Nkengasong further disclosed that the AU will be convening a meeting with all African ministers of health on May 8, Nkengasong said, to “put everybody on alert”.

India, with 1.35 billion people, has a similar population size to the African continent, yet Africa has even weaker health systems, and unlike India does not manufacture significant quantities of drugs or vaccines, he added.

The bulk of the vaccines supplied so far to Africa via the global vaccine-sharing facility COVAX have been AstraZeneca shots manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. India suspended its exports of the shot in March to cope with rising domestic demand.