“This is not a crisis that respects borders,” said the charity’s chief executive in the UK.
Essaouira – “If we act now and act decisively, we can prevent and contain the pandemic threat facing the poorest countries,” said Save the Children UK Chief Executive Kevin Watkins in a press release on March 27.
Researchers at London’s Imperial College have analyzed different responses to the COVID-19 crisis. The results of the study show that a delayed response to the pandemic “will cost at least three million lives” in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
Watkins warned that allowing the pandemic to rage on in Africa will “fuel the pandemic” in Europe, North Africa, and the Americas.
“This is not a crisis that respects borders,” he said.
The university’s researchers found health systems in sub-Saharan African countries do not have the capacity to meet a full-blown pandemic on the scale of the European crisis.
“Peak demand for critical care beds is 25 times higher than the available numbers of beds,” the Save the Children press release reported.
The statement called for international cooperation, saying “the window of opportunity for containing the crisis” in sub-Saharan countries is rapidly closing.
Save the Children emphasized that, before the spread of the pandemic, every year “Millions of children die as a result of the inability of their parents to get treatment for basic diseases like malaria, sepsis and diarrhoea.”
“Over 800,000 children die from pneumonia alone, many of them because there is no medical oxygen available,” the press release underlined.
In order to support health services already at a breaking point, the charity argues, countries across the globe need to unite to fight the spread of the disease in sub-Saharan Africa.
Save the Children called for “a single global plan to get support to the front-lines where it is desperately needed.”
The call to action involved global finance, prioritizing the safety of children, supporting education, and protecting vulnerable populations.
A growing number of cases in Africa
Save the Children’s call to arms comes as the number of cases in Africa reaches 5,413.
The African Union’s (AU) Center for Disease Control (CDC) released an infographic on March 31 showing the distribution of cases across the continent.
According to the CDC, North Africa has the highest number of confirmed novel coronavirus in Africa. The region has reported 2,185 cases. Egypt reports 656, while Algeria and Morocco report 582 and 574, respectively.
However, an announcement from the Moroccan Ministry of Health today, April 1, confirmed the number of cases in the kingdom has now risen to 638.
Tunisia has reported 362 cases and Libya, still in midst of a civil war, now has eight confirmed cases.
Southern Africa currently has 1,435 patients testing positive for the virus. South Africa has the largest number of COVID-19 cases in the region and the continent more widely, with 1,353 cases.
Western Africa continues to inch towards the thousand mark and has reported 980 confirmed cases. Burkina Faso currently faces the highest numbers of infection in the region with 246, while Cote d’Ivoire has reported 168 cases.
Nigeria now has 131 confirmed cases, prompting the government to implement a two-week lockdown affecting over 25 million people.
Eastern Africa currently has 460 confirmed cases, though numbers continue to increase rapidly. Central Africa has 353 cases with the majority in Cameroon (193) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (98).
“It is what is done at this point that will determine the numbers who will become very ill,” she warned. Preventing millions of deaths on the continent will require “coordination, a huge effort and huge resources,” Moeti added.
Meanwhile, Director General of WHO Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus urged African states to begin preparations immediately for a peak in cases.
“In other countries we have seen how the virus actually accelerates after a certain tipping point, so best advice for Africa is to prepare for the worst and prepare today,” he underlined.