By Sola Ogundipe
Nigeria and other African nations have been cautioned against complacency and prematurely celebrating the slow increase in the number of COVID-19 infections in the continent.
The Managing Director of the Society for Family Health, SFH, Dr Omokhudu Idogho, who warned in Abuja, said: “…Africa has defied some of the initial scary projections on the growth path of the pandemic, some of which had suggested that 45 countries will have more than 10,000 cases by this first week of May.”
In a statement on the COVID-19 situation in African nations, particularly Nigeria.n the COVID-19 situation in African nations, particularly Nigeria, he stated: “Reviewing this against the literal doubling of Nigeria’s cases from 1,095 cases as of the 24th April 2020 to 2,017 cases as of 1st May 2020 – this increase within a one-week period and the on-going expansion of testing would suggest that we take another look at these projections – rather than the emerging euphoria and complacency that Africa has an alternate pathway for COVID-19 transmission.”
“I will strongly suggest an alternate approach based on a cautious and proactive reflection on these numbers as, unfortunately, we are unable to work out where we are on the infection curve,” he added.
Warning that COVID-19 is one case where people must ensure that complacency does not take hold on both sides of leadership and followership, the statement recalls “the bitter experience with the HIV epidemic that saw the continent lose a significant number of its productive workforce and deepened the prevailing gender stereotypes with women and girls as caregivers and took the continent backward.
“Any complacency will see a worse situation than what the continent faced with AIDS and Ebola combined.
“The emerging trajectory of (COVID-19) will thrash Africa’s weak health and social protection systems, deepening the specter of poverty and lack for millions of households losing their caregivers, and productive members of communities.
“The capacity for institutional care will collapse and the recourse to community management with its attendant impact will become the order of the day. Women and girls will be the worst affected as the bulk of care will fall on them, eroding the nascent gains made on gender equality and economic empowerment in the continent,” he averred.
He urged African leaders and citizens to be mobilised for the long term to contain the pandemic. He urged: “Stay at home if that is what is required, and let us pull together to support each other to guarantee a daily livelihood for the poorest among us and ensure the effectiveness of lockdowns where they are in place;
“If sick or exposed, let us keep to the directive of self-isolation; As a patient presenting in the hospital, let’s provide all the required information, including travel history or any exposure to COVID-19 for good clinical decision making.
“Let’s all keep the handwashing, elbow sneezing and other advised public health behaviours going. Let’s pull together, to ensure our safety, that of our families, friends, communities, and countries;
We must not be complacent: let’s prevent the spread of, and work together to contain COVID-19 in Africa,” he avowed.