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Africa: Solidarity in the fight against Covid‑19

Senegal: In Dakar, graffiti is being used to raise awareness of hygiene measures.

Senegal: In Dakar, graffiti is being used to raise awareness of hygiene measures., © Le Pictorium Agency via ZUMA

23.04.2020 - Article

From setting up corona units in local hospitals to training laboratory staff, Germany is taking rapid and targeted action in numerous African countries in an effort of solidarity.

The coronavirus pandemic has gripped the world. With over two million cases in total, almost every country is affected. Health care systems all over the world are reaching the limits of their capacity. The situation poses a particularly high risk for countries with poorly developed health care systems and where people may already be suffering from hunger, malnutrition and the impacts of crises and conflicts. A general issue is that people living in close quarters are often unable to observe social distancing rules, which allows the virus to spread more quickly. In some regions, the fact that large numbers of people already have weakened immune systems – for example due to malnutrition and diseases such as malaria, dengue or cholera – can also play a role. The risk of contracting Covid‑19 can also be higher in areas with inadequate sanitary facilities.

Beating the virus worldwide means beating it in Africa, too

Niger: Hygiene and awareness-raising measures are being carried out in cooperation with the local health authorities.
Niger: Hygiene and awareness-raising measures are being carried out in cooperation with the local health authorities.© German Embassy Niamey

The global pandemic can only be overcome if all countries work together closely. Germany is therefore undertaking significant efforts to tackle Covid‑19 across the world, including in African countries. African countries are rightly calling for strong international cooperation in addressing the virus and its impacts. The world cannot beat the virus unless Africa beats it. But Africa is in particular need of rapid and resolute support to ensure that the continent does not end up being especially hard‑hit by the crisis and its aftermath.

Germany’s approach comprises, on the one hand, support for global and multilateral action, such as the development of vaccines and medicines, and on the other, projects carried out together with African partners at the local level, close to the people they serve. In many locations, existing projects can be adapted to meet the needs of the new situation, allowing assistance to be provided quickly and directly:

  • GIZ and the Malawi Red Cross Society are working together to set up isolation wards for Covid‑19 patients in Malawian hospitals.
  • In Benin, three German experts from a rapid-response team are currently training Beninese laboratory staff. Medical equipment for the central laboratory in the capital Cotonou has also been made available.
  • In Ghana, the Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine is receiving support in modernising its facilities and procuring medical consumables and reagents in order to increase testing capacities.
  • In recent years, laboratory facilities have been set up as part of a project on biosecurity carried out together with the countries of the Sahel region. These can now be used for Covid‑19 testing.
  • In Niger, GIZ and KfW are carrying out hygiene and awareness-raising measures in cooperation with the local health authorities.
  • GIZ and KfW are supporting the West African Health Organization (WAHO), among other things, in drawing up national action plans, funding laboratory equipment that can be used in the region, and establishing an emergency aid fund.

Humanitarian aid for Africa: 363 million euros for 2020

Malawi: Corona units are being set up in local hospitals.
Malawi: Corona units are being set up in local Hospitals.© German Embassy Lilongwe

These examples show the diverse ways in which German and African partners are working to address the Covid-19 crisis. The Federal Government is also providing humanitarian aid where it is needed.

Before the outbreak of the pandemic, the Federal Government was already supporting humanitarian aid in the various regions of Africa where people are particularly at risk from crises and natural disasters. These include the Horn of Africa, the Great Lakes region and the Lake Chad and Sahel regions. For 2020, the Federal Government has already made 363 million euros available for humanitarian aid measures.

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