WHO says African countries will receive financial support to fight the coronavirus outbreak but should do more individually and collectively to fight the global pandemic.
A group of WHO experts said this during a teleconference briefing with African journalists on Thursday just hours after the organisation’s head, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, warned African countries to “wake up” to the coronavirus threat and prepare for the worst.
Addressing the press, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, echoed the sentiment but added the continent’s experience in dealing communicable diseases, would prove an advantage.
However, Moeti also warned that poor health systems made the continent particularly vulnerable.
She revealed the World Bank has set aside $12 billion dollars for to help African countries fight the outbreak while EU and some Middle Eastern countries will also provide funds to WHO to support response plans by individual countries and WHO partner organisations.
Governments will be required to make requests to access the funds, she added, based on their needs and action plans.
“There has been a very strong response at the international level of contributions and commitments to financing to respond to Covid-19 outbreak generally,” said Moeti.
The funds are on top of WHO technical support, including supply of some 2 000 basic testing to 37 African countries which, officials added, are already running out and need replenishing.
The teleconference was moderated by Adrian Monck, Managing Director, World Economic Forum and also featured Lucile Imboua-Niava, WHO representative for Senegal, Owen Kaluwa, WHO representative for South Africa.
Kaluwa said, so far, the steps taken by the South African government—following declaration of disaster by President Cyril Ramaphosa to curb the spread of outbreak—appear adequate.
He said the measures announced were consistent with the precautions WHO was encouraging to ensure there is containment and mitigation of the spread of the virus but said a lockdown is a “national decision.”
Kaluwa said SA government was working with private sector to improve access to testing by producing more test kits.
Officials further dismissed fears that the African population infected with coronavirus but undetected due to late testing could be higher, saying more cases with symptoms could have been registered by now.
She said both Africa and South America are demonstrating same trends with low prevalence of the outbreak but said there was no scientific research that has been done to explain the phenomenon.