Homos Economicus & COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa

  1. It is tough sustaining a lockdown in an environment like ours for more than four weeks without serious social and economic consequences – hunger riots, etc. Hence, why most African countries are removing or easing the lockdown restrictions, especially given the relatively low mortality figures – e.g. Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa. So, the balance is that the economic decisions would always triumph the health dimensions (even though the two are linked).
  2. The critical thing now is resourcing the frontline health agencies to deal with any surge in cases, particularly those that’ll end up at the hospitals needing critical care. The rest is TEST, TRACK & ISOLATE but the economy needs to run. We’ve mismanaged our affairs since independence and don’t have the fiscal buffers that some of the developed countries have at their disposal to fight a pandemic of this scale.
  3. I worry a lot about the frontline health staff and share concerns being raised that some feel they’re being used as ‘sacrificial lambs’ due to the lack of PPEs and other kits. In fact, the same concerns are here in the UK with many GP surgeries and care homes lacking the basics to deal with the virus. An acquaintance who works at a care home lost three elderly persons last week and scared of going to work but can’t afford to go because of the pounds. There are four people in Ghana that are directly dependent on her for their survival through the remittances she sends. I guess it might even be worse with frontline health workers in Ghana.
  4. Ghana’s finance minister announced increased Covid-19 healthcare expenditure in his situational update to parliament a few weeks ago. I guess we need to follow to see if the allocations have been made to the ministry of health and other agencies to procure the necessary supplies. The other challenge is that the over-centralisation of procurement decisions in Accra means some of the health centres further away from the capital may never get the kits and PPEs on time if any. It’s the same with paracetamol and other medications.
  5. While Ghana’s confirmed COVID-19 cases and mortality statistics remain low, my biggest worry now is that any significant increase in cases requiring hospitalisation could wreak havoc on our healthcare system. We have been spared the worst of this pandemic so far, but Ghana (and Africa) doesn’t have the resources to deal with a disease of this scale.

Stay safe! Shalom! 

 

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