2020 August

Out of control?

The African continent is on its way to reaching one million Coronavirus positive cases. Approximately 20.000 people died, but this is almost certainly underestimated according to many epidemiologists. Experts from the World Health Organization continue to try to pinpoint the month in which the eventual peak will occur. First they talked about July, then August, now September. Our impression is that unfortunately this will continue for months while waiting for the vaccine. The numbers are on the rise in almost all states. South Africa, the most industrialized country on the continent, has recorded 450.000 infections and 7.000 deaths to date. There are at least 13.000 infected health workers. The percentage of tests carried out on the population is perhaps the highest in Africa. In Nigeria, on the other hand, which with 200 million inhabitants is the most populated nation, the cases reported are 40.000, also because the number of examinations does not reach 3.000 per day, not even a tenth of those carried out in South Africa which has a quarter of the population. of Nigeria. In Kenya we have exceeded 20.000 positives, with an average of 600/700 new cases per day. Government data speak of almost 300 deaths, but as for many other diseases, the epidemiological reports are not certain. There is no certain diagnosis for those who die in slums or villages in rural areas.

A positive note in the field of possible treatments for COVID-19 is that in Kenya they are starting clinical Trials with two drugs already tested with scientific evidence in other countries: Remdesivir, already used in West Africa against Ebola, and Tocilizumab, tested with good results in Italy. At the same time, however, in Madagascar, where cases are on the rise, the Minister of Health who invoked the need for means of protection for health professionals was censored by the President who continues to propose locally produced anti-Covid syrup. The president of Tanzania has stated that his country is Covid-free, free of the virus, but continues to prevent free speech for his doctors and the WHO has not received data on the pandemic from Tanzania for months.

At this moment, while a part of humanity, health personnel, researchers, humanitarian workers in the lead, is trying on scientific basis to defeat COVID-19 and to highlight the devastating consequences of social inequalities, another part stands on "denial" positions, dangerous both because the Coronavirus is expanding more than ever in the world, and because those who express them have a significant media influence on a part of the population.

It is increasingly essential to consider the "side effects" of the pandemic. Diseases of poverty are on the rise, especially in countries where health is almost exclusively private and public health systems are extremely fragile. The economic crisis and the absence of a welfare state in most of the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa are creating a further impoverishment of the weaker classes that have always been marginalized. And malnutrition affects millions of families.

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