Early April, Speak Up Africa, a strategic communications and advocacy not-for-profit organization dedicated to catalyzing leadership, enabling policy change, and increasing awareness for sustainable development in Africa, launched the “Stay Safe Africa” campaign. This campaign aims to empower communities and individuals to take simple and proven preventative measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Africa.
Around the world, COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on the health of citizens, as well as national and global economies. At present, in Africa, there are 43,343 confirmed cases, 1,761 deaths and 14,343 recoveries. Several risk factors mean the virus could spread quickly across the continent. High population densities, communal living, frequent and close contact between generations, as well as the constrained access to water and washing facilities all increase the likelihood of coronavirus infections and fatalities.
A co-ordinated Africa-led approach to slow the spread of COVID-19 is crucial to address the continent’s uneven access to tools and services and respond to Africa’s diverse cultural landscape. In April, to mobilize and manage funds from the public and private sector as well as individuals in Africa and to further strengthen the continent’s response to the pandemic, the African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) launched the Africa COVID-19 Response Fund. “Many countries from South Africa to Senegal via Nigeria and Kenya have announced the creation of solidarity funds. While these funds will serve primarily a national agenda, the virus knows no borders. And because the average citizen with disposable income can give small amounts of money, our best bet to fund the Africa CDC, in times of economic hardship, is to pool our resources.” adds Carl Manlan, COO of the Ecobank Foundation.
The Stay Safe Africa campaign incorporates messages and advice tailored for African communities and leadership, accounting for language, literacy and cultural barriers. “It is vital that individuals across Africa take responsibility to protect themselves, their families and their communities, by following the recommended prevention measures. As Africans, we must come together, with distance, and realize the importance of protecting ourselves from COVID-19 and act quickly”, highlighted Yacine Djibo, Executive Director of Speak Up Africa.
As the world comes together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to ensure that essential services and operations continue to protect the lives of people affected by malaria, Neglected Tropical Diseases, vaccine preventable diseases and in need of improved access to adequate sanitation.
The campaign is open to all partners, journalists, civil society organizations and communities to adopt and support and all assets to help support the campaign are available at StaySafeAfrica.org in both English and French. “Now more than ever, we must acknowledge the importance of communications and digital communities, leverage information, unite across the board and stand together”, says Eloïne Barry, CEO of Africa Media Agency.
COVID-19 is a deadly disease that poses an immediate threat to the African continent and has the potential to take many lives. It is crucial that coronavirus transmission in Africa is restricted as quickly as possible to prevent a surge in cases and deaths, which would have a devastating impact on Africa’s already strained health systems.
“The current pandemic is a striking reminder of the need for stronger health systems. This is a prime opportunity to take measures aimed at social protection and sustainable financing of the health sector”, underlines Dr. Magda Robalo, Minister of Public Health of Guinea Bissau.
« In the face of an unprecedented pandemic, only where there has been collective awareness and concerted action have nations contained the devastating impact of the COVID-19 virus. The time is now for solidarity and action at individual, community, national and regional levels on the continent to keep Africa safe » concludes Taufiq Rahim, Executive Director of Globesight.
For prevention measures to be effective, the time to act is now.
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