The realities of politics, testing and mitigation in Africa – The Mail & Guardian

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The ongoing global Covid-19 outbreak has revealed how strikingly unprepared the world is for a pandemic. A governance crisis is unfolding alongside the pandemic as health officials around the world compete for access to scarce medical supplies.

As the governments of African countries seek to avoid catastrophic outcomes, we point to the recent Lancet analysis by a prominent team of global health policy experts from the O’Neil Institute and Chatham House.

At the beginning of May, Africa had recorded over 52 000 Covid-19 cases and more than 2000 deaths. Although this appears to be a small number relative to the global burden, the sad truth is that it is the tip of the iceberg. This is because of the low testing capacity of most African countries. According to the Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC), testing capacity ranged from 10 tests per 100 000 people in Ethiopia to 280 per 100 000 in South Africa at the end of April. These pale in comparison to the rate of testing in western countries such as the United States, New Zealand and even Lithuania.

With rising nationalism in the face of Covid-19, Africa is being relegated to the sidelines in acquiring much-needed diagnostics as countries with the technology have …

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