Tackling COVID-19: Finding West Africa’s Path

Introduction


The days when COVID-19 was only a distant threat to West African countries are over. It is now evident that the virus is here to stay and
must be addressed with practical responses that take into account the West African settings. Although the infection curve is not exponential, community transmission is beginning to gain ground in the region, with countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, and Senegal at the forefront with the most cases.

The lack of testing capacity in many countries suggests that the
estimated number of cases are most likely understated. Currently,
there are three factors that give the region an advantage in the fight against the novel disease. First, is its youthful population. The average age of Africans is below 20 years, and available data suggests that the risk of serious medical complications and death is
lower among younger people.

Furthermore, warm weather in the region could potentially reduce the spread of the virus, although this fact is remains unproven Lastly, as a result of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, it could analysts have argued that the region has some experience confronting infectious diseases.

While these factors might allow the region to avoid the worst of the pandemic, it also faces grave challenges that could overwhelm these advantages They include high levels of poverty densely packed urban areas and weak health systems and insecurity.


As the number of COVID 19 cases continues to increase, it will become increasingly difficult for the fragile healthcare system and economies of the region to withstand the effects of the pandemic This is because overall healthcare financing in most west African countries is relatively low at an average of US 292 per capita, thus, indicating a major constraint to effective healthcare service delivery.

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