American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Volume 103, Issue 2, August 2020
African Resources and the Promise of Resilience against COVID-19
Ronald E. Blanton, Nancy B. Mock, Honelgn N. Hiruy, John S. Schieffelin, Seydou Doumbia, Christian Happi, Robert J. Samuels and Richard A. Oberhelman
The COVID-19 pandemic has been slow to arrive in the world’s poorest countries, especially in Africa. There are good reasons to believe that the consequences for the continent could be worse than anywhere else.1–3 The weaknesses of some governments, healthcare systems, and economies, plus armed conflict, are factors that the virus can and will exploit. A recent British Broadcasting Corporation article noted that there are 10 African countries that have no ventilators, nine have < 1 per 1 million people, and most of the others have too few to serve their populations in an outbreak of U.S. proportions.2 African countries need help but are not all helpless. To adequately preview the impact of COVID-19 on the continent, however, both weaknesses and strengths must be considered. The Africa of 2020 is not the Africa of 1960 or even 2014. Africa is a continent of 54 countries, with a range of climatic, cultural, demographic, and economic conditions that contrast them with more developed regions and with each other (Table 1). The country-to-country effects of COVID-19 could be quite different, and there are resources that may help produce better than expected outcomes.