UN: COVID-19 in Africa: Protecting Lives and Economies

May 28, 2020

Anywhere between 300,000 and 3.3 million African people could lose their lives as a direct result of COVID-19, depending on the intervention measures taken to stop the spread.

Africa is particularly susceptible because 56 per cent of the urban population is concentrated in overcrowded and poorly serviced slum dwellings (excluding North Africa) and only 34 per cent of the households have access to basic hand washing facilities. In all, 71 per cent of Africa’s workforce is informally employed, and most of those cannot work from home. Close to 40 per cent of children under 5 years of age in Africa are undernourished. Of all the continents Africa has the highest prevalence of certain underlying conditions, like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. With lower ratios of hospital beds and health professionals to its population than other regions, high dependency on imports for its medicinal and pharmaceutical products, weak legal identity systems for direct benefit transfers, and weak economies that are unable to sustain health and lockdown costs, the continent is vulnerable.

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