03 February 2021
The Covid pandemic in Africa
The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa has been unpredictable.
The first confirmed incidence in Africa was reported by Egypt in February 2020 after which the disease spread across the continent within three months. Lesotho reported its first case by May 2020.
The first wave of the pandemic led to severe lockdown measures that caused hardships due to the large informal market sector in Africa i.e. no work - no pay. Economies shrank following border closures, restricted movements and prohibited gatherings. Foodstuffs became very expensive especially in the urban cities because of limited transportation of agricultural products to urban markets. Those in the rural areas did better at feeding themselves, but lacked funds to purchase other goods. Supply of portable water was also a challenge. In view of the hardship, the Methodist Church in Britain gave ‘COVID-19 hardship grants’ to partners in The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Togo, Benin, Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also affected the fragile health systems in many African countries. Frontline medics needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), to protect themselves from the spread of the novel coronavirus. With many African governments struggling to obtain sufficient PPE supplies, mission hospitals became vulnerable because government hospitals had priority. The British Methodist Conference disbursed grants for PPE to Methodist mission hospitals in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya benefitted. With God’s help, deaths from COVID-19 remained relatively low and in many African countries governments eased lockdown measures to keep their economies rolling.
Regrettably, around Christmas, many people travelled to visit family and friends, crossing counties and borders. This increased the disease spread in many countries. Southern Africa was worst hit and a new South African strain spread across the region. Hospitals in Mozambique witnessed high number of patients, schools in Zimbabwe remain closed as deaths increased and Zambia also experienced rising numbers of positive COVID-19 cases. With Africa being a very religious continent, places of worship remain open, but with stricter rules such as washing hands, wearing facemasks and practicing social distancing. The situation in South Africa has led to increased funerals and closed churches.
Please pray for our British mission partners serving alongside their colleagues as frontline personnel in numerous African countries.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the best of humanity as we hear stories of how partners are assisting each other. Despite the precarious nature of the disease transmission, to frontline staff, Cuba sent some doctors and nurses to assist in Mozambique hospitals. The African Union has also offered to share its vaccine supplies with some Caribbean countries. The love of God is being displayed as we serve and bless each other, with the British Methodists also sharing resources with global partners. As Prof Jeremy Farrar said, “vaccines are great news, but global solidarity is the only way out of this pandemic”. May this be achieved in Jesus’ name…
...if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday…
Dr Olubunmi Olayisade
Africa Partnership Coordinator