Why did the West demonize Africa

Africa's fight against Corona is causing other diseases to return

With less than 70,000 infections and fewer than 2,400 documented deaths, Africa has not yet felt the full impact of the corona pandemic. However, there are already indications that the indirect consequences of the wave of infections could become even more dangerous than the direct ones on this sensitive part of the world. The current concentration of forces on the anti-corona fight threatens to push the preoccupation with other epidemics into the background, warn experts. Around 380,000 Africans currently die of malaria every year - a number that could double in the coming year, said the Africa Director of the World Health Organization, Matshidiso Moeti, recently. Malaria is just one of numerous epidemic diseases that the continent is confronted with: measles, smallpox, HIV / AIDS, Lassa fever and Ebola are some of the others.

Considerable progress has been made in the fight against malaria over the past two decades. The "Global Coalition Against Malaria" distributed two billion impregnated mosquito nets worldwide, Western medicine discovered the Artemisia plant as the basis of a more effective remedy, and researchers were even about to introduce a malaria vaccine when the corona pandemic hit the continent. Since the turn of the millennium, these achievements have reduced the annual malaria deaths by well over half from one million to 380,000: an advance that now threatens to be undone. Francis Kimani of Kenya's Medical Research Institute also fears this: If specialists, resources and logistics were withdrawn from the fight against malaria and added to the campaign against corona, a relapse into the conditions of the past century can be expected in matters of malaria. That would mean death for over 600,000 Africans.

Suspension of vaccinations

Just a few weeks ago, the world was preparing for the ceremonial end to polio: The global vaccination campaigns had almost wiped out the polio virus. But recently new cases of the paralytic disease were reported from Niger and other African countries: They are attributed to the suspension of vaccinations due to the corona pandemic. Both for capacity reasons and for epidemiological considerations, the WHO was forced to at least temporarily suspend its vaccination campaigns: The risk that the coronavirus could be spread with the campaigns was also too great. Now the final victory over polio has to be postponed, if not completely called off.

The Ebola epidemic in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has also flared up again in the shadow of the corona pandemic: Preparations were also made there for the celebration of the triumph over the second worst Ebola outbreak in history, with 2,200 deaths. The population of the giant African state is currently facing four epidemics: Corona, Ebola, HIV / AIDS and measles.

Measles epidemic in the Congo

Even if measles is now (wrongly) considered a harmless childhood disease in Europe, the virus infection still has fatal consequences in Africa. According to estimates by the WHO, around 1.7 million people were infected on the susceptible continent in 2018 alone, of whom 50,000 died. The measles epidemic, which is currently rampant in the Congo, has already killed over 6,000 people. Measles vaccination campaigns have now been suspended in many African countries such as South Sudan, Ethiopia and Nigeria. As a result, 21 million children are no longer protected against the virus today, the WHO calculates.

And there was not even talk of other neglected tropical diseases - such as Lassa fever, elephantiasis, sleeping sickness or schistosomiasis. Even in "normal" times, only 0.6 percent of global health costs are spent on these infectious diseases, which affect around 600 million people worldwide (almost half of them African) - although these diseases are either completely erased or with comparatively little means could be effectively combated. The huge holes that the corona pandemic is currently tearing in health budgets preclude these diseases from being eradicated in the foreseeable future. In the coming months, the UN relief agencies will also have completely different problems: How they can reach the 76 million Africans who are already dependent on help despite the collapse of air traffic - the corona pandemic threatens to double this number in the coming months. (Johannes Dieterich from Johannesburg, May 13th, 2020)