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Giving Compass' Take:
• At Brookings, experts call for a coordinated, immediate debt relief effort to stave off the effects of coronavirus on the African public, many of whom don't possess adequate access to health care.
• The article classifies the pandemic as a global struggle. Why is it necessary to protect all nations in order to fend off the disease? How can you adjust your efforts to provide immediate debt relief to communities who need it most?
After a slow start, COVID-19 has spread increasingly rapidly throughout Africa, with more than 7,000 confirmed cases and 294 deaths across 45 countries and two territories as of April 7. Unless the continent urgently receives more assistance, the virus will continue to cut a deadly and remorseless path across it, with ever grimmer health and economic consequences. As an essential first step, therefore, we call for immediate debt relief for African countries in order to create the fiscal space governments need to respond to the pandemic.
After all, combating COVID-19 is more challenging in Africa than in other parts of the world. Access to quality health care across the continent remains limited, despite some countries’ recent progress. One-third of Africans cannot wash their hands regularly, because they lack access to clean water.
Nonetheless, African governments are responding to COVID-19 with determination, including by instituting states of emergency, requiring physical distancing, imposing forced quarantines, and restricting travel and public gatherings. And private sector firms, civil society groups, and grassroots movements are joining the fight any way they can.
But the key challenge is the availability of resources.
Africa needs an initial $100 billion in financial support, because sharp declines in commodity prices, trade, and tourism—a direct result of the pandemic—are causing government revenues to dry up fast. Meanwhile, investor pullback from risky assets has pushed up the cost of borrowing in financial markets, limiting viable options for resource mobilization.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the extent of our interconnectedness, reminding us of how closely the fates of all countries are intertwined. The global health system is only as strong as its weakest link: Success in combating the pandemic in any country will be short-lived until every country succeeds.
Read the full article about the need for immediate debt relief in Africa at Brookings.