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Combating Crisis Using Indigenous Solutions

Africa like other parts of the world is at crossroads due to the disturbing consequences of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) that is registering a heavy death toll across the globe. Although the danger of death and economic consequences are real in all countries, the approach and solutions required to check the devastating impact of the disease outbreak will never be the same for everybody. Africa, for instance, has nothing in terms of health facilities, financial stamina compared to the Western World where the disease has already killed thousands. Declaring any victory over COVID-19 will, as such, call for context-specific methods, especially in Africa that already has enormous health challenges. In some countries, political rhetoric has taken centre stage and more is heard about what the leadership is doing than the illness. Others are busy looking for locally adopted medication while some insist on feeding habits that help build the immune system of the people and there are also those that are focusing on building the health and infrastructural capacities of their countries in order to provide a better response to any the pandemics. So far, the number of deaths in the African Continent still remains low compared to the figures in the Developed World and Asia. This in no way calls for celebration not just because experts keep sending warning signals to the Continent, but more as a result of the fact that one person dying in Africa is already one too many. Africa has for ages suffered some of the worse health challenges and uncountable diseases already bedevil the population, talk less of poverty and economic hardship. Curiously, the strange virus that has proven fatal in other continents is finding locally produced herbs in Africa which are said to be efficient in restoring the health of most victims. Some local investors have equally come up with timid but beneficial business models that are proving useful to the population. While hoping that the discoveries eventually enable the people to move from empirical observations to providing scientifically tested outcomes that could keep the population out of harm’s way, the first lesson could be that local solutions are often the best in tackling whatever problem that a given community may face. Some of the recommendations by governments and the World Health Organisation that preventive measures against COVID-19 include regular washing of hands, wearing of face mask, the use of hand sanitizers and keeping social distancing may end up being life-saving habits if they were to be cultivated on a daily basis. Hygienic norms have often been taken for granted in most African countries where people go by the cliché that ‘a black person does not die from dirt’. But the scare provoked by the Coronavirus has been such that even doubting Thomas’s are seen washing their hands each day more than they have ever done before. Self-imposed rules on cleanliness are the best gifts that any individual or communities will offer themselves, if the achievement from the advent of COVID-19 is good hygiene, improvement in national economies, and sanitation practices. There is also the provision of vital health infrastructure that many African countries lack. A general lockdown imposed on the entire world by the disease means that people must have to turn to available facilities and health solutions for survival. Encouraging local researchers towards developing indigenous findings to global health hazards has never been so urgent. Politicians who have in the past counted on foreign health expertise and infrastructure in times of need must think twice given that the current blockade imposed across the globe has made it impossible for them to go abroad. The need to invest more in health care at home is proving to be unavoidable. That will also mean avoiding capital flight, improving balance of payment as less would be spent on the importation of healthcare kits and more money injected to produce local health equipment for the population. As African countries go to negotiate debt relief to better tackle COVID-19, they will also be conscious of the dangers involved in taking loans of ostentation and think more about common wellbeing.

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