The African Union (AU) has shown both individual and collective leadership, adopting a range of measures that are key to combating the coronavirus (COVID-19).
At the beginning of the pandemic, which is considered the biggest public health emergency of our time, most countries were focused, understandably, on protecting their nationals.
However, it has become increasingly clear that fighting the disease only within one’s borders will not be effective in combating a pandemic that, by its very nature, is global. International support and solidarity are required to beat the coronavirus.
The AU has established an Africa Taskforce for Coronavirus (AFTCOR), set up to develop a unified continent-wide strategy to combat the virus and its impacts. African member states are taking a number of measures to contain the spread of the virus and mitigate its socio-economic impact.
As part of rapid measures adopted to counter the pandemic, the AU established an African Fund aimed at addressing the virus.
The fund aims to provide the necessary support for African countries against the virus outbreak. The AU has raised donations for the Fund, in addition to allocating $25m of its own budget to support the fund.
The AU also expressed its refusal to transform the continent into a testing lab where new medicines for the virus could be tested.
Meanwhile Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa announced that they will work to produce medical supplies to combat the new epidemic.
The African Center for Disease Control (Africa CDC) was assigned a set of unifying visions and policies to curb the virus’ spread in Africa. This comes in addition to providing medical equipment and expertise aimed at helping those countries most affected by the pandemic.
The Africa CDC is also responsible for collecting the necessary information on the continent’s capabilities to support countries suffering from a lack of medical services.
Unfortunately the extraordinary African summit “Silencing the Guns” was postponed due to the pandemic, as it was difficult to hold the extraordinary African Summit that was scheduled in May. The AU’s members are expected to re-schedule the summit for next November.
AU Legal Counsel, Namira Negm, said that it’s youth who are the actual hope and strength of Africa. This entails that governments are responsible for engaging young people to help in the fight against the coronavirus.
In order to contain the pandemic, countries across Africa need to adopt a comprehensive approach. This would ensure the active participation of local communities and religious leaders, in addition to youth who are the most resilient, Negm said.
Youth should play an important role in spreading awareness, as well as cooperating with local authorities to carry out strategies against the virus.
Negm added that the reason behind the virus’ spread is that societies have failed to respect government imposed restrictions. As a result, it is the youth who must play a major role in informing their societies and families on ways to protect themselves.