China-Africa solidarity key to global war on COVID-19: Kenyan expert

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China-Africa solidarity is key to the global war on COVID-19, a Kenyan scholar said on Sunday.

Peter Kagwanja, CEO, Africa Policy Institute, a regional think-tank said in a commentary published in the Sunday Nation that the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) zone with an estimated 35 percent of the world’s population forms the largest global solidarity block against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This solidarity block is contributing immensely to the global efforts to keep the pandemic away from some of the world’s poorest countries,” Kagwanja wrote.

He observed that with the weakest public health capacity globally, Africa is a sitting duck for a new COVID-19 wave.

According to the scholar, despite the relatively low numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa, solidarity is still required to contain the virus, which is turning its fury on the continent.

“Solidarity with China, the first country to be hit by COVID-19, will help the continent weather the worst public health storm in recent decades,” Kagwanja wrote.

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He observed that when the crisis struck in December 2019, Africa and the world showed solidarity by delivering protective equipment to China. “The Chinese are now returning solidarity to Africa,” he added.

Kagwanja noted that China has shown commonality against the pandemic by sharing their experience, sending experts, medical equipment, personal protective equipment and diagnostic kits to all corners of Africa.

The scholar said that looking forward, FOCAC provides a useful framework for the re-industrialization of Africa to boost its capacity to respond to diseases.

Kagwanja revealed that when COVID-19 struck, Chinese manufacturers moved to Africa to help solve supply chain problems experienced from January.

He noted that China and Africa have since cooperated in research and local production of protective equipment among other medical fields.

“Solidarity is now needed in training medical professionals and caregivers and to reverse the impact of brain drain,” Kagwanja said.

He noted that China and Africa need to align responses to COVID-19 to the continent’s strategic framework, the Africa Union Agenda 2063.

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The expert added that FOCAC will be key in ushering Africa to a new public health order under which it can effectively combat diseases.

“Emphasis will be on enhancing the capacity of African nations for testing COVID-19 and protection of medical personnel,” Kagwanja said.

He noted that international solidarity to contain COVID-19 and future diseases demands the reinvigoration of efforts to promote multilateralism, now under attack from populism, isolationism, protectionism and other anti-globalism trends.

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