Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed announced in a tweet on Sunday, March 15, 2020, that he has secured support from a Chinese businessman, Jack Ma to support Africa in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Acknowledging that material support coupled with enhanced knowledge is key to COVID-19 containment, Abiy disclosed that the package from Jack Ma which will benefit all African countries consists of testing kits, masks and guideline books on treatment methods against the spread of the virus.
“Great appreciation to Jack Ma for partnering with Ethiopia to distribute 10-20k corona testing kits per (African) country; more than 100k masks for each African country, and guideline books developed recently on how to treat patients with the virus,” Abiy stated.
The exact testing kit the Prime Minister announced is still uncertain because only laboratory tests are currently in use on the continent. However, the Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal has hinted that the rapid test kit will soon be rolled out.
Jack Ma’s support follows a report by the United Nations which suggested that poor countries, most of which are in Africa may be greatly affected if the coronavirus is rampant in their nations compared to their counterparts in developed countries. Validating this statement, Mami Mizutori, head of the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) said that even in developed countries, health services were under stress and did not have enough equipment to treat people in need as the numbers infected rose rapidly, which suggests that poorer countries may face double.
Mizutori reiterated that “if coronavirus expanded in poor countries, the economic impact on individuals would likely be greater as economic losses would be a bigger share of gross domestic product.” And that although COVID-19 affects everyone irrespective of their economic status, “people living in poverty and lacking health insurance or secure employment cannot ‘afford’ to be sick,” Mizutori said.
Nevertheless, with the slower spread of COVID-19 in Africa, it has spared the continent valuable time to take preventive measures against further expansion of the virus. With the contribution of Jack Ma into Africa, it will aid individual nations lacking in resources that will help combat, contain and reduce the spread of coronavirus in their countries.
Jack Ma, also recently donated a million face masks to the United States as part of the measures to help deal with the spreading virus which as of March 16, 2020, has about 167 414 cases worldwide.