By Ousman A. Marong
The President of Journalists’ International Forum for Migration (JIFORM), Ajibola Abayomi, has called on African leaders to look for a rapid solution for Africa’s health care delivery system beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a New Year message delivered Friday, Mr. Abayomi said Africa being the continent with the 4th largest number of global emigrants pegged at 25 million in 2017 within and outside the region, must wake up to the reality of evolving a sustainable health care solution to the rampaging Covid-19 to save its citizens and guarantee the future of its young population to further reap the fortunes of migration.
According to him, with 19 of the world’s 20 youngest countries being in Africa, the data from the United Nations’ World Population Prospects in 2019 confirmed that Africa’s youthful population has tipped the median age of just 15.2-years-old.
He revealed that the West African country of Niger has the world’s highest birth rate, with every woman having an average of 7.2 children over the course of her lifetime.
Abayomi further revealed that the population of West Africa is set to nearly triple by 2050 while Mali and Chad would be among the top three, with median ages of 16.3 and 16.6, respectively.
“We must not risk the life of the people. There may be a plant which could be the solution to Covid-19 and other health challenges in the African bush, but where are the brains to tap the resources? Over 80% of the herbal roots being used for orthodox drugs are from Africa, ironically less than 2% profit returns to the continent. Governments are not encouraging the right investment to bring about research. With all the natural resources, when would Africa have its own health care institute?” he asked
Ajibola said to realize the health objective, time has come for the African Union (AU) under the new leadership of President Felix Tshisekedi of Democratic Republic of Congo, the Chairperson of the AU for 2021 to serve as a catalyst to propel African leaders to make the New Year a season of solution by funding formidable health research institutes.
He further stated that records show that over 19 million people migrate between the African countries contributing to the surge in global 272 million migrants enhancing integration, thus their wellbeing is germane to the economic progression of the continent. He said investment in the health sector was long overdue to replace the over reliance on the support and dictates from the Western world and the other continents.
“It is not enough to claim that Artemisia annua, a plant used to develop Covid-19 organics by Madagascar grows in Nigeria and other African countries, but what did those nations do with it? The AU in 2020 should have upgraded the Madagascar effort to produce a cure for Covid-19 with a team of medical experts as a solution for all if one is available;” he asserted.
He said it is an indication that real investment is needed in the health sector, notwithstanding, Africa cannot fold its arms and wait to reap from the benefits of brainstorming leading to discoveries of various coronavirus vaccines being launched in China, Europe and other parts of the world without attempting its own home solution.
Therefore, Mr, Abayomi added that in as much as the continent is lucky to have escaped the baseless prediction by the likes of Bill Gates and others that over three million Africans would die before 2021 from Covid-19 infections, yet we must know that the danger is not completely averted, hunger will continue to kill more than any disease as remittances by migrants has been predicted by the UN to shrink by 14% in 2021 compared to 2019.
“Remittance flows to low and middle-income countries were projected to fall by 7 percent, to $508 billion in 2020, followed by a further decline of 7.5 percent, to $470 billion in 2021,” he concluded.