One size fits all? The Africa COVID-19 challenge

Africa COVID-19 challenge

First published on April 14, 2020

With every corner of the world now impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, we can’t help but think about the effects on the poorer regions. African countries are struggling to control the COVID-19 outbreak in the face of higher rates of poverty and insufficient healthcare infrastructure.  Nearly half of Africans don’t have access to clean water and two-thirds lack access to sewage infrastructure, making measures such as washing hands and keeping surfaces clean simply not practical for too many people. In addition, many African countries experience significant shortages of trained healthcare workers. For example, Ivory Coast gears up for this crisis, with one of the lowest ratios of doctors per capita; the World Bank estimated only about 30 physicians per 100,000 people. Moreover, estimates report that Kenya only has less than 200 intensive care unit beds to serve a population of 50 million people.

Specialists recognize that small and informal businesses in Africa will be hit particularly hard, especially in urban areas, making lockdown initiatives even harder to implement and enforce. Experts stress the importance of timing and reiterate how devastating the next few weeks and months will be if we fail to act quickly and decisively, and in ways that work for Africa. As governments strive to balance healthcare access and economic preservation with limited resources, it’s clear that the private sector needs to embrace agility and step up.

KimboCare, a growing health-tech startup, is ahead of the game with its novel ‘health credits’ concept, which allows Africans to fund access to high-quality local care for their loved ones. The COVID-19 crisis in Africa has prompted us to expedite our growth timeline and expand services to help more people. Our network of pre-vetted, credible Africa-based care clinics is a lifesaving resource, and we’re putting it into action.

Users can now send free health credits to relatives and friends in Africa for COVID-19 related care. The COVID-19 health credits are available at absolutely no cost for the giver or receiver, and can be accessed immediately through the KimboCare website for a remote, carefully designed COVID-19 self-assessment and, as necessary, a scheduled appointment at one of our approved local clinics. Now, more than ever, access to credible health information and sound medical care is critical, especially for aging parents or those with chronic medical conditions. At KimboCare, we feel privileged to offer such access to communities in developing regions in a manner that adheres to social distancing requirements, minimizes transmission and keeps people safe.

All around the world, startups and innovative thinkers are stepping up to introduce out-of-the-box solutions. In many cases, businesses are forced to change and adapt overnight. At KimboCare, we have not hesitated to respond present, creating new offerings and launching COVID-19 prevention campaigns, and we will continue to be on the forefront of this health crisis for financially underserved communities. Needless to say, we are proud to lead this movement for the African people.

African populations have unique strengths, and it’s important to approach these challenging times with a sense of optimism. We are creative, resilient, and very young, especially compared to European countries that have seen the most COVID-19-related deaths. As a result of the ongoing crisis, Africans have the opportunity to leverage local talent and produce much-needed items at an affordable cost, including masks, disinfectant, and protective gear. COVID-19 prevention campaigns must be tailored to match local cultures and the traditions of African communities. Government mandates will only be successful when paired with well-rounded, custom-built campaigns that effectively teach protective hygiene rules.

COVID-19 presents an unprecedented threat to African communities, but also the opportunity for us to work together to promote real change. Talking about this disruptive crisis on social media is good, but talking is only the first step to stability. Now, it’s time to act. KimboCare stands out as more than just a digital startup with dreams of a sustainably empowered Africa; we are building real-world solutions to win over this pandemic and beyond.

Governments need to show more compassionate leadership throughout this crisis, steering away from cookie-cutter measures and focusing on context-based solutions for the wellbeing of African people. As individuals, we also have an important role to play, moving from reaction to action, to flatten the curve.

By Murielle Tiambo and Franck TiamboKimboCare Enthusiasts