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Rev. Jackson, Rainbow PUSH Coalition seek ventilators, urgent assistance for Africa

Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition are calling for sufficient numbers of ventilators and urgently needed assistance to be sent to Africa as the coronavirus pandemic spreads to every corner of the globe and to Africa, one of the poorest continents, which must not be forgotten, according to Jackson.

“Africa deserves and needs our support as the virus begins to spread within the continent with an impact that will be more devastating due to poor health infrastructures,” he said.

“The continent is our original source of the slave trade that began 246 years ago. Africans were traded for gold, diamonds, sugar, salt, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite, silver, petroleum and cocoa beans.”

Africa is an American ally and despite our difficult battle with coronavirus and its devastating impact, we should be more supportive to Africa during these troubling and deadly times by providing Africa with ventilators and other vital medical needs explained Jackson.

A partial list of available ventilators versus the populations emphasizes the importance and gravity of Africa’s situation.

  • Sierra Leone has 13 ventilators for 7.65 million people.
  • Central African Republic has 3 ventilators for 4.6 million people.
  • Liberia has 3 ventilators for 4.8 million people.
  • South Sudan has 4 ventilators for 11 million people.

These and all countries of Africa need immediate U.S. assistance Jackson noted, adding “that is why as a member of the Advocacy Network of Africa (ADNA) we fully support the group’s appeal for urgent assistance.”

Below is a request by the Advocacy Network of Africa for adequate funding needed for these dire and life-threatening COVID-19 times:

  1. Massively increase the current $100 million pledge by Congress to $300 million in order to boost the Africa COVID-19 capabilities of the African Union, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and UNICEF.

African governments are responding with different forms of fiscal stimulus but there is a shortfall of $100 billion. Dedicated funds can provide a unified and coordinated response to the needs of all African countries through programs that:

  • Expedite the delivery of medical support, including 1) Personal Protective Equipment, 2) test kits and 3) ventilators; 4) adequate wages for medical professionals and other essential workers on the front line of this pandemic; and 5) air-bridges or hubs across Africa to ensure the delivery of essential products and personnel.
  • Support trusted civil society organizations to provide essential services to vulnerable populations with particular attention to rural areas, camps for refugees and internally displaced persons and informal settlements, beyond the reach of existing services.
  1. Join Pope Francis’ call for a “Global Jubilee” for African debt forgiveness. Support debt relief measures for African countries amid the COVID-19 crisis so that they can prioritize spending on life-saving measures instead of debt repayments.
  2. Collaborate in resource mobilization efforts to build a sustainable global health infrastructure capable of managing the COVID-19 and future pandemics in Africa. Consider a Global Health “Marshall Plan” that ensures a U.S. commitment to building such a sustainable health infrastructure.
  3. Recognize the connection of climate change and pandemics. Both are affecting the health and well being of people and the planet. Invest in early warning systems and adaptation efforts to address disease challenges posed by a warming planet as part of a bold climate strategy. Fund efforts to spur renewable energy, particularly for vulnerable last-mile communities in Africa and around the world.
  4. Ensure U.S. foreign assistance is grounded in human rights-based approaches that uphold the highest standards of accountability, transparency and timely information disclosures.
  5. End the deportations and the use of immigration detention centers in the United States and release non-violent people who are incarcerated in jails, prisons and detention centers to slow the spread of the virus.
  6. Support the UN Secretary General’s call for an immediate global ceasefire so people in war-torn regions can access life-saving aid to fight the coronavirus. COVID-19 is a good indication for how interlinked we all are.

Responding to the current crisis and investing in initiatives to prevent and mitigate future pandemics will not only be in Africa’s interest but will benefit the entire global community, including the United States.

“We look forward to working with you to implement these recommendations and anticipate seeing the United States act in a manner that is in keeping with the American people’s long-standing commitment to justice, human rights, health, and well being,” Jackson concluded.

The Advocacy Network on Africa (ADNA) is a non-partisan network of over 200 US- based organizations and scholars with programmatic focus on Africa/US-Africa policy.

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