UN Secretary-General Calls for Solidarity with Africa
At the launch of United Nations (UN) policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 in Africa the UN Secretary General António Guterres called for global solidarity with Africa. Analysis shows that at least three of the seven urgent challenges outlined by the UN are directly related to alcohol.
Mr. Guterres commended Africa on their fast response to the pandemic. African nations have been advancing the well-being of all in the continent in recent years and developing rapidly. Nevertheless, despite the recent economic growth, digital revolution and agreed free-trade area, the pandemic threatens African progress.
According to Mr. Guterres the pandemic will aggravate long-standing inequalities and heighten hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to disease. He brought to notice that already, demand for Africa’s commodities, tourism and remittances are declining. The opening of the trade zone has been pushed back – and millions could be pushed into extreme poverty.
Together with the African Union, most African countries have moved rapidly to deepen regional coordination, deploy health workers, and enforce quarantines, lockdowns and border closures. They are debunking rumours to overcome mistrust of government and health workers.
The UN is providing continued support to the region in terms resources.
The policy brief issued highlights a spectrum of urgent challenges for the African continent. The UN list a number of major challenges, that require urgent international action. These challenges are:
- To strengthen Africa’s health systems,
- To maintain food supplies,
- To avoid a financial crisis,
- To support education,
- To protect jobs,
- To keep households and businesses afloat, and
- To cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings.
Analysis shows that at least three of these seven urgent challenges are directly related to alcohol.
- On societal level, alcohol harm is of epidemic proportions in African countries and has been straining health systems for many years, draining scarce and precious resources.
- On community and grass-roots level, alcohol harm jeopardizes water and food security – both through pollution, land degradation and waste in the resource intense alcohol production and through loss of human capital due to alcohol-related problems, undermining communities’ resilience and self-sufficiency.
- On household level, alcohol harm drains scarce resources and fuels the visious cycle of unsustainable spending on alcohol, ill-health, loss of resources, unhealthy coping mechanisms for external shocks (such as the current crisis), and more alcohol harm – pushing and keeping households and communities in poverty.
Several more action points called for by the Secretary General are:
- Quick, affordable access for Africans to an eventual vaccine,
- A global response package amounting to at least 10% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product. For Africa, that means more than $200 billion as additional support from the international community,
- A comprehensive debt framework,
- Sustaining efforts in African countries to prevent gun violence and violent extremism,
- Centralizing women in the response. Such as through a stimulus package providing cash to women,
- Empowering African youth, and
- Protecting human rights of all.
The Secretary General stressed global solidarity with the African region is imperative now and in recovering from COVID-19 public health crisis.
Ending the pandemic in Africa is essential for ending it across the world,” said António Guterres, UN Secretary General, as per the UN.
For further reading:
Download (PDF): “Policy Brief: Impact of COVID-19 in Africa.” (updated May 20, 2020)
Download book (PDF): “ALCOHOL OBSTACLE TO DEVELOPMENT. How Alcohol Affects the Sustainable Development Goals”