Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

COVID-19 – It Is Real and What about the Situation in Africa?

October 8, 2020 · No Comments · COVID19, Uncategorized

By now, most every person around the world has heard the name coronavirus or COVID-19 or (one of my favorites) “the rona”. If someone has not heard of it, here is some decent information on the virus with some useful videos on what it is and how to stay safe. 

The coronavirus has changed the lives of people in areas such as school, work, and even the normal recreation activities that everyone are used to. And because of the social media/internet world we live in, information on the coronavirus is everywhere. From real information such as information from NIH and the CDC, questionable information from your family and friends on Facebook and Twitter (that they probably heard from your cousin’s half-brother’s friend’s grandma), to the ever present conspiracy theories going around. Whether or not people want to believe in the existence of the coronavirus, it is REAL. And the coronavirus is not just in the developed/high-income countries, it has spread to all over the world.

One area that experts were expecting to have high numbers is Africa. However, when the rest of the world was seeing high case numbers of coronavirus, Africa only had about 6,000 cases as of April 1st, 2020 with most of the countries having less than 100 cases (PreventEpidemics, 2020). These numbers are drastically different than the data from other countries and continents. To help put this into perspective, here are some other continents and their coronavirus case numbers for April 1st, 2020: in Europe there were 464,212 confirmed cases, in the Eastern Mediterranean region there were 54,281 confirmed cases, and in the Americas region there were 188,751 confirmed cases (WHO, 2020).











Shown above is the map from the WHO containing the coronavirus case numbers that were reported between March 26th ,2020 to April 1st, 2020. In contrast to other countries, Africa as a whole was more strict on their policies regarding social distancing, closing schools and workplaces, limiting travel, etc. In addition to the strict rules, differences in the populations in the individual countries play a role in the transmission of the coronavirus. Some examples of differences in the populations that would affect transmission levels are socioeconomic status, nutritional status, population density, and household size. Another potential reason that Africa has had much lower numbers than expected is the level of contact tracing. Many of the countries in Africa have already had some experience with contract tracing through other epidemics such as ebola and other infectious diseases. But there is always a potential for these reported numbers to not be accurate, not only in Africa but in any country. According to PreventEpidemics in 2020 “Among countries that do report testing data, there are generally lower rates of testing for countries in Africa compared to other countries”. Therefore, if there are not as many tests being conducted throughout countries in Africa as compared to those in other countries, there is a potential for the case numbers to be skewed. The number of cases in Africa could be underestimated. For more information on the coronavirus response and data on the coronavirus cases in Africa, please check out this awesome website here.

Overall, the pandemic has changed health and healthcare drastically across the world. Especially in the United States, healthcare has changed from in-person visits with a healthcare practitioner to a telehealth visit. There have been many positive and negative effects that vary greatly from person to person concerning this switch. For example, many of the large health insurance companies have begun to cover telehealth visits at 100% to their subscribers with no copay, therefore benefiting the patients to use this service. A potential major obstacle to telehealth visits for some people could be internet access or computer and internet access. In contrast though, most Americans have access to a computer/mobile phone with internet capabilities. For those healthcare practitioners/offices that cannot participate in telehealth visits such as chiropractors, oncology, allergist, etc. patient care has still continued on, just with a very different look than patients are used to. The chairs in the waiting room (if the waiting room is even open) are 6 feet apart, everyone is required to wear masks, cleaning of rooms and surfaces has increased drastically, and charting has been moved to 100% digital. Some of these changes are for the better and I hope will stay implemented even after the pandemic has “ended”. The current coronavirus pandemic has made everyone aware that the United States and arguably most countries across the world, were not and are not prepared for a pandemic and the associated burdens that it places on the healthcare world and the economic world. Here is to hoping that people learn something from this pandemic and we as a whole world are better prepared for the next one when it comes around. 


  • InTouch Technologies. (2020). 5 Things You Never Knew About Telehealth. Retrieved 2020, from
  • PreventEpidemics. Update on COVID-19 in Africa. (2020, September 02). Retrieved October 07, 2020, from
  • World Health Organization. (2020, April 1). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 72. Retrieved 2020, from


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