In Africa, the COVID-19 virus has spread to dozens of countries within weeks. Governments and health authorities across the continent are striving to limit widespread infections. We know that the risk of dying from COVID-19 increases with age – with most of the deaths observed in people older than 60, and especially those with chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Sub-Saharan Africa’s older population is the fastest growing in the world, with around 46 million older adults today. These people are at greater risk of catching coronavirus, threatening their lives. The impact will affect not only them but their families and communities.
With some countries, such as Malawi, appearing to be spared at the start of the epidemic, cases are now growing rapidly every day. An already poor continent, many countries are already battling war, climate change, and the ongoing impacts of other humanitarian crises, such as last year’s Cyclone Idai which wiped out cities, leaving millions without homes, food, and clean water.
Whilst we are seeking to engage governments and other humanitarian agencies on how to best protect its older populations, governments face several challenges with delivering sufficient supplies, health and care services which lack the capacity to deal with such an overwhelming crisis, and a lack of awareness among older people and care providers on how to prevent the spread of the disease.
Age International is working in countries including Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania to educate, prevent and fight the spread of COVID-19 to help save lives in Africa.
While Age UK is supporting older people in the UK, Age International is working to reach those in high-risk areas in low-income countries where healthcare systems are already severely stretched.