Access to Lifesaving Medical Resources for African Countries: COVID-19 Testing and Response, Ethics, and Politics

The Lancet, Vol. 395, Issue 10238, Pp. 1735-1738, 2020

5 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2020

See all articles by Matthew Kavanagh

Matthew Kavanagh

Georgetown University

Ngozi A. Erondu

Centre for Universal Health, Chatham House

Oyewale Tomori

Nigeria Academy of Sciences

Victor Dzau

The National Academies - Institute of Medicine (IOM)

Emelda A. Okiro

Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) - Kemri-Wellcome Trust Research Programme

Allan A. Maleche

Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network

Ifeyinwa C. Aniebo

Health Strategy and Delivery Foundation

Umunya Rugege

Section 27

Charles B. Holmes

Georgetown/John Hopkins Program on Law and Health

Lawrence O. Gostin

Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law

Date Written: May 29, 2020

Abstract

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has revealed how strikingly unprepared the world is for a pandemic and how easily viruses spread in our interconnected world. A governance crisis is unfolding alongside the pandemic as health officials around the world compete for access to scarce medical supplies. As governments of African countries, and those in low-income and middle-income countries around the world, seek to avoid potentially catastrophic epidemics and learn from what has worked in other countries, testing and other medical resources are of concern. With accelerating spread, funding is urgently needed. Yet even where there is enough money, many African health authorities are unable to obtain the supplies needed as geopolitically powerful countries mobilise economic, political, and strategic power to procure stocks for their populations.

We have seen this before. In the AIDS pandemic lifesaving diagnostics and drugs came to many African countries long after they were available in Europe and North America. In 2020, this situation can be avoided. Although health system weakness remains acute in many places, investments by national governments, the African Union, and international initiatives to tackle AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, polio, and post-Ebola global health security have built important public health capacities. Global leaders have an ethical obligation to avoid needless loss of life due to the foreseeable prospect of slow and inadequate access to supplies in Africa.

Keywords: global health law, infectious diseases, COVID-19

Suggested Citation

Kavanagh, Matthew and Erondu, Ngozi A. and Tomori, Oyewale and Dzau, Victor and Okiro, Emelda A. and Maleche, Allan A. and Aniebo, Ifeyinwa C. and Rugege, Umunya and Holmes, Charles B. and Gostin, Lawrence O., Access to Lifesaving Medical Resources for African Countries: COVID-19 Testing and Response, Ethics, and Politics (May 29, 2020). The Lancet, Vol. 395, Issue 10238, Pp. 1735-1738, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3614035

Matthew Kavanagh

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Ngozi A. Erondu

Centre for Universal Health, Chatham House

10 St James's Square
London, SW1Y 4LE
United Kingdom

Oyewale Tomori

Nigeria Academy of Sciences ( email )

Victor Dzau

The National Academies - Institute of Medicine (IOM) ( email )

500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

Emelda A. Okiro

Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) - Kemri-Wellcome Trust Research Programme

Kilifi
Kenya

Allan A. Maleche

Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network

Kenya

Ifeyinwa C. Aniebo

Health Strategy and Delivery Foundation

Nigeria

Umunya Rugege

Section 27

South Africa

Charles B. Holmes

Georgetown/John Hopkins Program on Law and Health ( email )

Baltimore, MD 21205-1996
United States

Lawrence O. Gostin (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202-662-9038 (Phone)
202-662-9055 (Fax)

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