A better Covid way – immediate benefits that run deep into the future
I think there is a better way for Namibia to handle the COVID-19 pandemic than the current lockdowns in place. A lockdown in a country where such a large part of the population lives from hand to mouth in informal housing is not practical.
But there are a few facts that set Namibia apart from other countries and can also set us apart in our response:
1. Very small, sparse population
2. Very young population. 94% of Namibia’s population is under the age of 60.
This crisis can be put to good use. Let it be the catalyst to build healthcare facilities and improve sanitation.
The risk of letting the infection spread without any response is the burden on a healthcare system, including putting the lives of healthcare workers at risk. The biggest problem is not a large loss of life in the general population – especially in such a young population as Namibia – but the skewed large risk to nurses and doctors.
Rather than instituting lockdown and trying to put in place an economic rescue plan by a government that has very little resources to do so, I suggest that a better response would be to launch a very strong healthcare approach which will have advantages not only now, but far into the future.
1. Field hospitals in all the regions. Rather than having only a friendly conversation with China over the phone, get the builders of the Wuhan hospital to Namibia to set up hospitals in each region. It will be easier to get funding for specific projects like these from the international community and the hospitals will benefit the communities long into the future.
2. Procure the best protective equipment for healthcare staff that money can buy. Ensure that the staff working with these patients are adequately protected.
3. Provide sanitation to informal communities. Funding for this is also much easier to raise and can be seen by the US$121 million than was already received from the AFDB for water and sanitation responses in this crisis.
This way, by responding with tangible infrastructure and targeted operations, Namibia can benefit from the pandemic, instead of locking down an economy already in peril. It will also contribute to herd immunity which will protect the population in future outbreaks. The above responses will cost much less than N$8.1 billion and can have lasting value.
* Panacea is the Nom de Plume of a local financial analyst.