In an interview with FRANCE 24, former Liberian president Ellen JohnsonSirleaf spoke about the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences for Africa. Sirleaf, who was president during the 2014 deadly Ebola epidemic, expressed concern about the coming economic crisis. She also called on world leaders not to neglect the fight against malaria.
Speaking at FRANCE 24 from Monrovia, former Liberian President Ellen JohnsonSirleaf said that Covid-19 is currently less present in Africa partly because of the climate, perhaps because of the genes but certainly because the continent is used to such pandemics and most African countries have quickly taken decisive action.
Sirleaf said that lockdown and isolation measures are “necessary” to stop the spread of the virus, including in Africa, although at some point they need to be relaxed to allow the economy to recover.
She told FRANCE 24 that the Liberian government has responded well to the pandemic and said that President George Weah’s recent decision to reopen religious services should be coordinated with civil society in order to allay fears that it may help spread the virus.
The former Liberian president said that although the health crisis is bad, she was concerned about the magnitude of the coming economic crisis and urged the international community to show solidarity with Africa. She noted that while solidarity was much better now than during the Ebola epidemic in 2014 when she was in power, the Liberian economy has still not fully recovered from Ebola.
She said the cancellation of Africa’s debt should certainly be on the table.
Finally, she expressed concern that the focus on Covid-19 could cause an upsurge in deaths from other infectious diseases, primarily malaria. Sirleaf called on world leaders not to overlook this deadly disease. “Watch out for malaria! He’s killing. He needs financial support, he needs technical support, he needs the vaccine, he needs eradication. Please. Let’s fight the Covid-19 virus. Let’s fight also malaria, “she urged.
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