Coronavirus shutdowns keep African elite from seeking medical care abroad

FOX – The Associated Press | In this Aug. 19, 2017, file photo released by the Nigeria State House, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, center, walks upon his arrival at the airport in Abuja, Nigeria, after returning from more than three months in London for medical treatment. The coronavirus pandemic could narrow one gaping inequality in Africa, where some heads of state and other elite jet off to Europe or Asia for health care unavailable in their nations but as global travel restrictions tighten, they might have to take their chances at home. (Sunday Aghaeze/Nigeria State House via AP, File)

Africa’s coronavirus travel ban is making it difficult for rulers and rich people to fly abroad for emergency medical care, as they’ve done in the past.

For years, leaders from Benin to Zimbabwe have received medical care outside of Africa while their own poorly funded health systems limp from crisis to crisis, The Associated Press reports.

The practice is so notorious that a South African health minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, a few years ago scolded, “We are the only continent that has its leaders seeking medical services outside the continent, outside our territory. We must be ashamed.”

But that option could be narrowing as 30 of Africa’s 57 international airports have closed or severely limited flights, the AP reports.


Perhaps “COVID-19 is an opportunity for our leaders to reexamine their priorities,” said Livingstone

Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, file photo, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, right, sits with his Deputy Constantino Chiwenga, left, during a Heroes’ Day event in Harare, Zimbabwe. The coronavirus pandemic could narrow one gaping inequality in Africa, where some heads of state and other elite jet off to Europe or Asia for health care unavailable in their nations but as global travel restrictions tighten, they might have to take their chances at home. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)

Sewanyana of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, which has long urged African countries to increase health care spending.


The grounding of Africa’s wealthy comes with the World Health Organization warning of an “imminent surge” of COVID-19 cases in Africa.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivered the warning in a teleconference with African heads of states, the New York Post reported Saturday.

Africa has more than 7,700 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with South Africa one of the hardest-hit countries, according to the paper.

A frequent overseas traveler, Cameroon’s 87-year-old leader, President Paul Biya, faces rising criticism over his public absence since the virus spread to his country. Cases in Cameroon lept Friday to over 500, the second-most in the sub-Saharan region after South Africa.

While travel restrictions have grounded the merely wealthy, political analyst Alex Rusero said a determined African leader probably could still find a way to go abroad for care.


“They are scared of death so much they will do everything within their disposal, even if it’s a private jet to a private hospital in a foreign land,” said Rusero, who is based in Zimbabwe, whose late President Robert Mugabe often sought treatment in Asia.

Perhaps nowhere is the situation bleaker than in Zimbabwe, where the health system has collapsed. Even before the pandemic, patients’ families were often asked to provide essentials like gloves and clean water. Doctors reported using bread bags to collect patients’ urine.

Zimbabwe’s vice president, Constantino Chiwenga, departed last month for unrelated medical treatment in China, as the outbreak eased in that country. Zimbabwe closed its borders days later after its first virus death.

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  1. And they end up, dying afterall, in spite of this wonderful outside expertise.
    Sad, that they squander the country`s monies, with impunity.

  2. Well, CORONOVIRUS inadvertently becomes the great democratic equalizer, providing the much desired level-playing field after all. Should welcoming coronavirus be the new patriotism then????? What a dark twist!

  3. Poetic justice. Build hospitals in your countries, NO! Build knowledge-based economies, NO! Industralise your economies, NO! Now we are facing a situation where the countries we depend on have prioritised themselves. If we can’t get supplies can we manufacture them? NO! We can’t even manufacture a syringe. China is what it is today because she had the vision to create a self-reliant economy that is now proving wrong the western negative propaganda of her, by how they have effectively managed to keep the coronovirus pandemic down. They are now supplying these supposedly great and amazing countries with equipment. Whether they are not reporting false numbers as some claim, China should serve a role model of the type of economic development Africa needs.

    • I am reading an 1849 book by FF Forbes when he visited the slave King, Gezo, of Dahomey in present day Benin. He describes the agricultural practice of what he termed the primitive people of Dahomey, as comparable to that of the Chinese. He would be speechless if he was to be brought back to life today and to see where the Chinese are and that Africans have hardly moved forward at all. Although the loss of African labour force as slaves and the systematic export of hard currency in the form of gold and silver from Africa, in exchange for the worthless cowries, a major soft currency across Africa, explain why we lost our wealth and purcahse power, certainly the ingenuity and patriotism of Chinese leaders is the vision of the new China.

      • Nations in Africa are fairly young. China, France or the US 60 years after their independence weren’t what they are today, they all went through hardship, corruption, dictatorship we are experiencing today, even worst. Like everything on earth nations need time to mature. So it’s quite unfair to compare coconut with papaya.

        • Hi James, I am reading this book by FF Forbes, who visited the slave King of Dahomey, now Benin, in 1849 where he describes the advanced agricultural practice of the natives as comparable to the Chinese. Where are the Chinese today, where are we? At the time of independence, several African countries were better off than many Asian countries, including even China. Where’re we today, where’s China. If you want to understand how economically advanced Africa was dating back to the 14th century, please read Toby Green’s new book: A FISTFUL OF SHELLS. Lack of industriousness in Africa is a recent invention due to the inbalance of trade resulting from slavery and the loss of the value of the cowrie currency. I point you to Rwanda, take Botswana, what makes them different? CMR is a bigger economy

        • South Korea was colonised until late 1945 by Japan. That is only 15 years difference compared with the independence of most African countries. Today look at S. Korea! Can you swear that in 15 years these African countries will reach the level of S. Korea? No way!!!

    • If the Chinese could help teach these African crooks how they handle corruption instead of taking advantage of their corrupt tendencies, that will just be enough.

  4. EYALLOW,,,, this attitude of pointing fingers at african leaders in all discussions shows that you do not understand that we are in a war dating five hundred with the aryan world.china won military confrontation against aryan bandits, which explains the patriotism of exceptional leaders like mao and ding xiaoping. If UM NYOBE had won military confrontation against the enemy becoming president. He should have imposed the top down system of economic transformation we saw in china. But since we lost the war, and ignorant muslim ahijo imposed as president.that approach was impossible because ahijo was nothing but an extention of the enemy. This situation needed a reformulation of strategy. Under American occupation japan did this and was successful.

  5. What we should have done in the sixties and should do now is forgetting about leadership and concentrating first on agriculture transformation.improving production methods which leads to higher yields per hectare.secondly concentrating on short season crops with high value, less labour intensive like, canola, soy beans, sesame, barely,etc. With this crops, it is possible to make four harvest a year with an irrigation system instead of growing coffee and cocoa that only has one harvest with no posdibility of creating secondary industries. But with the above crops, the possibility of creating a chain of products through transformation in small industries is is in this process that jobs are also created and techical know how improved. We learn fast by doing.

  6. It is with money generated from these basic industries that we will import heavy machinery to move into real manufacturing since our agriculture will be capable of producing huge quontity of linen the main raw material used in the clothing industry, our cotton can then to transformed to cloths and exported drawing in hard currency that can then be used to build steel mills essential in building machines, cars, etc.for example mbengwi council should have farms where crops are grown and transformed in its own industries.a developmental system of public administration is what we need, not that base on taxe collection as copied from is with money that we will offset power balance now against us and install more patriotic leaders we must have trained in schools.

  7. without Usa investment in south korea they would have been just as poor as some of those communist asian countries..Usa needed s. Korea to observe their north korean brothers

    • Gikpokpok, it wasn’t only that, it was also the determination, cooperation,inclusiveness and hardwork of the people and their government that brought them to the level they’re today.

  8. China, Korea and even Rwanda are developing positively because their Presidents invested taxpayers Money wisely. The Presidents did not use taxpayers Money to rent FIFTY Rooms in Intercontinental Hotelin Geneva.
    Ahidjo handed a PEACEFUL and RICH Country to Biya. The latter has tranformed it to a HIGHLY INDEBTED POOR COUNTRY and an ISLAND OF WAR.
    Any objective-thinking Person will agree with me that the dictatorship of Biya is the worst Thing that destroyed the once rich and peaceful Country.

    • **** BREAKING NEWS ****

      News #1:

      “Ambazonia Restoration Forces led by General Animal Pikin and General Papi attacked a French Cameroon terrorist post in the Manyu county village of Ntenako. Scores of the terrorists were neutralized. Their bodies were taken to the Mamfe mortuary by survivors who cried like babies”.

      News #2:

      “At least eight Cameroonian soldiers have been ambushed and killed in the Far North region by elements of Boko Haram.
      A source says the incident happened yesterday about 7pm at a bridge called Zigague. In the process, two soldiers were kidnapped and close to ten killed.
      The insurgents equally attacked other villages causing enormous damages. Bodies of victims have been evacuated to Mora”.

    • Well said !!! Very sad, but pure fact.

      I was in Cameroon early last year and saw the number of Cameroonians both Male and female at the regional hospital in Bamenda from different higher institutions of learning, partaking in their academic internships and it prompted me to ask myself, whether if these numbers which were quite high as such only in that hospital, then what about the whole of Mezam division, the other divisions in the North west, South West, and Cameroon as a whole? These are people struggling and even if employed in the end, will be paid peanuts as salaries., after spending alot on their studies, Then you can imagine how corruption has really dealt a horrible blow on Cameroonians, and it’ll take perhaps our second generations to sort this out properly.

  9. It is sad and ridiculous that doctors, teachers and professionals of various fields in Cameroon are paid just one third of what their professional colleagues earn in Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Senegal,…
    Can anyone place their hand on the chest and swear that those other countries are three times richer than the Golden Triangle?

  10. Camerbeleiver (Colby )

    When you left cameroon after (soit- disant) spending 7 years in (centre pasteur) it was to seek better pastures now that the above countries are better than cameroon what are you still doing in the U.S.????

    • @John Dinga asked an honest question, please ask the question {if that’s your answer, then well well… no comment}.
      Still I do not have an answer, I defer those who might have travel/visit those countries}

      To the topic, Corona or not, we still much to do in Africa.
      Hope Corona will be on eye opener for those governing to start really governing (instead of pretending as they have always done)

      • I meant please answer the question.

        • Usually I let such stupid remarks to lie there for all to see. Why waste your precious time for one who has no intention to learn anything? Our world will always have empty vessels and their loud noises. Our world will always have idiots who fix their attention on the finger of the priest instead of what the finger is pointing to.
          He thinks he is smart.

  11. Time Will Tell

    We Africans have many problems. We have inferiority complex, thinking anything West is superior even their skin, thus bleaching monkeys everywhere. Most, if not all of our leaders are accomplices to our woes. Despite the outcry against Covdi-19 vaccine test in Africa, it will still go on unabated, cos some have already received bribes. Most belong, meaning they are serving their Western masters as slaves. All our inventors, engineers and visionaries are silenced our whisked to the west where they never returned. The crumbs we have remaining is squandered through corruption and embezzlement. We need a multifaceted approach to solve our problems cos they are so many and complex ranging from spiritual, psychological, political, social, economical, historical, to pure stupidity.

  12. Camerbeleiver (Colby )

    Noise maker…

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