In the 46 countries of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) there are just over 1 billion people (14 percent of the world’s population), the vast majority in dire poverty which has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Nigeria in February 2020, and today it has spread to all the countries in the SSA, according to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – Global Health Research Unit on Health System Strengthening in sub-Saharan Africa, King’s College, London

“A perfect storm is brewing, with high potential for COVID-19 transmission and very limited capability for effective clinical response,” states the NIHR, which has identified the five main reasons for this “perfect storm.”

The NIHR notes that the causes for the devastating impact in SSA countries are:

Poverty — with a high proportion of citizens living in “absolute poverty” who are “inadequately housed living in overcrowded conditions with unimproved water supplies and sanitation”.

Governments — which lack the ability “to respond robustly to a health emergency” and are “compromised by limited resources”.

Weak health systems — 41 SSA countries are in the bottom fifth of countries worldwide ranked by healthcare access and quality as “many governments in the region have underinvested in healthcare”.

Inpatient care — countries in the SSA lack the hospital beds necessary for severe cases requiring hospital admission, and critical cases requiring intensive care; and

Burden of underlying disease — which is much higher across SSA than in other world regions, “particularly among children and young adults. Of particular relevance are chronic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, as well as undernutrition which weakens immunity.”

At Bread and Water for Africa® for more than two decades we have been working to help alleviate all of those issues in countries including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa thanks to our supporters.

For example, we have, and are today, helping women farmers in Sierra Leone escape poverty and become self-sufficient by enabling them to grow crops on their small tracts of land to feed their families and sell at local markets.

In Cameroon, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda we are digging wells and protecting streams from contamination ensuring that thousands in remote villages have safe, clean water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing.

In Ethiopia and Sierra Leone, we are working with our partners who operate hospitals and clinics to provide them with the medicines and medical supplies, and equipment they need to treat the sick and injured.

None of what we do would be possible without the generous gifts from thousands of compassionate Americans from across the country who support Bread and Water for Africa® programs which have prevented and treated illnesses thereby saving the lives of untold thousands of children, young mothers, elders and so many others who would have surely perished needlessly.