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News release

Africans call for greater investment in preparedness for future health emergencies, Afrobarometer surveys show

14 Jun 2024
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News release
Key findings
  • One in seven respondents (14%) say that they or someone in their household became sick or tested positive with COVID-19 (Figure 1).
  • About twice as many (29%) say that a household member lost a job, a business, or a primary source of income due to COVID-19 (Figure 2).
  • Fewer than one in four respondents (23%) say their household received pandemic related assistance from the government (Figure 3).
  • And only 27% think that government assistance was distributed fairly. This perception was much higher among households with no experience of lived poverty than among those who experienced high levels of material deprivation (38% vs. 21%) (Figure 4).
  • Most Africans say that “a lot” (46%), “some” (22%), or “a little” (12%) of the funds intended for the pandemic response were lost to corruption.
  • But overall, two-thirds (66%) of Africans say their government managed the pandemic response “fairly well” or “very well.”
  • About half (51%) of Africans believe that their government is “somewhat” or “very” prepared for a future public health emergency (Figure 5).
  • Almost six in 10 (58%) say their government should invest more in preparations for a future health emergency like COVID-19, even if it means fewer resources are available for other health services (Figure 6).
  • Two-thirds (67%) of Africans endorse the use of the military or police to enforce public health mandates during a pandemic, but fewer than half think such an emergency justifies postponing elections (49%) or censoring the media (42%).

Only about half of Africans think their governments are prepared for a potential future  pandemic, and a majority say additional investments in such preparations are needed, the  latest Afrobarometer Pan-Africa Profile shows. 

The findings, based on 53,444 face-to-face interviews in 39 African countries, show that about  one in seven households experienced a case of COVID-19, while more than a quarter  suffered the loss of a primary source of income. Despite the severe economic effects of the  pandemic, fewer than a quarter of households received pandemic-related assistance from  their government. Most respondents say that the distribution of relief was unfair and that  corruption claimed funds intended for the pandemic response.  

Even so, a majority of Africans say their government managed the pandemic well.  

The findings also show that in times of crisis, Africans are more likely to endorse the use of the  police or military to enforce public health mandates than they are to accept postponement  of elections and censorship of the media.