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There’s no such thing as just ‘following the science’ – coronavirus advice is political

Scientific models are estimates, not oracles. Scientists can tell politicians the conditions under which their models are likely to work, but they are not responsible for creating those conditions. Blaming epidemiologists for the consequences of the government’s Covid-19 strategy is like blaming climate scientists for not preventing the climate crisis. Scientists can provide evidence, but acting on that evidence requires political will.

Focusing attention only on one element in this chain – “the science” – eschews questions of political responsibility. How science is turned into policy depends upon political and economic calculations, as well as on the moral and ideological commitments of politicians, political parties and policy advisers. It’s rarely, if ever, just about the “science”.

Changer !, par Pr Mary Teuw Niane

Cette pandémie du COVID19 devrait nous instruire : combien de millions de morts du covid19 a-t-on déjà prédit pour l’Afrique ? Cette prédiction macabre ne s’est pas estompée qu’on nous annonce des millions d’africains victimes de la famine ! Il est à parier que le marché mondial de la misère est très florissant sur le continent africain ! Les modèles endogènes sont niés, les réussites, en dehors des officines secrètes qui nous les imposent, sont déconstruites, les responsabilités individuelles sont bannies car, dit-on, relevant d’application de simples injonctions de forces extérieures.
Cette manière de voir infantilise les africains et l’Afrique. Elle est bénéfique pour tous ceux qui travaillent, avec beaucoup de moyens, de cerveaux et d’intelligences africains, patiemment, ouvertement et dans l’ombre, à la balkanisation des africains, des territoires, des pays et de l’Afrique.
Refusons d’être les véhicules inconscients de l’indignité africaine qui veut que derrière ou dans la tête de presque chaque africain, il y ait une personne étrangère qui soit la maîtresse de ses pensées ou de ses actes.
Unis et engagés, nous vaincrons.

African song “Pata Pata” revived to spread word on COVID-19.

The popular song by the late Grammy-award winning singer Miriam Makeba has been re-released with new lyrics to spread information about coronavirus to vulnerable communities Pata Pata means “touch touch” in Xhosa.The new version sung by Beninese artist Angelique Kidjo includes lyrics such as we need to keep our hands clean so no-Pata Pata. Don’t touch your face, keep distance please and no-Pata Pata.

Epidemics in Africa at the turn of 21st Century A continuous threat to people, a major challenge for health systems

Epidemics remain a major public health issue in Africa and the continent is the epicentre of health challenges of the 21st century. Significant grappling efforts are being made by countries and the international community, with encouraging results and sustained enthusiasm. The fight against epidemics is a significant component of African development. It is also important to note the presence of other humanitarian crises (armed conflicts, massive displacements of populations, terrorism) which increase the risks of epidemics and hinders their tackling. Nevertheless, African States should use the fight against epidemics as an opportunity to enhance their health systems as a whole and to advance towards the establishment of a universal health system, for a population deprived of basic health care cannot ensure its economic and social development.

YOUTH ON THE FRONTLINE AGAINST COVID-19. New section with videos

Sixteen includes now a new section with videos aimed at sharing stories of young women and men working on the frontlines against the pandemic. We start this new section with videos sent by young scientists and environmental activists who represent the Cuban chapter of the Caribbean Youth Network on Climate Change, launched at the Second UNESCO Science School for the Caribbean, last December in Havana, Cuba.

YOUTH ON THE FRONTLINE AGAINST COVID-19. The voice of youth and younger professionals must be represented in national plans for the post COVID-19 era

While we are recreating our economic engine in the immediate shadow of COVID-19 we cannot forget the real and pressing matters as it relates to climate change and how COVID-19 and the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian presents a glimpse of real and existential threats to the Bahamian people.
All development plans going forward be them health-related, education, environmental, or economic must take into account The UN Sustainable Development Goals. Of utmost priority must be to include the science of climate change to inform our national development plan.
Experts come from all backgrounds and academic credentials should not be the sole determining factor for economic innovation.

YOUTH ON THE FRONTLINE AGAINST COVID-19. Activities of the Caribbean Youth Network on Climate Change (CYNCC) in Cuba

Members of the Caribbean Youth Network on Climate Change (CYNCC) in Cuba have worked responsibly on the mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic. They conduct research and social awareness as part of the national programmes for the sanitary emergency of COVID-19.
They are supporting epidemiological inquiries in communities, providing social assistance to vulnerable population groups, and tasks related to patient care in isolation centres established by the Ministry of Health. Social studies have been carried out in the affected territories and in the most vulnerable sectors of the population for care and treatment, and a sociodemographic observatory has been established to monitor effects of COVID-19.
The Youth Technical Brigades, under the leadership of a member of the Network, supports productive work in key sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, to meet crucial local demands of food in times of pandemic and social isolation.

“COVID-19: Social science revisions, women and rights”, by Hania Sholkamy

The pandemic, and the global reactions to it, invite social science revisions rather than social science assertions. Lockdown is an experience that women in patriarchal societies knew well. The ways in which distancing further undermines the weak can enable thinking about equality and capability that factors in location and isolation. The gender aspects of this new world are troubling. The vast challenges and breakdown in education is well recognized by UNESCO but how are governments being advised on the moral and rights-based approach to dealing with these breakdowns in resource poor countries?

“Covid-19 vs. Intercultural Dialogue: What Impact?”, by Fethi Mansouri

COVID-19 presents a significant challenge to the intercultural dialogue (ICD) agenda. Intercultural dialogue has, as one of its core premises, contact between people. And the reason why we have contact as a core premise is because there is an assumption that when people get to know one another, prejudice might be reduced, and that issues of discrimination might disappear.

So COVID-19 and its emphasis on social distancing means that a lot of what we would like to achieve through intercultural dialogue, in particular in bringing people together, bringing communities together, bringing diverse communities together (and diversity here means diversity of ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, nationalities etc.) is being impacted because social distancing, whether it’s happening at the local level or whether it’s happening, as we know now, globally.

The other challenge to ICD of course, is that intercultural dialogue is in itself an essential tool that we will need in the post-COVID-19 environment. We will need to renegotiate a new global compact, a new social contract, and I think dialogue will have to play a key role in that. So it is being perhaps compromised right now but it has a big role to play in the post-COVID-19 world that will emerge

Open letter from African intellectuals to leaders over COVID-19

The threats that are hanging over the African continent with regards to the spread of COVID-19 demand our individual and collective attention. The situation is critical. Yet this is not about mitigating another ‘African’ humanitarian crisis but to diffuse the potentially damaging effects of a virus that has shaken the global order and put under question the bases of our living-together.
Our belief is that ’emergency’ cannot and should not constitute a mode of governance. We must instead be seized by the real urgency, which is to reform public policy, to make them work in favor of African populations and according to African priorities. In short, it is imperative to put forth the value of every human being regardless of status, over and beyond any logic of profit-making, domination or power capture.
The challenge for Africa is no less than the restoration of its intellectual freedom and a capacity to create – without which no sovereignty is conceivable.
We no longer have a choice: we need a radical change in direction. Now is the time!

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