Updated: Jul 13
By Kaoutar Ait Lahaj
Friends of Europe invitation for the online debate
On the 24th of September, a debate about “Health, welfare, and prosperity: an EU-Africa partnership for a people-centered approach to human development” was held as part of the weekly virtual debates that Friends of Europe organized to strengthen the African-European relations. They invited decision-makers from both continents to set the partnership between Africa and Europe by understanding the long-term vision and the priorities of the new cooperation especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two continents have always had a common interest in collaborating to increase the pace in achieving the sustainable development global agenda. Even during the pandemic, they have decided to address the challenges together as COVID-19 revealed the fragility of health systems in both continents and the digitalization shift became a necessity in everyday life.
Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, stated that due to the pandemic, the economy has suffered, causing many people to lose their jobs and companies are being forced to file for bankruptcy. This has affected the lives of individuals by creating that sense of uncertainty and fear of the future. That is why Urpilainen suggested providing more opportunities and support for youth to help them overcome the crisis of COVID-19. She also mentioned the urgency of enhancing healthcare systems to face the current health crisis and even prepare to face another pandemic in the future.
Amira El Fadil, African Commissioner for Social Affairs, agreed with the previous statements and added her concerns about the infrastructure of the continent. She believes that Africa and Europe should respond to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic by uniting to create an anti-COVID strategy. Engaging experts, sharing experiences, and best practices are what will increase the unity and the solidarity between the two continents. The Commissioner concluded that fighting COVID-19 internally is not enough to end the pandemic as “Africa is not COVID-free until our neighbors are free too.”
Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health, stated that the pandemic has shifted the focus toward countries’ health systems which created the urge to work together to face the challenges. However, she questioned, what do the two continents need to have in order to tackle the pandemic together? As an answer, she suggested that Africa and Europe support each other to provide enough medical supplies and medications to help create a strong health system. More funds are needed to accelerate the creation of vaccination and increase the accessibility to medication and medical help, as there is still a long journey before the end of this pandemic.
While the COVID-19 crisis is impacting the economy of many countries including Morocco, the High Atlas Foundation ( HAF) is encouraging associations and individuals around the kingdom to invest in planting fruit trees as their personal businesses so that they can have additional income. Morocco’s national strategy in the face of this severe economic challenge is to invest heavily in the agricultural sector. These essential actions will assist farming communities in creating and joining cooperatives that foster job opportunities, and with HAF we especially partner with women’s groups. These efforts also reduce the impact of climate change, and therefore promote a healthy environment for our future generations.
HAF has also supported families in rural areas by distributing everyday necessities, masks, and also hand Hygiene supplies to help decrease the impact of the pandemic especially after many families lost their jobs. By providing access to hand sanitizers and masks, HAF encouraged the citizens to follow the instruction of the Ministry of Health without any difficulties or sacrifices that can affect their health and eventually their financial status. It’s collaborative initiatives, such as these, that will help combat the COVID-19 pandemic successfully.