Former Liberian president Sirleaf: 'Let's fight Covid-19, let's also fight malaria'


In an interview with FRANCE 24, former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf discussed the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences on Africa. Sirleaf, who was president during the deadly Ebola outbreak of 2014, voiced concern about the forthcoming economic crisis. She also called on world leaders not to overlook the fight against malaria.


Speaking to FRANCE 24 from Monrovia, former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Covid-19 had for now been less present in Africa in part because of the climate, maybe because of genes but most definitely because the continent is used to such pandemics and most African countries were quick to take decisive action.

Sirleaf said that lockdown and isolation measures were "necessary" to stop the spread of the virus, including in Africa, even though they at some point need to be relaxed to allow the economy to restart.

She told FRANCE 24 the Liberian government had responded well to the pandemic and said that the recent decision by President George Weah to re-open religious services had to be coordinated with civil society in order to allay concerns that it might help propagate the virus.

The former Liberian president said that while the health crisis was bad, she was concerned for the scale of the economic crisis to come and urged the international community to show solidarity with Africa. She noted that while solidarity was much better now than during the Ebola outbreak back in 2014 when she was in power, Liberia's economy still had not fully recovered from Ebola.

She said that debt cancellation for Africa should certainly be on the table.

Finally, she voiced concern that the focus on Covid-19 could provoke an upsurge in deaths caused by other infectious diseases, first and foremost malaria. Sirleaf called on world leaders not to overlook this deadly disease. "Please pay attention to malaria! It kills. It needs the financial support, it needs the technical support, it needs the vaccine, it needs eradication. Please. Let's fight the virus Covid-19. Let's also fight malaria," she urged.

>> Watch our Debate: How's West Africa doing? Covid-19 tests region's resilience

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