Learning from Senegal

COVID around the world, Dec. 19, 2020

I have a friend who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal. America’s response to COVID has often been compared to that of a “third world country,” or as Trump calls them, “shithole countries.” My friend sent me a link to a story about how they’re handling the pandemic in Senegal. I urge you to take a look at this 6 minute video. As far as COVID is concerned, we are the “third world country,” and perhaps we should be delving into “Senegalese Exceptionalism” instead of staunchly defending a failed version of American Exceptionalism.

Source: www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

Think about that. We have 52 times as many cases (normalized) as Senegal, 46 times as many deaths, 11 times the median personal income, and 41 times as many doctors. If the United States had the same normalized death rate as Senegal, we would now have around 7,000 deaths instead of 321,000.

Yes, I know, countries are different. But we could stand to learn from Senegal’s experience with COVID:

  • Experience with deadly epidemics like Ebola
  • Closed borders and prohibited air travel
  • Established curfews, but did not shut down economy completely
  • Mask mandates and unified public health messaging
  • Transparency in letting the public know where the disease was spreading
  • Religious leaders (predominantly Muslim) amplify public health messaging instead of challenging it. Religious leaders promised strict adherence to safety protocols, and so far, no outbreaks have been traced to religious gatherings. People attending services all wear masks and are socially distant.

The main cultural philosophy of the Senegalese is “TERANGA,”  which means Welcome.   No matter how poor a family is, if a guest shows up unexpectedly, they will be asked to join and share a meal.

Every time anyone criticizes something in our country, there are loud voices asking, “Why do you hate America?” I don’t hate America. I hate the idea that we’re too good to learn from countries that have done things better than we have. Real hatred for America is manifested in the refusal to change, false pride for an inferior effort, and the pitiful belief that somehow we’re better than everyone else in the world.

A slight change

As most of you know, I post once a week on Reddit. However, I also have a few dozen dedicated subscribers to this site. So instead of bundling all my observations into one post, on this site, I’ll break them up and post them when they occur to me. That way, if you’re a subscriber, you’ll have something to look at other than the same old thing for 7 days.

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