The health situation in Tunisia, where there are between “150 and 200 deaths per day” due to Covid-19, will result in “more than a tourist shock. It is a blank bleeding in the Tunisian economy”, estimates this Sunday, July 18 on franceinfo Vincent Geisser, specialist in Tunisia and researcher at the Institute for Research and Studies on the Arab and Muslim Worlds (IRENAM).
franceinfo: Tunisia has just been classified among the “red” countries by France because of the level of contamination. What does this mean for the country?
Vincent Geisser: It is more than a tourist shock, it is a blank bleeding in the Tunisian economy. Especially since the tourism sector lives with more than 30 or 40% of undeclared jobs, and people who work in this informal sector do not even have social protection. So yes, it is a health disaster, but it is above all and first of all a social disaster for Tunisia.
What explains the country’s health situation? A lack of vaccine doses?
Tunisia took it quite late to vaccinate, compared to other neighboring countries like Morocco. And today, for reasons of the public finance crisis, it does not have enough doses.
“She was expecting three million doses. She got less than half of them.”Vincent Geisser, specialist in Tunisia
Today, it is forced to resort to international cooperation to benefit from doses of vaccines, despite the help of France which has promised about a million in the coming weeks. But that means the country is completely dependent on these deliveries of vaccines, oxygen, and even basic medical supplies. Which is surprising for a country that has long been a model for public hospitals. Tunisia is a reference in Africa for medical training, and despite that, it does not have the means to vaccinate.
The situation may seem paradoxical …
Tunisia trains very good doctors, but they sometimes go abroad. We French know what we owe to Tunisian medicine. There is not a Parisian, Marseille or Lyon hospital where there is not a Tunisian binational doctor, who studied in Tunisia or in France, and who today helps enormously. The paradox is that a large part of the doctors are indeed outside the Tunisian borders.