As the coronavirus pandemic has spread across the world, it has become clear that not all countries have the same options for responding to it. Rich countries have a range of options for allocating spending and strengthening health systems. Poor countries – including many in Africa – often have few resources and little public health capacity to begin with.

But that doesn’t mean that African countries have no options. Public markets and cash transfer programs can cushion the economic blow of the pandemic, and make it easier for people to stay safe.