EHS-COVID (200) Preparing for a COVID-19 resurgence in the WHO African region

22 January, 2021

Below is an extract from a letter by Benido Impouma et al. in The Lancet (20 January) on Preparing for a COVID-19 resurgence in the WHO African region. The lead author is at WHO Health Emergencies Programme, WHO Regional Office for Africa. I have invited the authors to join us.

Published: January 20, 2021 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32725-2

'Although several countries in Europe are experiencing second waves of the pandemic,2 there is rising fear of a COVID-19 resurgence in the African region. The recent upsurge seen in South Africa, Nigeria, and Senegal indicates possible resurgence, with notable signs of reduced adherence to public health and social measures (PHSM). As a result, transmission in households, schools, prisons, and other close settings has increased. This increase in transmission might force member states to reinstate lockdown measures with the associated negative socio-economic consequences.

'Three interventions are crucial to prepare for and respond to a possible COVID-19 resurgence. First, communities should be empowered as first responders. The experiences during recurrent Ebola outbreaks, and the HIV pandemic, suggest that member states should invest more in engaging the community in the COVID-19 response by involving community leaders as partners, so improving buy-ins for PHSM, and mitigating harm from misinformation...'

Comment (NPW): The authors do not discuss maintenance of essential health services, but our discussions to date on HIFA suggest the impact of a COVID-19 resurgence on health services in Africa could be devastating. Let us hope that the current surge in infections will improve.

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, WHO-HIFA Collaboration: HIFA project on Essential Health Services and COVID-19

https://www.hifa.org/projects/essential-health-services-and-covid-19

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org