At the time of writing, Ghana, Senegal and South Africa through innovation, leadership and sound public health measures have managed to keep ahead of the pandemic, relative to many countries in the West.
Experts point to the region’s experience dealing with the recent Ebola epidemic and with managing diseases such as malaria, meningitis, HIV and yellow fever, which may have helped them to jump-start successful responses much sooner than some of the larger more industrialised economies.
Ghana chose to tailor solutions for their specific reality. Given limited resources, the country of 28 million people, developed a system of contact tracing, early on, that isolated the hot spots to two cities – Accra and Kumasi, where resources were then directed.
With 6,269 confirmed cases, there have only been 31 deaths, with most having other underlying health issues. The government has also strongly enforced a measure for all citizens to wear masks as a more prudent way of controlling the spread, in an environment, where social distancing is not practical.
Ghana is also moving ahead to test treatments using traditional herbs, and, looking ahead, the government plans to focus on boosting local manufacturing of priority items such as pharmaceuticals so that it can ready itself for the next pandemic.
(Stats from The Africa Report)
Senegal was also quick to respond to the pandemic. Since March, when the outbreak began, the country of 16 million has recorded 2,400 cases and just 25 deaths.
Their success has been attributed to early planning that started in 2014 with the creation of a permanent health emergency operation center, which is plugged into a global health network, where it first learned about the virus in January. The government then put in place a plan to have a hospital bed for every positive case.
They have scaled up from an initial 86 ICU bed capacity to 900 in early May and an expected 1600 by the end of May with the addition of beds in health centers and hotels. The country is also working with the UK government to finalise and distribute the world’s first US$1 coronavirus test that yields results in just 10 minutes.
(Stats from NPR)
South Africa also drew heavily on its past experience and community health infrastructure tackling tuberculosis and HIV. As a result, in just one month, the government activated 28,000 health workers to screen over 7 million people, representing more than one in 10 South Africans.
The government has also ramped up testing to 10,000 a day, which is yielding 3% positive test results. To date, the country of 58 million people recorded 19,137 cases and 369 deaths, the highest in Africa. Despite their aggressive system of testing, tracing and containment, cases continue to mount with the peak expected to occur in September.
Thanks to its vigilance and proactive stance, the government signaled that it is prepared to keep measures such as social isolation, closures and curfews in place for as long as it takes to contain the virus.
(Stats from the Financial Times)