The Most Innovative African Countries During the 2020 Pandemic
An entire camp of 244 construction workers in a rural area was quarantined when three of them tested positive for the corona virus. Instead of driving for two hours to Accra Ghana to test the samples, within a few minutes, they were delivered to a testing facility via autonomous drone. The results came back via SMS: negative. And the workers were let out of quarantine.
It may not seem like much, but Ghana is shaving hours and even days of the time it takes to get a COVID-19 test from suspected rural victims to urban laboratory with the help of delivery drones. With over 100,000 tests conducted so far, Ghana has one of the highest testing rates in Africa, after South Africa.
COVID-19 gained a presence in Sub-Saharan Africa, and governments are stepping up measures to prevent the spread of this virus. Over the past weeks, travellers have been screened with thermal cameras and health agents have been deployed to increase surveillance, and countries have acted swiftly to cut down flights, close schools and borders, and limit public gatherings. African countries are responding to the outbreak with a different measure of intensity. Let’s look at innovative ways some African countries are tackling the corona virus outbreak.
On 11 March, the World Health Organization characterized COVID-19 a pandemic. Africa was initially spared from the outbreak; but, this has since changed rapidly as all African countries except Lesotho have reported cases of infection of the corona virus.
COVID-19 hasn’t had the same sort of devastating impact on Africa as it has elsewhere, according to official statistics. However, after a slow start, there has been a sudden rise in the number of Covid-19 cases on the continent and a similar increase in the number of deaths. So far it has been difficult to fully grasp the extent of the spread of the disease in Africa, as testing has been inadequate, and the impact may be well under-represented.
In the two months since the continent began mobilizing to fight the outbreak, less than 500,000 tests have been conducted on the population of more than 1 billion, a level lower than Italy alone, one of the world’s worst-hit countries.
Djibouti has recorded 98.6 cases per 100,000 people, the highest prevalence on the continent. But the tiny country has conducted over 10,000 tests, as many as neighbouring Ethiopia, which has more than 100 million people. According to a study written by epidemiologists in London and Johannesburg, a single reported death could mean a country already has hundreds or even thousands of cases. The more tests that can be conducted, the more confident the continent can be in its data and the systems it has in place to fight the rising tide.
Many Africa countries have relied on foreign intervention, donations and borrowing to fight the outbreak. But like Ghana, some other countries have taken significant proactive and innovative measures to fight the virus.
Before we get to it; Watch these 7 Lessons from the 2020 Pandemic and Economic Threat
Senegal has become one of the countries in Africa leading the fight against corona virus. The mantra of the World Health Organization is “test, test, test” – but testing is time-consuming and expensive; something most African countries cannot afford. That may be set to change as Senegalese scientists have developed a COVID-19 testing kit that costs $1. The kit is said to allow delivery of results in about 10 minutes and can be used at home like a pregnancy test kit. The country is gearing towards producing between two to four million test kits that can be used in other countries as well as domestically. With a population of over 16 million people and only 50 ventilators nationwide, Senegalese engineers have also developed 3D printing ventilators for $60 as opposed to the $16,000 ventilators available worldwide.
The institute, “Senegal’s Institut Pasteur de Dakar” achieved this by drawing from a wealth of experience gathered from developing vaccines and treatments for several ailments. However, the COVID-19 test kits would not be ready for distribution until June, after necessary testing must have been concluded. The West African nation has over 800 active cases of Covid-19 – over 300 people have recovered and nine persons have died over the last month. The figures would have changed by the time you are reading this article.
Using skills and expertise developed to tackle the 2018 Ebola crisis, the landlocked East African country of Rwanda has so far, largely managed to stem the spread of the corona virus. Soon after the COVID-19 outbreak in December 2019 and fearing its spread in the continent, the Rwandan government was proactive to set up a multidisciplinary team to assess and strengthen preparedness and response to the epidemic. Some 500 health persons including laboratory technicians were trained immediately. Due to early lockdown, the spread of the virus was localized in the capital Kigali and did not allow it to move to other areas. Rwanda has so far reported 207 cases, 93 recoveries and zero death at the time of making this piece.
South Africa has had one of the speediest and most forceful responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. It decided to shut down its borders and put residents into physical lockdown before it announced its first death from Covid-19. Its large health research and disease-tracing machinery, honed by years of coping with its HIV epidemic, has swung into action, driving testing and surveillance. The vast majority of cases have been tested by private laboratories, as opposed to state facilities.
South Africa has conducted the highest number of tests in Africa with over 200,000 tests; And claims to testing around 10,000 a day, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. But compared to other countries in the grip of the virus, that amount is still inadequate. Testing numbers are even more worrying across the rest of Africa. Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, has only conducted around 30,000 tests at the time of making this piece.
Africa has recorded over 70,000 COVID-19 cases, over 27,000 recoveries and over 2,500 deaths. Northern Africa has the highest case, followed by West Africa, then Southern and East Africa. South Africa alone accounts for about 92% of all cases in Southern Africa. But this could be due to the country’s massive testing. East Africa has recorded the lowest death of Covid-19 infection.
In studying the daily increases in the number of those who have tested positive for corona virus around the world, Africa appears to be controlling the spread better than in the US and Europe so far. In comparison, cases in the Middle East have steadily risen, along with deaths, recording more than 78,000 cases, according to the WHO. But since most African countries have low testing rates, the low figures reported by these countries may not represent the true situation of things.
South Africa may seem to be leading in the number of testing in the continent, but when compared to other countries outside the continent, our best so far can be a lot better.
One question for you: do you think African leaders are doing their best in the fight against the corona virus? Please share your thought in the comment section below. Also, share this post to help other people find it. Stay smart. Stay safe!