NGOs Prepare for Possible Coronavirus Outbreak in Africa

Although there are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Africa, NGOs are preparing to contain the virus if it does affect the continent. Countries in Africa have weaker health systems compared to other parts of the world. Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, where people are more mobile, would make the virus especially difficult to contain. Additionally, there are malnourished populations already suffering from diseases making their immune systems more susceptible to the harsher effects of the coronavirus.

Health workers wait to screen travelers for signs of the coronavirus at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana (Source: Devex.com).

In response, NGOs are meeting to discuss how to prepare in case the coronavirus reaches Africa. There is a need for isolation facilities, protective gear and hygiene products. PQMD member World Vision, for example, has convened an oversight group and is assessing capacities to respond. Additionally, NGOs recognize the importance of engaging with communities to discuss how the virus spreads and ways to avoid getting sick.

There are structures in place already for the Ebola response which can be scaled up, and lessons have been learned in an effort to address Ebola outbreaks. Resources may be difficult to obtain, however. There are currently global shortages of supplies, such as masks and gowns due to the coronavirus outbreak. Without these supplies, there could be many sick health workers. Experts say that it is important to define protocols ahead of time to prepare for an outbreak.

Read more at Devex.

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