The global health community is increasingly concerned about the damage that a coronavirus outbreak could cause in low-income nations, where stretched health care systems are already contending with other health concerns.
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In Africa, efforts to contain an outbreak could be hindered by weak disease-surveillance systems, inadequate facilities for isolating patients, limited diagnostic capacities, and a lack of protective safety equipment for health workers.
Devex Associate Editor Amruta Byatnal spoke with Medair's Dr. Trina Helderman and Devex East Africa Correspondent Sara Jerving to discuss the situation and the role that NGOs can play if a widespread COVID-19 outbreak hits the continent, including lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak.
Highlights from this conference call include:
• The distinctiveness of the Chinese government’s aggressive response to COVID-19, and how this differs from what could be expected with weaker health systems.
• How Medair develops its contingency plans and readiness checklists for disease emergencies — including considerations of risk for on-the-ground staff and the scaling-up of interventions.
• The impact of COVID-19 on the procurement of personal protective equipment, which is also needed for the response to other diseases on the African continent, such as tuberculosis and Ebola.
• Other critical factors that NGOs must consider prior to an emergency intervention, such as consistent community engagement and control of the spread of misinformation.
Speakers: Dr. Trina Helderman, senior health and nutrition adviser, global emergency response team, Medair; Sara Jerving, East Africa correspondent, Devex.
Moderator: Amruta Byatnal, associate editor, Devex.
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