Interventions towards managing the COVID-19 outbreak
On 11th March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of a new type of Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 respiratory disease, a global pandemic. While the African continent recorded lower numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths since the start of the outbreak compared to Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East, there has been a resurgence in new cases and death on the continent marking potential “new waves.”
The looming crisis caused by COVID-19 is already having disastrous impacts on the continent’s already strained health systems and could quickly worsen the serious social and economic emergency. Calling for the timely development and implementation of evidenced based policies that have the greatest likelihood of success in a situation that is rapidly evolving.
In line with this the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), is working with its key continental policy partners and stakeholders to facilitate the generation of rapid reviews and evidence summaries that will inform African governments policy responses to COVID-19 in a timely manner.
The aim is to create a learning platform to support Evidence Informed policy Responses to COVID-19 in Africa and promote policy coherence at the national, regional, and continental level during the coronavirus pandemic.
The partners for this project are, Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) Africa Research & Impact Network (ARIN), the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP), Cochrane Africa Network, African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), the African Academy of Sciences, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA), the Initiative to Develop African Research Leaders (IDeAL), the Consortium of Advanced Biostatistics training in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSACAB), the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) and the African Mental Health Research Initiative (AMARI).
Tele convenings are being held to bring together stakeholders from the continent including scientists, researchers and policy makers and senior government officials for consultation on the relevant COVID-19 country, regional and continental level issues requiring rapid research synthesis and policy briefs to inform the countries response. The target areas for the tele convening are:
These target areas were identified by a consultative process in which over 1,400 African scientists and policy makers contributed to the identification of 17 priority areas for Africa. The process was led by The African Science Technology and Innovation Prioritisation Programme (ASP).
The Science Standards and Regulatory Technical Working Group (TWG) of AFTCOR in collaboration with a broad range of experts further refined the priorities shortlisting six priority areas (above) where in-depth scientific knowledge is needed for Africa to effectively respond to the pandemic. Vaccine hesitancy was added as a seventh area once Africa started rolling out COVID-19 vaccines.
The policy briefs generated from this process will be tailored to the African country level issues drawing on local evidence and international best practice.
The African Union Commission Chairperson convened an Emergency meeting of AU ministers of health on 22nd February 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after the declaration of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). The meeting resulted in the formation of the African Task Force on Coronavirus (AFTCOR), a pan-African platform for the preparation and response to COVID-19 with the aim of reaching consensus on complex technical and political issues. This was a joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 aimed at prevention of severe illness and death from COVID-19 and infection in Member States while minimizing social disruption and economic consequences.
Step1: Formation of the African Task Force on Coronavirus (AFTCOR)- AFTCOR is the Africa-wide platform for COVID-19 preparedness and response with the goal of achieving consensus on complex technical and policy issues.
Step 2: AESA/Africa Scientific Prioritisation programme (ASP). - conducted a series of priority setting engagements for R&D for Covid-19 including a survey which included 1400 scientists and practitioners participating with 80% of whom self-identified as working on the continent
Step 3: AFTCOR`s Science Standards and Regulatory Technical Working Group (TWG) of collaboration with experts from other organizations identifies 6 key priority areas from the listed priorities. where in-depth scientific knowledge is needed for sufficient response to the pandemic.
Step 4 – current ongoing science policy engagement