Response to the novel corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic across Africa : successes, challenges and implications for the future

Ogunleye, Olayinka O. and Basu, Debashis and Mueller, Debjani and Sneddon, Jacqueline and Seaton, R. Andrew and Yinka-Ogunleye, Adesola F. and Wamboga, Joshua and Miljković, Nenad and Mwita, Julius C. and Rwegerera, Godfrey Mutashambara and Massele, Amos and Patrick, Okwen and Lum Niba, Loveline and Nsaikila, Melaine and Rashed, Wafaa M. and Hussein, Mohamed Ali and Hegazy, Rehab and Amu, Adefolarin A. and Boahen-Boaten, Baffour and Matsebula, Zinhle and Gwebu, Prudence and Chirigo, Bongani and Mkhabela, Nongabisa and Dlamini, Tenelisiwe and Sithole, Siphiwe and Malaza, Sandile and Dlamini, Sikhumbuzo and Afriyie, Daniel and Asare, George Awuku and Amponsah, Seth Kwabena and Sefah, Israel and Oluka, Margaret and Guantai, Anastasia N. and Opanga, Sylvia A. and Sarele, Tebello Violet and Mafisa, Refeletse Keabetsoe and Chikowe, Ibrahim and Khuluza, Felix and Kibuule, Dan and Kalemeera, Francis and Mubita, Mwangana and Fadare, Joseph and Sibomana, Laurien and Ramokgopa, Gwendoline Malegwale and Whyte, Carmen and Maimela, Tshegofatso and Hugo, Johannes and Meyer, Johanna C. and Schellack, Natalie and Rampamba, Enos M. and Visser, Adel and Alfadl, Abubakr and Malik, Elfatih M. and Malande, Oliver Ombeva and Kalungia, Aubrey C. and Mwila, Chiluba and Zaranyika, Trust and Chaibva, Blessmore Vimbai and Olaru, Ioana D. and Masuka, Nyasha and Wale, Janney and Hwenda, Lenias and Kamoga, Regina and Hill, Ruaraidh and Barbui, Corrado and Bochenek, Tomasz and Kurdi, Amanj and Campbell, Stephen and Martin, Antony P. and Phuong, Thuy Nguyen Thi and Thanh, Binh and Godman, Brian (2020) Response to the novel corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic across Africa : successes, challenges and implications for the future. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 11. 1205. ISSN 1663-9812 (

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Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed considerable lives. There are major concerns in Africa due to existing high prevalence rates for both infectious and non-infectious diseases and limited resources in terms of personnel, beds and equipment. Alongside this, concerns that lockdown and other measures will have on prevention and management of other infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs are an increasing issue with rising morbidity and mortality rates. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that a lack of nets and treatment could result in up to 18 million additional cases of malaria and up to 30,000 additional deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Objective: Document current prevalence and mortality rates from COVID-19 alongside economic and other measures to reduce its spread and impact across Africa. In addition, suggested ways forward among all key stakeholder groups. Our Approach: Contextualise the findings from a wide range of publications including internet-based publications coupled with input from senior-level personnel. Ongoing Activities: Prevalence and mortality rates are currently lower in Africa than among several Western countries and the USA. This could be due to a number of factors including early instigation of lockdown and border closures, the younger age of the population, lack of robust reporting systems and as yet unidentified genetic and other factors. Innovation is accelerating to address concerns with available equipment. There are ongoing steps to address the level of misinformation and its consequences including fines. There are also ongoing initiatives across Africa to start addressing the unintended consequences of COVID-19 activities including lockdown measures and their impact on NCDs including the likely rise in mental health disorders, exacerbated by increasing stigma associated with COVID-19. Strategies include extending prescription lengths, telemedicine and encouraging vaccination. However, these need to be accelerated to prevent increased morbidity and mortality. Conclusion: There are multiple activities across Africa to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and address misinformation, which can have catastrophic consequences, assisted by the WHO and others, which appear to be working in a number of countries. Research is ongoing to clarify the unintended consequences given ongoing concerns to guide future activities. Countries are learning from each other.