• Preparing for coronavirus in Africa

Global health experts are increasingly coming to the same conclusion: the novel coronavirus 2019 will circle the globe. With Sub-Saharan Africa's strong ties to China, the epicenter of the virus, it’s likely just a matter of time until COVID-19 arrives, if it is not already there. The under-resourced and unprepared national health systems of many African countries will have difficulty detecting its presence and are not equipped to respond.

Those of us who have experience in responding to disease outbreaks know that every moment of lead time to prepare is precious, not to be squandered. That is why IMA World Health and our partners intend to do our part to stop COVID-19 from taking hold on the continent, where it could have devastating impacts on the economies, trade, and people of Africa.

Drawing from experience

IMA World Health has significant experience in outbreak response and deep partnerships with faith-based health care networks across Africa. IMA has mobilized a response to the last four Ebola outbreaks on the continent, including the current outbreak in Eastern DRC, where IMA was one of the few international NGOs to remain operational in the epicenter of the outbreak through multiple crises and upheavals thanks to our partnerships with national organizations and faith-based networks.

In these efforts, IMA worked closely with HEAL Africa, Program for the Promotion of Primary Health Care, Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau, and other Christian Health Associations, also known as CHAs, to support infection prevention and control, or IPC, and build long term local capacity within health care systems to ensure that they are prepared for future public health emergencies.

IMA’s response to coronavirus

Building on this experience, and in anticipation of local or widespread transmission of the virus on the African continent, IMA World Health is seeking to improve preparedness of non-governmental CHAs and other faith-based health care networks in Sub-Saharan Africa for COVID-19 outbreak response. IMA will work through a collaborative partnership with the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP) -- a membership organization of 43 CHAs in 32 countries in Africa.

In partnership with ACHAP, IMA seeks to:

  • Provide technical assistance, equipment and supplies to implement IPC in CHA facilities;
  • Support the CHAs’ community surveillance and contact tracing efforts;
  • Develop and disseminate informative messaging on the virus and what to do to the public;
  • Supply CHAs with curated and contextualized WHO and national guidelines and best practices for COVID-19 response on a centralized, accessible platform;
  • Facilitate inclusion of NGO data into national surveillance and disease detection systems.