Africa: Subject in Focus: WHO COVID-19 Support to Africa


Geneva — As of 7 July, there have been 493 131 cases of COVID-19 and 11 643 deaths reported from the African continent – a 25% increase in cases and 18% increase in deaths over the past week.

WHO is working closely with Ministries of Health and other partners in the African region to support the strengthening of essential health services in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO continues to advise and support countries to strengthen both emergency and routine health services and to maintain influenza surveillance and other disease control strategies.

As countries begin to reopen borders and resume air travel, including commercial flights, WHO urges governments to take effective measures, including entry and exit screenings and the practising of hand hygiene, cough etiquette and physical distancing measures, to mitigate the risk of a surge in COVID-19 transmission due to the resumption of commercial flights and airport operations. After initial delays in delivering medical supplies for the COVID-19 response, the reopening of air spaces and increased availability of commercial flights in recent weeks have been a critical factor in facilitating shipments and the delivery of personal protective equipment, diagnostic tests and biomedical equipment.

Over the coming weeks, WHO Operations Support and Logistics (OSL) is preparing to ship nearly 47 million items of personal protective equipment, including medical masks, examination gloves, gowns, face shields and goggles to countries across Africa. WHO is also seeing progress in the procurement of diagnostic tests through a purchasing consortium comprising WHO, UNICEF and the Global Fund.

In recent weeks, the consortium has begun deliveries of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to approximately 130 countries. More than 420 000 PCR tests have been delivered to Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. An additional 626 000 tests are presently in transit to 25 countries, and 910 582 tests are awaiting shipment to 42 countries. More than 195 000 sample collection kits also have been delivered to 25 countries, and an additional 866 700 kits are in transit to 37 countries.

To date, 2522 oxygen concentrators have been shipped to 26 countries and an additional 700 are being prepared for shipment to 30 countries. WHO continues to provide operational and technical design support, upon the request of governments and UN partner agencies, to establish Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) treatment facilities in Africa and other regions.

In collaboration with a network of architects and engineers, WHO has assisted 15 countries in setting up SARI treatment centres to support the COVID-19 response. The OSL HealthTech unit continues to accept requests for technical assistance via the HealthTech Help Desk (reachable by email at Current projects in Africa include facilities in Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Chad.

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