New Report highlights information gaps on COVID-19 in Africa

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A new report has highlighted the large information gaps on COVID-19 which exist in Africa and threaten response efforts of each country to curtail the pandemic.

The Responding to COVID-19 in Africa: Using Data to Find a Balance report includes first-of-its-kind data to adapt COVID-19 pandemic response to local needs and capacities in Africa. 

The report is designed to provide African governments real-time information and guidance to find the balance in COVID-19 Response.
The Using Data to Find a Balance report is developed by Africa CDC, the WHO, IpsosVital Strategies‘ Resolve to Save Lives initiative, the UK Public Health Rapid Support TeamNovetta Mission Analytics and the World Economic Forum to provide data and guidance to governments as they move toward a long-term response: use data to make informed decisions, adapt local measures as the pandemic and public perceptions evolve, and mitigate adverse effects by focusing on protecting the most vulnerable populations. 

“This report highlights the large information gaps on COVID-19 which exist in Africa and threaten response efforts,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.

“The findings of this report, along with COVID-19 trend data, will help countries make strategic decisions on relaxing their lockdowns. What we’ve learnt from Ebola and other outbreaks is that countries need to decentralize the response to the community level and increase their capacity to identify and diagnose cases.”
Key findings in the report include:

  • One third (32%) of respondents said they do not have enough information about the coronavirus, including how it spreads and how to protect themselves;
  • Across countries, large majorities believe COVID-19 will have major impact on their country (62%), but only 44% believe it is a threat to them personally;
  • More than two thirds (69%) of respondents said food and water would be a problem if they were required to remain at home for 14 days – and 51% would run out of money.

Recommendations include that governments:

  • Strengthen public health systems for immediate response and for a lasting recovery;
  • Monitor data on how public health and social measures meet local COVID-19 conditions and needs; and
  • Engage communities to adapt PHSM to the local context and effectively communicate about risks to sustain public support.

This report was produced by the Partnership for Evidence-Based Response to COVID-19 (PERC), a public-private partnership that supports evidence-based measures to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on African countries. PERC member organizations are Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team and the World Economic Forum. WHO and Africa CDC are providing technical leadership and ensuring that new evidence is quickly adopted by Member States to adjust their COVID-19 response interventions. Ipsos and Novetta Mission Analytics bring market research expertise and years of data analytic support to the partnership.

The report notes the disruptions caused by public health social measures, which are designed to stop the spread of COVID-19, and the importance of preserving wellbeing, economic livelihoods and social stability. Using Data to Find a Balance also includes recommendations for governments to prioritize rapidly enhancing public health capacity to test, trace, isolate and treat people infected with the virus, making the most of the time that early intervention with PHSM has provided.
“Governments have had to make difficult decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shelter-in-place measures can prevent infection but may limit access to food and essential services,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies.

“Governments cannot rely on guesswork or instinct to combat COVID-19 – they need data.

“Many preventive measures taken elsewhere in the world must be adapted to the local context; we are proud to be a part of this extraordinary effort to provide real-time, Africa-specific data so that decision-makers can adapt their COVID-19 response based on data that is specific to their country,” said Dr. Darrell Bricker, CEO, Ipsos Public Affairs.
“The most successful response to COVID-19 in Africa must consider context and adaptability, and must be data-driven. With the release of Using Data to Find a Balance report, governments throughout Africa now have access to country-specific policy recommendations, and the data to guide their response to COVID-19 in the most effective and responsible manner,” said Dr Nkengasong. 
PERC conducted surveys across 28 cities in 20 African member states to assess the impact the crisis was already having on populations, and people’s attitudes toward PHSMs being implemented. The report includes a regional analysis accompanied by individual country briefs to provide the most relevant data and recommendations to local decision-makers. As the pandemic evolves, further waves of research are planned to provide real-time updates that reflect current response efforts, changes to people’s perceptions, and timely recommendations and guidance. 
To read the full report, please visit: https://preventepidemics.org/coronavirus/perc/


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