Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic on the African continent will require a collaborative, cooperative and effective communication approach, with the recognition that the situation will not be resolved in any single State if it is not resolved in each and every country.
This was indicated by Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr John Nkengasong, speaking during a webcast briefing on Covid-19 in Africa and the US's response.
He indicated that when the first case was reported on the continent, in Egypt, an emergency meeting of Ministers of Health from all of the members States was immediately called for.
This led to two major outcomes, the first being the need for a continental strategy, and the second, the establishment of a task force to pull on human capital and assets on the continent.
Through the task force, he noted that the working groups from this were able to scale up diagnostics very quickly, from serving just two counties to over 48 countries.
These measures were part of the preparedness phase, Nkengasong indicated, and now the continent is in response phase.
As part of these efforts, US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Influenza Division medical officer Dr Meredith McMorrow noted that the organisation was providing technical and communication support and coordinating with national governments on the continent in their various responses to the pandemic.
In this regard, she enthused that the organisation was fortunate to have staff positioned on the continent to respond rapidly to the pandemic, and to engender support and collaboration.
Moreover, she noted that the organisation had not faced the traditional barriers with coordinating efforts, because governments and citizens were aware of the severity of the pandemic and the potential impact of the population, and were responding in line with this.
McMorrow acknowledged that there were challenges in mobilising against the virus in Africa, such as many countries having issues in establishing sufficient testing capacity; and a delay of test results.
As such, it is likely that the current figures for the continent are underreported.
However, governments and organisations were tackling these challenges.
For example, in South Africa, the government is pursing making testing broadly available and implementing door-to-door testing in dense urban areas.