Africa CDC roots for community health workers to boost pandemic response

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Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC)
Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC)

The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said Tuesday the continent will leverage a robust community healthcare ecosystem in a bid to boost action on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The foundation of an effective healthcare system is community health workers who are crucial in the fight against COVID-19 in the coming months as the delta variant fuels the third wave in about 31 African countries,” John Nkengasong, director of Africa CDC, said during a webinar.

The webinar was convened Tuesday by the African Union (AU), Africa CDC and donor partners to discuss the role of community health workers in pandemic preparedness and response.

Senior policymakers, researchers and grassroots advocates are participating in the two-day virtual forum to share best practices that can be scaled up to ensure community health workers are part of pandemic recovery in the continent.

According to Nkengasong, about 100,000 community health workers will be deployed across the continent by December to support COVID-19 response in key areas like testing, contact tracing, vaccination and risk communication.

He said that the community health workers have been integrated with the Africa CDC-led Partnership for Accelerating COVID Testing (PACT) initiative whose implementation has gone overdrive. And the key objective of the PACT initiative is to involve community health workers in tracing, testing and treating COVID-19 cases in hard-to-reach parts of the continent. He emphasized that policy reforms, sufficient funding, training, capacity building and use of technology are the key to strengthening the participation of community health workers in Africa’s fight against COVID-19.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the ex-Liberian president, said that investment in community health workers will hasten pandemic recovery in Africa besides strengthening the resilience of the continent’s health systems, suggesting that governments should focus on domestic financing of community healthcare ecosystems to boost pandemic fight through enhanced surveillance, timely diagnosis, treatment and care. Enditem

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