NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12 – Amref Health Africa, with support from Mastercard Foundation will implement a one-year programme to train 33,104 healthcare providers and 31,280 frontline community health volunteers to identify, treat, and manage COVID-19 cases.
Mastercard Foundation has committed approximately US$1.8 million to the programme through its COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme, which aims to help communities and institutions in Africa withstand and respond to the short-term impacts of this pandemic while strengthening their resilience in the long-run.
“During this pandemic, partnerships have proven to be essential, particularly in equipping health care personnel and strengthening diverse institutions in the front line against the social and economic aftermath of this disease. We will work with Mastercard Foundation to expand community surveillance and testing, while equipping more health workers and communities with information on the disease.’’ said Dr Meshack Ndirangu, Country Director, Amref Health Africa in Kenya.
Amref’s existing digital learning solutions (LEAP and JIBU) will be used to prepare the health care workers to carry out disease surveillance, referral of suspected cases, contact tracing, uphold biosafety standards, and receive updates on correct measures to prevent and manage COVID-19 infections.
“With the Leap Platform, we were able to immediately support the Ministry of Health’s preparedness efforts by digitising and deploying key COVID-19 messages as well as learning material to volunteers from across the country,’’ said Caroline Mbindyo, CEO, Amref Enterprises.
The Programme will harness the capacity of the Amref Central Laboratory to provide additional capacity following the Ministry of Health’s call for support in handling the surge in COVID-19 cases. It will leverage on Amref’s existing technological infrastructure, relationships with the Ministry of Health, and existing technology partnerships to rapidly roll out training for laboratory technologists from the selected GeneXpert sites to start testing for COVID-19.
Those who will be trained include 47 County Medical Laboratory Coordinators, 58 Sub-county Medical Laboratory Coordinators, 520 laboratory staff from the 57 GeneXpert sites on the use of GeneXpert for COVID-19 testing, biosafety, sample management and referral.
“A key priority of Mastercard Foundation’s COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program is to strengthen the public health response across the continent. The Africa CDC has made it clear that socio-economic recovery is contingent on our ability to build the capacity of health systems. The Ministry of Health has echoed this and issued a call for support. We’re grateful to be working with Amref Health Africa to continue supplementing the swift, excellent, and ongoing action we have already witnessed from a range of actors,” said Daniel Hailu, Regional Head, Eastern and Southern Africa.
In the wake of the rising cases of COVID-19, the Programme will collaborate with the Ministry of Health to scale testing beyond the existing sites that are offering real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR) screening. This will be achieved by enabling 57 peripheral health facilities to carry out laboratory diagnosis for COVID-19 using GeneXpert machines. The funding will equip these laboratories with basic biosafety equipment including autoclaves, biosafety cabinets and biosafety certification to assure safe testing.