Early responses to COVID 19 in Africa were characterised by stringent public health and safety measures (PHSM). While these measures might have delayed or contained outbreaks, African countries now face increasing political pressures to ease restrictions, as their wider impacts necessitate a weighing up of the relative effects of an outbreak surge and of the restrictions respectively. Indeed, the socio economic impacts of restrictive measures have been dire, especially considering the continent’s high reliance on informal economic activity. Similarly, siloed, vertical responses to COVID 19 in health systems are driving concerning secondary health impacts as health service provision and utilisation, such as child immunisation, have faced significant disruption. In light of these negative impacts, the Africa CDC has released guidance for easing stringent PHSMs while African countries continue to confront various epidemiological scenarios related to SARS COV 2.
This SSHAP and Africa CDC organised webinar heard from representatives of the Member States of Africa CDC as well as from civil society organisations, humanitarian actors and professional organisations to consider context appropriate measures to protect those most vulnerable to COVID 19 both socio economically, as well as medically. Participants shared challenges and experiences of emerging adaptations and practices to foster mutual learning at this critical juncture. The webinar began with open participant discussion arranged around key questions and debates. Then, selected discussants presented perspectives from Senegal, the Gambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).