A continent-wide effort and solidarity at curbing COVID-19 pandemic: the Africa task force for novel coronavirus (AFTCOR) infection prevention and control technical working group's experience

BMC Public Health. 2023 May 15;23(1):893. doi: 10.1186/s12889-023-15706-8.

Abstract

A continent-wide Africa Task Force for Coronavirus with its six technical working groups was formed to prepare adequately and respond to the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Africa. This research in practice article aimed to describe how the infection prevention and control (IPC) technical working group (TWG) supported Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in preparedness and response to COVID-19 on the continent. To effectively address the multifaceted IPC TWG mandate of organizing training and implementing rigorous IPC measures at healthcare service delivery points, the working group was sub-divided into four sub-groups-Guidelines, Training, Research, and Logistics. The action framework was used to describe the experiences of each subgroup. The guidelines subgroup developed 14 guidance documents and two advisories; all of which were published in English. In addition, five of these documents were translated and published in Arabic, while three others were translated and published in French and Portuguese. Challenges faced in the guidelines subgroup included the primary development of the Africa CDC website in English, and the need to revise previously issued guidelines. The training subgroup engaged the Infection Control Africa Network as technical experts to carry out in-person training of IPC focal persons and port health personnel across the African continent. Challenges faced included the difficulty in conducting face-to-face IPC training and onsite technical support due to the lockdown. The research subgroup developed an interactive COVID-19 Research Tracker on the Africa CDC website and conducted a context-based operation and implementation research. The lack of understanding of Africa CDC's capacity to lead her own research was the major challenge faced by the research subgroup. The logistics subgroup assisted African Union (AU) member states to identify their IPC supply needs through capacity building for IPC quantification. A notable challenge faced by the logistics subgroup was the initial lack of experts on IPC logistics and quantifications, which was later addressed by the recruitment of professionals. In conclusion, IPC cannot be built overnight nor can it be promoted abruptly during outbreaks of diseases. Thus, the Africa CDC should build strong national IPC programmes and support such programmes with trained and competent professionals.

Keywords: COVID-19; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Coronavirus disease; Disease outbreaks; Infection Prevention and Control; Pandemics.

MeSH terms

  • Africa / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Pandemics* / prevention & control
  • SARS-CoV-2