Response to the novel corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic across Africa: successes, challenges and implications for the future

Olayinka O. Ogunleye, Debashis Basu, Debjani Mueller, Jacqueline Sneddon, R. Andrew Seaton, Adesola F. Yinka-Ogunleye, Joshua Wamboga, Nenad Miljković, Julius C. Mwita, Godfrey Mutashambara Rwegerera, Amos Massele, Okwen Patrick, Loveline Lum Niba, Melaine Nsaikila, Wafaa M. Rashed, Mohamed Ali Hussein, Rehab Hegazy, Adefolarin A. Amu, Baffour Boahen-Boaten, Zinhle MatsebulaPrudence Gwebu, Bongani Chirigo, Nongabisa Mkhabela, Tenelisiwe Dlamini, Siphiwe Sithole, Sandile Malaza, Sikhumbuzo Dlamini, Daniel Afriyie, George Awuku Asare, Seth Kwabena Amponsah, Israel Sefah, Margaret Oluka, Anastasia N. Guantai, Sylvia A. Opanga, Tebello Violet Sarele, Refeletse Keabetsoe Mafisa, Ibrahim Chikowe, Felix Khuluza, Dan Kibuule, Francis Kalemeera, Mwangana Mubita, Joseph Fadare, Laurien Sibomana, Gwendoline Malegwale Ramokgopa, Carmen Whyte, Tshegofatso Maimela, Johannes Hugo, Johanna C. Meyer, Natalie Schellack, Enos M. Rampamba, Adel Visser, Abubakr Alfadl, Elfatih M. Malik, Oliver Ombeva Malande, Aubrey C. Kalungia, Chiluba Mwila, Trust Zaranyika, Blessmore Vimbai Chaibva, Ioana D. Olaru, Nyasha Masuka, Janney Wale, Lenias Hwenda, Regina Kamoga, Ruaraidh Hill, Corrado Barbui, Tomasz Bochenek, Amanj Kurdi, Stephen Campbell, Antony P. Martin, Thuy Nguyen Thi Phuong, Binh Thanh, Brian Godman

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Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed considerable lives. There are major concerns in Africa due to existing high prevalence rates for both infectious and non-infectious diseases and limited resources in terms of personnel, beds and equipment. Alongside this, concerns that lockdown and other measures will have on prevention and management of other infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs are an increasing issue with rising morbidity and mortality rates. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that a lack of nets and treatment could result in up to 18 million additional cases of malaria and up to 30,000 additional deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Objective: Document current prevalence and mortality rates from COVID-19 alongside economic and other measures to reduce its spread and impact across Africa. In addition, suggest ways forward among all key stakeholder groups. Our Approach: Contextualise the findings from a wide range of publications including internet-based publications coupled with input from senior-level personnel. Ongoing activities: Prevalence and mortality rates are currently lower in Africa than among several Western countries and the USA. This could be due to a number of factors including early instigation of lockdown and border closures, the younger age of the population, lack of robust reporting systems and as yet unidentified genetic and other factors. Innovation is accelerating to address concerns with available equipment. There are ongoing steps to address the level of misinformation and its consequences including fines. There are also ongoing initiatives across Africa to start addressing the unintended consequences of COVID-19 activities including lockdown measures and their impact on NCDs including the likely rise in mental health disorders, exacerbated by increasing stigma. Strategies include extending prescription lengths, use of drones, telemedicine and encouraging vaccination. However, these need to be accelerated to prevent increased morbidity and mortality Conclusion: There are multiple activities across Africa to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and address misinformation, which can be catastrophic, assisted by the WHO and others, which appear to be working in a number of countries. Research is ongoing to clarify the unintended consequences given ongoing concerns to guide future activities. Countries are learning from each other.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1205
Number of pages36
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sep 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Africa
  • prevalence
  • treatment
  • misinformation
  • health policy
  • unintended consequences
  • review

Cite this

Ogunleye, O. O., Basu, D., Mueller, D., Sneddon, J., Seaton, R. A., Yinka-Ogunleye, A. F., Wamboga, J., Miljković, N., Mwita, J. C., Rwegerera, G. M., Massele, A., Patrick, O., Lum Niba, L., Nsaikila, M., Rashed, W. M., Hussein, M. A., Hegazy, R., Amu, A. A., Boahen-Boaten, B., ... Godman, B. (2020). Response to the novel corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic across Africa: successes, challenges and implications for the future. Frontiers in Pharmacology , 11, [1205].