African scientists call for robust surveillance to boost COVID-19 fight

African scientists call for robust surveillance to boost COVID-19 fight
# 24 May 2021 19:37 (UTC +04:00)

The next phase of the COVID-19 fight in Africa should place emphasis on enhanced surveillance and genomic sequencing to help identify new variants and limit the virus' transmission, scientists said Monday during a virtual forum in Nairobi, APA reports citing Xinhua.

Uzma Alam, a senior program officer, Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science in Africa (DELTAS) said the continent's ability to flatten the COVID-19 curve hinges on better surveillance, diagnosis, contact tracing and vaccination.

"There is a need to foster cooperation at national and regional levels to improve surveillance of coronavirus transmission trends, conduct testing, and measure impact on public health systems," said Alam.

The Nairobi-based African Academy of Sciences (AAS) convened the virtual forum to discuss evidence-based interventions to boost COVID-19 response in the continent. Senior policymakers and researchers who participated in the forum said that Africa should improve on surveillance, diagnosis, and modeling to enhance understanding of the pandemic and its impact on the economy.

Gordon Awandare, a Ghanaian researcher said that African countries should invest in high-end diagnostic equipment and training of health officers in order to improve reporting of COVID-19 caseload.

According to Awandare, the continent required advanced laboratories combined with local manufacturing of diagnostic kits to help come up with an accurate number of positive cases and place them on treatment.

Tobias Chirwa, a Malawian epidemiologist said that COVID-19 has reaffirmed the urgency for African countries to upgrade surveillance infrastructure and avert an implosion of infections that could overrun public health facilities.

Kadondi Kasera, head of the public health emergency operations center at Kenya's Ministry of Health said that active surveillance is paramount to minimize community transmission of coronavirus. 

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