PPE is inaccessible. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, global demand for PPE has grown by a factor of 100 and prices are up to 20 times higher. While a global shortage of PPE is affecting all health workers, the brunt has fallen on low- and middle-income countries, and CHWs in particular (who are often excluded from national projections and the last to get existing supplies).
This has devastating consequences. Transmission is accelerating across the continent of Africa. Due to lack of PPE, CHWs in many countries are being told to either stay home or keep working without protection.
- Communities lose access to the essential health-care services CHWs provide. Such reductions in essential service often kill more than the pandemic itself.
- CHWs risk becoming disease vectors, putting themselves, their families, and the people they serve in danger.
- Following a drop in access to protective gear in Africa, there is a 203 percent increase in COVID-19 infections among health-care workers. This occurs in the context of an already acute healthcare worker shortage.
The COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa is an action-oriented collaborative dedicated to protecting Community Health Workers on the frontlines of Africa’s COVID-19 response.
The collaborative seeks to raise up to $100M to supply PPE to CHWs in as many as 24 African countries for approximately one year.
- To fund an urgent unmet need instigated by the COVID-19 pandemic: supplies to protect community health service delivery; and
- To elevate needs required for community health service delivery during COVID-19 among government leaders, multilateral and private donors.
- Focus on community health: We recognize that community health is an important part of the health system that is getting disproportionately less attention amidst COVID-19 despite being well-positioned to limit excess mortality.
- Urgency: Ensure CHWs are protected as soon as possible to minimize disruptions to routine, life-saving care while also accelerating countries’ ability to interrupt transmission of the virus through contact tracing, education, outreach, and other targeted activities.
- Government endorsement: Critical for sustainability.
- Collaboration: We recognize that many efforts are under way to support a variety of needs during unprecedented times. This effort seeks to complement and strengthen existing efforts, minimize the risk of redundancy, and address unmet needs.
- Flexibility: Price volatility and uncertainties related to last mile distribution and supply planning capacity across countries means that it is not possible to restrict resources for PPE items only. Funds can be used to strengthen last mile distribution, extend duration of procurement, and/or add other countries.
- Serving the “invisible cadre” – This effort fills a gap in global response efforts by providing funds for PPE specifically for CHWs
- Multi-country – It will serve 24 African countries to protect one million community health workers serving over 400 million people (approximately 40 percent of the African continent).
- Evidence-based – Fund target (400 million pieces of PPE) is based on a quantification of baseline magnitude for annual CHW needs in 24 sub-Saharan African countries and national Ministry of Health-validated estimates
- Radically collaborative – This effort is the result of over 30 in-country and global partners coming together to ensure last mile distribution of PPE. All have contributed substantial effort in-kind.
- Integrated with national responses – The effort is working in partnership with governments in every country served, supporting Ministries of Health and regional authorities as they lead coordinated national responses
- Focused on last mile – The Fund will be conducting end-use verification processes with in-country partners to document arrival and distribution of the equipment.
- Privately funded – This effort does not rely on funding from governments in countries being served and therefore supplements efforts already underway.
The Fund covers 24 countries that rely on CHWs to achieve high levels of coverage of essential health services. These countries were selected on the basis of having (a) publicly available information on the number of active CHWs in the country, and (b) a civil society partner willing to broker last mile logistics and liaise with the Ministry of Health for purposes of delivering PPE to CHWs. Additional countries may be considered on a case by case basis.
- Burkina Faso
- Cote d’Ivoire
- Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
- Sierra Leone