A revolution in healthcare is brewing in Africa. Though folks aren’t marching within the streets in celebration, behind the scenes, 1000’s of healthcare staff are studying new expertise to offer best-practice speciality care that’s saving lives throughout the continent.
Greater than 140 000 folks residing with HIV in Namibia at the moment are being handled with essentially the most up-to-date data in essentially the most distant villages of the nation. And folks affected by infectious ailments from Zambia to Uganda, from Côte d’Ivoire to Kenya, are receiving care that was unthinkable just a few years in the past.
With a vaccine for Covid-19 on the horizon, nationwide well being leaders have a possibility to do for Covid-19 what has been accomplished for HIV and infectious ailments equivalent to tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.
We are able to and should step up our readiness to do two issues: first, practice extra staff to be Covid-19 specialists, and second, distribute the approaching vaccine based mostly on classes realized by continent-wide collaboration fairly than by data residing in particular person international locations alone.
We all know that any vaccine — no matter its efficacy — will meet some resistance. It could be cultural, non secular, logistical or medical, equivalent to planning for potential side-effects. Our leaders should anticipate this and make sure that our healthcare suppliers are outfitted to teach folks throughout Africa to know the life-saving advantages of a protected and efficient vaccine.
In spite of everything, we are able to’t transfer huge numbers of docs, nurses and others to take care of sick folks, however we are able to transfer data.
We all know that that is doable as a result of we now have had exceptional success taking up a equally daunting problem by coaching an expanded workforce to handle HIV in Namibia.
Our work was based mostly on a mannequin referred to as Mission Echo (standing for Extension for Neighborhood Healthcare Outcomes) a telementoring community that began in the US to handle hepatitis C in distant areas of New Mexico. Utilizing videoconferencing expertise, neighborhood well being staff, nurses and docs — generalists by coaching — study speciality care from deep specialists and one another’s community-informed data.
The end result: sufferers handled by these neighborhood suppliers for hepatitis C now had equally profitable outcomes in contrast with sufferers being handled in essentially the most superior medical centres.
In Namibia, the ministry of well being and social providers got down to study if the Echo strategy might strengthen and develop the nation’s HIV workforce. May giant numbers of latest staff be educated to enhance scientific care? May docs and nurses and different well being staff in essentially the most remoted elements of the nation report improved skilled satisfaction and fewer isolation?
In huge numbers, the reply was a powerful “sure!” And, now the ministry’s programme has expanded to greater than 40 websites across the nation, serving greater than 140 000 folks with HIV.
We’ve seen that greater than 15 international locations in Africa are already supporting healthcare staff on this means, managing multidrug-resistant TB and safer surgical procedure, bettering laboratory high quality, even managing Covid.
We’re experiencing what might be achieved within the absence of conventional schooling and coaching. We all know that we are able to attain lots of of 1000’s of African folks whom we in any other case couldn’t educate — or vaccinate — just by rising the quantity of specialists who’ve the appropriate coaching. And this may be accomplished at little or no value as a result of the coaching is digital.
With a vaccine months away, we’d like a pan-African workforce that’s ready to guard our folks from this horrible illness.
We’ve made a begin. In a Covid-19 world, the place in-person communication and collaboration is restricted, African medical specialists and hospitals are stepping up, creating digital communities of medical observe throughout our continent. Specialists are coaching new specialists on daily basis.
Now, we have to put together for vaccinating the African folks even earlier than the vaccine is accepted. As a sensible matter, which means that international locations that haven’t adopted approaches such because the Echo mannequin ought to — and shortly. Africa wants extra educated well being suppliers for the monumental activity of vaccinating a continent.
We should assume as one. The African Union, its member international locations, the Africa Middle for Illness Management and the World Well being Organisation ought to develop a staffing plan for vaccine supply in order that we now have sufficient expert staff to get folks vaccinated. The objective isn’t solely about country-by-country readiness, although that’s essential. It’s additionally about studying from one another’s greatest practices, accelerating these, and doing one of the best we are able to continent-wide.
An African proverb says, “Data is sort of a backyard. If you happen to don’t domesticate it, you can not harvest it.”
With Covid-19, we now have no time to waste. We have to plant the seeds now. And we now have a confirmed workforce technique to get us there.