Slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Senegal
Bayer Foundation and the international NGO PATH are joining forces to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Senegal, Africa.
PATH - one of five recipients of the Bayer Foundation´s Social Innovation Ecosystem Award 2019 - focuses on training networks of community champions to help prevent malaria.
Today the social enterprise is leveraging these same frontline champions to raise awareness and education on COVID-19 (through door-to-door visits and other channels including television and social media).
Head of Bayer Foundation, Monika Lessl, said: “With most developed countries lacking solid health systems and intensive care units required during the COVID-19 pandemic, I strongly believe that now is the time to ramp up the efforts to prevent and limit the potential spread of Covid-19 in Africa.”
Aminatou Sar, Country Director of PATH, in Senegal.
“The Bayer Foundation immediately understood the need to act”
Monika added that Bayer Foundation’s partnership with PATH forms part of Bayer’s five-pillar strategy to help flatten the COVID-19 curve, which is anchored in raising awareness; providing protective equipment; mitigating the effects of the virus; treating patients; as well as conducting research.
Aminatou Sar, Country Director of PATH, in Senegal, said: “The Bayer Foundation immediately understood the need to act quickly and they helped us redesign our current malaria program,” adding that the community champions are now being rapidly deployed to promote educational materials created in partnership with the Ministry of Health in Senegal.
PATH's Country Director for Senegal Aminatou Sar By Christien van den Brink
How has the Bayer Foundation helped PATH to grow in Senegal in the past few years?
“Thanks to support from the Bayer Foundation, PATH has been able to initiate malaria activities in Senegal’s easternmost region Tambacounda, which will lay the ground for future large-scale interventions in the wider region. Our presence has also been instrumental to rapidly reorganize our activities and respond to the Covid-19 threat, side by side with the Senegal Ministry of Health. Our collaboration with the Bayer Foundation will undoubtedly lead to other interventions in the region, once Covid-19 is behind us. Malaria is and remains a significant burden in the Tambacounda region and we are looking forward to working together in achieving malaria control in Tambacounda. Zero malaria starts with us!”
“Our collaboration with the Bayer Foundation will undoubtedly lead to other interventions in the region, once Covid-19 is behind us”
Aminatou Sar - Country Director Senegal PATH.
Can you tell us a bit more about the Covid-19 response in Tambacounda?
“The Bayer Foundation immediately understood the need to act quickly and they helped us redesign our current malaria program. The 46 community champions that were trained in the malaria program, can rapidly be deployed in the fight against Covid-19. In the next six months, they will go door-to-door and educate the population in the Tambacounda health district on Covid-19, using education materials and messages that are jointly developed with the health authorities. Advice and guidance will also be provided through community channels: how to protect yourself and prevent the spread of infection to others. Short videos developed by the Ministry of Health and other partners will be shared widely across different platforms such as TV, social media and radio.”
Slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Senegal
How can digital tools play a role in the fight against Covid-19 in Senegal?
“PATH supports the implementation of a digital Covid-19 surveillance tracker, using tablets and smartphones, to ensure that timely and accurate information from Tambacounda is available throughout the Senegalese health pyramid on DHIS2. The tracker helps health workers to enroll and track suspected cases; to capture symptoms, demographics, risk factors and exposures. It can also link confirmed cases with contacts; and it monitors patient outcomes.”
Is Senegal ready to deal with such a major health situation?
“The Ebola crisis taught us that we were not ready to deal with a major health crisis. Currently our health system is still far from being crisis-proof. But we are fighting hard. As a Senegalese, I am fully part of this health system. If we don’t do anything, our families will suffer. This is more than a job for me, this crisis has become so personal. And I am hopeful when I see how quickly our government decided to take strong measures such as closing our schools and declaring a state of emergency. I also see that people wash their hands and wear masks when they go outside. The government is slowly reopening schools, religious facilities and markets. But many religious leaders have decided to keep their facilities closed until they are sure the worshippers are safe. I see this as a hopeful sign of responsibility. I believe that my country can get through this.”