Feature Stories

Leveraging lessons from Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout

From exemplary mass-vaccination stations in Angola, to complex cold-chain logistics in Rwanda and model communications to boost trust in vaccines in Ghana, the World Health Organization (WHO) is documenting key lessons emerging from Africa’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

Meet team WHO: Dr Messeret Shibeshi, Immunization Officer

With over 20 years of experience in mass immunization drives and rapid-response planning across Africa, World Health Organization (WHO) Immunization Officer Dr Messeret Shibeshi is aiding 20 East and Southern African countries in rolling out life-saving COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccination boosts Sierra Leone’s Ebola prevention

While the 2014–2016 deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa devastated lives and wrecked health services, it also offered pivotal lessons in outbreak control by stoking swift and more effective response as well as driving progress in vaccines and therapeutics.

Guinea’s Minister of Health explains what it took to end Ebola

The Ebola outbreak that erupted in Guinea in early 2021 was declared over on 19 June, just four months after the first cases were confirmed in a rural community in the south of the country. Banking on the lessons learned from the deadly 2014–2016 outbreak as well as a growing national expertise, a prompt response was mounted, helping to curb widespread infection. Minister of Health Honourable Dr Rémy Lamah explains what it took to halt the virus and the challenges met.

Leaving a legacy after Ebola in Guinea

It is a quiet morning at an Ebola treatment centre in the outskirts of N’zerekore, a town in the south-east of Guinea. The centre’s triage and reception areas are all empty, and medical staff are relaxed and jovial as they tend to a small handful of patients or catch up on some administrative tasks in the office.

Giving 110%: Eswatini’s early rollout of COVID-19 vaccines 

“I didn’t think that I could get COVID out here in my village,” says Linda Simelane at her home in Sibebe in rural Eswatini.

“I stay away from people, I stay alone, but it happened that I started getting flu symptoms.” 

At the peak of Africa’s first wave of infections in mid-2020, Ms Simelane’s son took her to get tested for COVID-19, but as she waited for her results at home, her condition rapidly deteriorated.

Filling the gaps in oral health services in Africa

More than 480 million people in the African region suffer from oral diseases such as dental caries and periodontal diseases, yet oral health remains a low priority in many countries, leading to inadequate financial and technical investment that undermine prevention and care services.

How Senegal prepared for COVID-19 surge

As the second wave of COVID-19 infections surged in early 2021, Senegal stepped up measures to cope with the anticipated rise in the number of patients needing critical care. Professor Daye Ka, Infectious and Tropical Disease Expert and member of Senegal’s COVID-19 task force, explains the steps taken to avert hospitals being overrun by a drastic rise in critically ill patients.

Tackling surges in severe COVID-19 cases in Africa

Africa has the highest global mortality rate among critically ill COVID-19 patients despite having the world’s lowest COVID-19 infections and deaths overall, a recent study published by the Lancet found. Shortage of critical care resources and their underuse are some of the contributing factors. Dr Christian Owoo, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anaesthesia, University of Ghana Medical School and a Consultant Anaesthetist/Intensivist and Head of Intensive Care Unit at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, discusses ways to prevent severe COVID-19 illness and avert a surge in deaths.