COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Africa

Humanity needs leadership and
solidarity to defeat the coronavirus

The Coronavirus pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War Two. Since its emergence in Asia late last year, the virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica. Cases are rising daily in Africa, the Americas, and Europe.

Countries are racing to slow the spread of the disease by testing and treating patients, carrying out contact tracing, limiting travel, quarantining citizens, and cancelling large gatherings such as sporting events, concerts, and schools.


UNDP COVID-19 response in Africa

Every country needs to act immediately to prepare, respond, and recover. The UN system will support countries through each stage, with a focus on the most vulnerable.

Drawing on our experience with other outbreaks such as Ebola, HIV, SARS, TB and malaria, as well as our long history of working with the private and public sector, UNDP will help countries to urgently and effectively respond to COVID-19 as part of its mission to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and build resilience to crises and shocks.


“None of us is safe until all of us are safe and no one is left behind. That’s already one of the major lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while the challenges ahead are unprecedented, we should all take hope in the words of Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it is done.” UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa


We have been supporting countries since the very early stages of this crisis, securing masks and providing life supporting medical equipment such as ventilators, infrared thermometers, infusion pumps, protective suits, gloves and hand sanitizer.

  • In Zimbabwe, UNDP supports the informal sector by creating linkages with the rural farmers who now can longer bring their goods into the city. We are looking to work with the private sector to mitigate losses and strengthen supply management systems.
  • In Madagascar, medical waste shredders, personal protective equipment (PPE) and infectious waste management equipment has been delivered to hospitals in Antananarivo and Toamasina. Hospitals equipped with autoclaves by the UNOPS UNDP-GEF project are treating infectious waste from Covid-19 rapid screening tests on the island.
  • In Guinea Bissau, UNDP's support to health system strengthening, with funding from the Global Fund and operational support from World Bank includes a digital data package on malaria and other WHO notifiable diseases such as cholera, polio and yellow fever. This work has strengthened the capacity of the national government to track disease outbreaks and has now been extended to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The digital data package, established with support from UNDP, will allow the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to understand and respond to the pandemic.


In Guinea Bissau a digital data package supports COVID-19 surveillance. Photo: UNDP Guinea Bissau / Gwenn Dubourthoumieu

We are messaging widely, including through innovative digital technologies—taking advantage of the large number of Africans with smartphones — to highlight the simple actions that can keep you safe; such as frequent hand washing, staying home when sick and not touching your face. A recent initiative by UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, and WhatsApp established the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub which helps in spreading current, fact-checked information to health workers, educators, nonprofits, local governments, local businesses, communities, and their leaders.

It will require all of society to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to cushion the potentially devastating impact it may have on vulnerable people and economies.

We must rebuild trust and cooperation, within and among nations, and between people and their governments.

UNDP’s support will also help ensure that the responses of individual countries are comprehensive as well as equitable and inclusive, so that no one is left out and countries can continue to make progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 

While we do this, we must also consider ways to prevent a similar pandemic recurring. In the longer term, UNDP will look at ways to help countries to better prevent and manage such crises and ensure that the world makes full use of what we will learn from this one.

A global response now is an investment in our future.






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