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Magnus Conteh, Last Mile Health

Devex - 21. Juli 2020 - 14:57
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Learning from the best: Evaluating Africa’s COVID-19 responses

INCLUDE Platform - 21. Juli 2020 - 13:26

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing health care and disaster management systems of countries and the agility of policy responses to effectively handle a public health catastrophe. Since the first reported case in Africa on February 14, countries in the region have responded to the disease with varying levels of success, with many countries taking the lead in various ways. For example, on March 4, Nigeria was the first African country to sequence the SARS-CoV-2 genome. South Africa is now leading the continent in testing per capita—27,485 tests per million people as of July 1—currently ranked 19th globally.

Indeed, from Cape Town to Cairo, many countries have seized the opportunity to combine both existing emergency health care protocols and innovation to improve response effectiveness, from building affordable ventilators to using digital and emerging technologies for tracking and other economic activities.

In the sections that follow, we share some of the outstanding responses to COVID-19 from the region, derive key insights and important opportunities from the responses, and recommend policy actions for moving forward. For a wider look at global, as well as African, success stories, see the our recent paper, “Learning from the best: Evaluating COVID-19 responses and what Africa can learn.”

Necessity is spurring great innovation across Africa

In Senegal, researchers developed an immune-based diagnostic test for COVID-19 available for only $1 while engineering students built a multifunctional medical robot to lessen the load on health care workers. Ghana has also produced a low-cost COVID-19 antibody test currently undergoing regulatory reviews. Kenya converted existing factories to mask production, with a production target of tens of millions. Other African countries quickly followed with the countries with stronger manufacturing capabilities coming out on top.

The breakdown of supply chains has offered opportunities for e-commerce solutions. Rwanda, for instance, was able to go cashless because of its high level of preparedness for a digital economy. Notably, to reinforce barrier and distancing measures, the government of Rwanda waived transaction fees on mobile payment transactions while mobile companies further optimized features on mobile payments.

Ghana is using Zipline drones to take samples to testing sites. In a good example of reverse engineering, the United States is also using Zipline drones for similar tasks after successful pilot programs conducted in Africa. Rwanda has used locally assembled drones to increase awareness through in-flight public broadcasts, and robots to screen and monitor COVID-19 patients.

Right now, 297 million learners in Africa are out of school because of the pandemic. As a result, KenyaSouth AfricaEgypt, and Morocco, alongside many other countries, have launched e-learning platforms in partnership with national broadcasters, telecoms, and private players. However, while maintaining and increasing access to education is a vital step during the pandemic, it is too early to tell if students are actually learning.

Despite the pivotal role technology is playing in responding to COVID-19 as illustrated in the examples mentioned above, data and privacy protection challenges expose the tensions that exist between rights and responsibilities during a crisis.

More needs to be done

Given the continent’s weak medical systems, many have turned to other solutions. Several African countries such as the Republic of the CongoGuinea-Bissau, and Tanzania have ordered and received shipments of Madagascar’s COVID-19 organic “remedy;” notably, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) have offered to support the design of a study to test the efficacy of the organic product. Pursuant to this matter, the Malagasy government (as the primary sponsor) has since registered a clinical trial to test the efficacy of the product (now in capsule form) on a Pan African Clinical Trials registry.

Results from these trials will be critical in how Africa responds to future shocks. In fact, there are many medicinal plants that have been part of the treatment plans in African homes. It is time for the continent to take these treatments seriously and take them through systematic validation processes to establish efficacy. Indeed, consistent investment in the research of indigenous plants and scientific trials before getting to market are crucial for protecting and prioritizing the health and safety of African people.

Where available, contextual data modeling has been impactful, but more is still needed

Data modeling assists governments in predicting the evolution of the pandemic against the prescribed confinement and de-confinement measures. It can also provide innovative solutions for Africa’s context. For example, to counter the limited availability of diagnostic test kits, Rwanda adopted mathematical modeling to implement a pool testing method that reduces the number of tests required for an accurate infection count.

The South African government proactively set up a National COVID-19 Modelling Consortium as the primary source for all COVID-19-related projections. A Ph.D. student there developed an intuitive web-based COVID-19 dashboard to share real-time updates on the pandemic in South Africa and other countries.

However, data modeling capacity on the continent is still very low. Centers like the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), which launched a master’s degree program in machine intelligence in 2018, are critical for building data modeling capacity. Investments to scale these centers and other training and research institutes in data science are vital for the development of human capital in the field.

Beyond capacity building, more needs to be done to build resilient infrastructure as well as provide researchers access to data with specific research and policy goals given that the devastation of the climate crisis will only get worse, and Africa is already feeling its impact.

So far, data collected on the continent presents marked differences in infection rates between urban and rural areas. For example, Senegal’s capital city of Dakar has accounted for the majority of the country’s infections—providing an important incentive for building better urban health and planning foresight capacity.

Key lessons for Africa

Given these success stories, here are the most important lessons that emerge from our recent assessment:

  • Decisive leadership that stands on sound and contextual scientific, economic, and social advice, not political expediency, is key to accelerate containment and recovery.
  • Full lockdowns are not sustainable in Africa for periods longer than a couple of weeks, even with some social protection.
  • African countries with strong local manufacturing capabilities will recover faster.
  • Strong willingness to adopt and deploy new technologies has been to Africa’s advantage, but this should be more systematic (see NEF Innovation Framework) with clear financial instruments.
  • Countries like Taiwan set up a task force to review and fund innovative startups. Like in Taiwan, African innovation task forces and funds need to be more agile without sacrificing safety and quality.
  • The continent needs to invest in data modeling capacity to assist governments in contextual decisionmaking.
  • More funding should be made available toward the improvement of Africa’s indigenous plants research and clinical trial capacity more generally.
Policy Recommendations

We recommend governments adopt the following strategies contextually to prepare for future public health shocks. Governments should:

  1. Put in place sustainable, early response mechanisms supported by an innovation-friendly regulatory framework, sound infrastructure, and adequate funding to operationalize such plans. Governments should start building strategic funds early to build reserves of strategic stocks for health care emergencies.
  2. Promote multiple helix partnerships to unlock innovative capacity across sectors and explore the use of emerging technologies with ethical oversight and leverage the ongoing efforts to promote local production over imports.
  3. Adopt a common Pan-African vision and strategy for research and development that effectuates funding mechanisms from research to industrialization.
  4. Support this vision by leveraging a data-driven knowledge ecosystem, increasing centers of excellence and regional laboratories as well as investing in clinical trials capacity.
This blog was first published on the Brookings Website. Access the original post here.

Het bericht Learning from the best: Evaluating Africa’s COVID-19 responses verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

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Organic defaults in online‐shopping: immediate effects but no spillover to similar choices

GDI Briefing - 21. Juli 2020 - 8:48

Changing defaults—the preselection that becomes effective without active choice—is becoming a prominent policy tool, after having been proven to be effective in areas as varied as retirement savings, organ donation and product customization. Yet, little is known about how default effects spill over to subsequent similar behaviors. In an online shopping scenario, we found standard default effects on the share of organically produced products in the overall selection of products. These effects did not spill over to subsequent active shopping choices. This was true for defaults that were hard and easy to change (Exp. 1, N = 90), for immediate and delayed subsequent choices (Exp. 2, N = 106) and for self-selected defaults (Exp. 3, N = 181). These findings suggest that the reach and scalability of default manipulations in policy making may be limited, but also speak against the possibility for negative spillover.

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Three ways digital technology can help drug makers fight COVID-19

ODI - 21. Juli 2020 - 0:00
Covid-19 is disrupting the pharma industry, but digital technology can make the sector more diverse and flexible.
Kategorien: english

Targeted interventions are vital to make universal health coverage a reality for all

ODI - 21. Juli 2020 - 0:00
Covid-19 has exposed the need for universal health coverage, but overcoming barriers to access for vulnerable groups is vital for it to work.
Kategorien: english

Lend or suspend? Maximising the impact of multilateral bank financing in the Covid-19 crisis

ODI - 21. Juli 2020 - 0:00
This paper looks at the role of multilateral development banks in the financial response to Covid-19.
Kategorien: english

The new information reality

ODI - 21. Juli 2020 - 0:00
The manipulation of public narratives for political or personal gain is an urgent problem for democracy and a pressing threat to development.
Kategorien: english

Global cooperation key to eradicating deadly pig virus: UN agency

UN ECOSOC - 20. Juli 2020 - 20:06
A disease that may kill every pig it infects and for which there is no effective vaccine, can be eradicated if more countries continue to work together to limit its spread, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Monday.
Kategorien: english

First-ever World Chess Day, helps calm nerves during COVID-19 pandemic

UN #SDG News - 20. Juli 2020 - 17:56
With the COVID-19 pandemic leading to a pause for most sport worldwide, the UN has been celebrating a highly-competitive game that you can play safely indoors or online – with the added bonus of helping reduce anxiety, and improving mental health: Monday marks the first ever World Chess Day.
Kategorien: english

Young innovators vying for top UN environmental prize

UN #SDG News - 20. Juli 2020 - 17:11
Thirty-five young people with innovative ideas for tackling challenges such as protecting indigenous Amazonian land through adventure travel, converting harmful emissions into valuable commodities in the United States, and generating electricity from water in Nigeria, have been named as regional finalists for one of the UN’s most prestigious environmental awards.
Kategorien: english

How Slumping Oil Prices and COVID-19 Are Shaking Up the Geopolitics of the Middle East

UN Dispatch - 20. Juli 2020 - 17:09

As the Coronavirus Pandemic tore through the world this spring, it resulted in sharply lower demand for oil, driving down prices. Added to this, Russia and Saudi Arabia got into an oil price war that brought the price of oil to near historic low levels.

Needless to say, the low price of oil has deeply impacted countries in the region who rely on oil wealth. This includes not only oil-rich gulf countries, but also governments and other groups that rely on aid derived from oil largesse.

My guest today, Mohammed Soliman is a Non-Resident Scholar with the Middle East Institute and a member of the McLarty Associates MENA Practice. We kick off discussing how wealthy Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar used their oil wealth in the wake of the Arab Spring to shore up domestic stability and pursue their regional foreign policy goals. We then have an extended conversation about the ways in which COVID-19 and slumping oil prices are shaking up the foundations of the geopolitics of the Middle East.

 

This episode was recorded as a live taping of the podcast, produced in partnership with Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, YPFP.

Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post How Slumping Oil Prices and COVID-19 Are Shaking Up the Geopolitics of the Middle East appeared first on UN Dispatch.

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PRESS RELEASE - Vague promises won't solve global crises

Global Policy Forum - 20. Juli 2020 - 14:35

Bonn/New York, 16 July 2020

On 16 July, this year's virtual UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development came to an end. The HLPF is the premier UN body to monitor the annual progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) worldwide. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated inequalities and further endangered development gains already at risk prior to the global pandemic. Millions of people globally are already suffering from hunger and poverty and now lives and livelihoods are threatened as a result of the vast socio-economic effects of COVID-19. Among the objectives of the 2020 HLPF includes identifying how the international community can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that will support achievement of the SDGs in the remaining "Decade of Action" to go until 2030. But the fact that Member States failed to adopt a strong Ministerial Declaration is extremely disappointing and does not match the enormous challenges ahead.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Anforderungen an wirkungsvolle Multi-Stakeholder-Initiativen zur Stärkung unternehmerischer Sorgfaltspflichten - Empfehlungen aus Sicht der Zivilgesellschaft

Global Policy Forum - 20. Juli 2020 - 10:37

Zur Stärkung unternehmerischer Verantwortung entlang von Liefer- und Wertschöpfungsketten wird national und international vielfach auf sogenannte Multi-Stakeholder-Initiativen (MSI) gesetzt. Zuletzt kündigte das Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales (BMAS) an, sich im Rahmen der deutschen EU-Ratspräsidentschaft verstärkt für EU-weite Branchendialoge einsetzen zu wollen.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Protected: Launched: new African Policy Dialogues focussing on youth, women & smallholder farmers

INCLUDE Platform - 20. Juli 2020 - 10:23

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Het bericht Protected: Launched: new African Policy Dialogues focussing on youth, women & smallholder farmers verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

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FROM THE FIELD: Frontline resilience in Somalia

UN #SDG News - 18. Juli 2020 - 6:30
 One hundred thousand households in Somaliland in northwest Somalia have better access to water, protecting them not just from the ravages of climate change but also against the spread of COVID-19, thanks to a project supported by the UN Development Programme.  
Kategorien: english

World’s poorest being pushed ‘closer to the abyss’ of famine, warns WFP chief

UN #SDG News - 17. Juli 2020 - 21:50
Hunger threatens to soar to devastating levels in 25 countries in the coming months due to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are warning.
Kategorien: english

COVID-19 highlights need for renewed, inclusive multilateralism: UN chief

UN #SDG News - 17. Juli 2020 - 21:17
With the COVID-19 pandemic putting development gains at risk, exposing vulnerabilities and inequalities both within and among nations, the UN Secretary-General is urging governments to reexamine how they work together to solve global challenges.
Kategorien: english

WHO and UNICEF: “Alarming Decline” in Childhood Immunizations Due to COVID-19

UN Dispatch - 17. Juli 2020 - 17:55

For months, health experts working in underimmunized areas have warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is interrupting life-saving vaccination campaigns, particularly in poor countries. Now, a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF confirms there has been an “alarming decline” in childhood immunizations against diseases like measles, tetanus and diphtheria around the world.

More children than ever are being immunized, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press release, but the pandemic is putting those gains at risk. “The avoidable suffering and death caused by children missing out on routine immunizations could be far greater than COVID-19 itself,” he said.

Of the 82 countries who responded to a survey cited by the report, three-quarters reported that their immunization programs had been disrupted by COVID-19 as of May 2020. At least 30 measles vaccination campaigns were or are at risk of being canceled, which could lead to more outbreaks this year. And data from January to April suggests that for the first time in 28 years, the world could see a drop in the number of children receiving three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) – a marker for immunization coverage within and across countries. In 2019, 85 percent of children globally received their third DTP3 dose, but that still left nearly 20 million children – mostly in Africa – vulnerable to those vaccine-preventable diseases.

The survey also revealed a variety of reasons why immunization numbers are down: Half of the respondents mentioned that parents are reluctant to visit vaccination centers because they are afraid of being exposed to COVID-19. One-third cited other challenges, including limited public transport, lockdown measures and physical distancing policies. Health care workers have also been less available because of a lack of personal protective equipment, travel restrictions or being reassigned to COVID-response duties.

“COVID-19 has made previously routine vaccination a daunting challenge,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a press release.

The WHO and UNICEF are particularly worried because even before the pandemic, progress toward universal vaccination coverage (Sustainable Development Goal 3.b.1) was stalling and uneven. According to the report, there is a less than 20 percent chance that a child born today will be fully vaccinated with all the globally recommended vaccines by the time they’re five years old. Two-thirds of the 14 million children who missed out on life-saving vaccines last year are concentrated in 10 middle- and low-income countries: Angola, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Some countries, South Asia, have recorded significant progress over the last decade, increasing coverage for the third dose of DTP3 by 12 percentage points. That is now at risk of being reversed by COVID-19. But even more worrisome are regions like Latin America and the Caribbean, where coverage used to be high but has dropped precipitously over the last decade (by 14 percentage points in Brazil, Bolivia, Haiti and Venezuela).

In response, the WHO and UNICEF say they are helping countries safely deliver immunization services during the pandemic, communicate how services have been reconfigured for safety, fill gaps in coverage and continue to expand services.

“We must prevent a further deterioration in vaccine coverage and urgently resume vaccination programs before children’s lives are threatened by other diseases,” said Fore. “We cannot trade one health crisis for another.”

To learn more about how COVID-19 is disrupting routine childhood vaccinations worldwide, listen to this Global Dispatches podcast episode with Barbara Saitta, a nurse with Doctors without Borders  Medicines Sans Frontiers who specializes in vaccination campaigns: 

The post WHO and UNICEF: “Alarming Decline” in Childhood Immunizations Due to COVID-19 appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What will it take to decolonize global health?

Devex - 17. Juli 2020 - 13:49
Kategorien: english

Adapting to the new normal: the economic impact of COVID-19 in Central America

OECD - 17. Juli 2020 - 11:14
By Miguel Angel Medina Fonseca, Economist at Chief Economist Office, Central American Bank for Economic Integration This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing one of … Continue reading Adapting to the new normal: the economic impact of COVID-19 in Central America
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