Web Platform Helps Deploy, Manage Health Workers During Pandemic
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently launched a web-based platform, AVoHC Net, that lets officials quickly deploy and manage volunteer health workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The health workers are members of Africa Volunteer Health Corps, a “multidisciplinary team of experts” on standby to respond to public health emergencies around the continent, Merawi Aragaw, a medical epidemiologist who heads the Africa CDC’s Division of Emergency Preparedness and Response, told ADF in an email.
The goal is to “manage the AVoHC team members and the Emergency Response Workforces in [African Union] member states. This is a tool to recruit, train and manage the teams across different member states,” Aragaw said. “This platform will help for continuous engagement of the team during emergency and nonemergency times, give continued medical and public health education, and also serve as a knowledge management platform.”
The African Union established AVoHC, which has a current roster of 850 experts, in 2015, after the West African Ebola outbreak. Since the September 1, 2020, launch of AVoHC Net, the Africa CDC has deployed more than 240 experts to 22 African nations seeking assistance.
According to Aragaw, the CDC is processing requests for AVoHC assistance from five more AU member states and plans to deploy more experts in the coming weeks.
AVoHC teams include epidemiologists, laboratory experts, risk communication, infection prevention experts, and logisticians, among others, Aragaw told ADF.
“They work hand in hand with the government, align with and execute the government emergency response plan, and assist local capacity building and training, conduct laboratory diagnosis, contact tracing, data management and analysis,” he said. “Africa CDC will continue to deploy experts based on requests from” AU member states, Aragaw added.
The Africa CDC began managing AVoHC in 2017 to improve surge capacity support during public health emergencies. The first AVoHC teams deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo during an Ebola outbreak there.
COVID-19 underlined Africa’s need to understand what training the experts need when deployed to different parts of the continent. According to the Africa CDC, COVID-19 had infected more than 1.3 million Africans and killed more than 31,300 as of September 7.
“With AVoHC Net, Africa CDC will be in a better position to provide targeted workforce development support for public health emergencies as an integral part of the health systems strengthening agenda for Africa,” Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong said in a press release.