on Wednesday, 08 April 2020.

“Health Workers for All and All for Health Workers” Slogan of the First Global Forum on Human Resources for Health
“Our job is to ensure access to a skilled, supported and motivated health worker for every person in every village everywhere” Dr. J W Lee, former WHO Director General.
In these trying times of the COVID -19 pandemic, there are Health Workforce (HWF) issues that keep recurring in all countries. Yet HWF is one of the most critical inputs into the pandemic control response. This message needs to be appreciated by all intersetoral actors in governments and the general population. There are persistent complaints about lack of protective equipment, long working hours, hazards of travel to and from work in the face of lock down regulations and lack of support to undertake non COVID related medical work leading to collateral damage to public health.
“Health Workers for All and All for Health Workers” was the slogan of the First Global Forum on Human Resources for Health in 2008. Another related trending theme at that time and still relevant today is the quote from Dr. J W Lee that “Our job is to ensure access to a skilled, supported and motivated health worker for every person in every village everywhere”.
Let us take the discussion forward based on this quotation:
1. Skilled HWF need general knowledge, attitudes and skills for good and bad times and the required competencies for this are:
• Prepared to work where services are most needed: selection process, attitudes, socially accountable
• Able to respond to health needs of community: training in real life situations in community
• Able to deliver quality care with available (limited) resources. (Achieving the most with available resources.)
• Clinical excellence as foundation for teaching and research.
• Able to be leader, manager , teacher and change agent: mentors
• Continuous self-directed learners
• Effective communicators: team based learning, practice
The HWF also needs to be prepared and fit for purpose to handle the special skills for COVID-19 and the required competencies are:
• Full understanding of Infection control practices including correct use of PPEs
• Knowledge of Novel Corona virus behavior and its manifestations especially modes of transmission, symptoms, signs and complications
• Team work and empathy with ability to delegate skills through Task Shifting approach

2. Supported HWF should have:
• Enjoy the full support of political leadership with established structures for HWF planning and management embracing all relevant sectors
• Enjoy full support supervision of competent technical leaders with clear structures for dialogue and communication
• Enjoy the full support and understanding of the general population
• Have access to the tools that they require for their work such as PPEs, supplies,
• Organized and well led HWF with a critical mass of individuals professional associations and other institutions that work with their respective governments as both support and accountability agents, for sustaining highly performing health systems

COVID-19: Coping with stress, fear and anxiety

on Tuesday, 07 April 2020.

I was a bit excited when my country announced home isolation as a key measure to stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. It would be comforting to just stay home, or so I thought.
I was wrong! Barely a week into home confinement, I was doubly stressed. I missed being free to move to wherever and whenever I wanted. I suddenly missed travelling by bodaboda and commuter taxi, or running my otherwise hectic daily errands. There were days I woke up angry for no reason at all. It was frustrating.
While I have had to devise ways to cope by including exercises and games amidst my schedule – office work, parenting and house chores – I still involuntarily get nervous. I worry about how much longer we are likely to be stuck in our homes; and how we will be able to put the next meal on the table – if the COVID-19 infection persists. I worry about the economic crisis in the aftermath of COVID19. It is frightening.
From the conversations with friends over the telephone or social media platforms, it is easy to tell that isolation is taking a toll on many people. Families whose loved ones are being quarantined or have tested positive have to bear untold distress. It must be worse for those who are in quarantine centers, receiving treatment. Households that live hand-to-mouth particularly spend sleepless nights with untold fear of what the next day holds. Health workers who are at the front-line have to endure fatigue, irritability, and a sense of helplessness especially as people continue to be infected or succumb to the infections.
What’s worse? The statistics are disturbing. The number of deaths has more than doubled in the past week. As of April 1, 2020, the World Health Organization indicated that the coronavirus has infected more than 900,000 and left more than 45,000 dead. WHO predicted that in next few days, the statistics would reach 1 million confirmed COVID-19 case, and 50, 000 deaths.

Somber as the picture looks, it is important to focus on the positive side, by focusing on what is within our control. Recently, the WHO Mental Health Department issued self-help tips for the general population, health workers, and families  It cautioned every individual to minimize watching, reading or listening to news about COVID-19 that causes anxiety ; but seek information only from trusted sources to get facts not rumours and misinformation.


on Tuesday, 07 April 2020.

Dear Colleagues,

In the wake of COVID-19 control effort, here is an insightful contribution by Dr David Okello.

“This is a time for prudence, not panic. Science, not stigma. Facts, not fear. Even though the situation has been classified as a pandemic, it is one we can control...” --UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

With the COVID-19 infections now confirmed in African countries, governments have put in place various measures to contain the spread of the outbreak. These measures include screening of suspected cases, contact tracing, public education on hand washing and avoiding touching the face, isolation of confirmed cases, and physical distancing – closure of schools and large public gatherings and complete lockdown of movement of people including curfews. All these measures are normal public health procedures used in disease outbreak control.

As time passes, it has become clear that the ramifications of COVID-19 go well beyond the realms of the health sector. The lockdown of business activities and confining people in their homes is having major social, psychological and economic ramifications. Already, Africa is watching a potential health disaster quickly turn into an economic and social crisis.


on Tuesday, 07 April 2020.

Communities will be in charge of their destiny as the first line of defense against epidemics and take care of their health within Integrated People Centered Primary Health Care that "leaves no one behind".

The challenge and opportunity presented by COVID – 19 should be used to activate and institutionalize this approach so that after the current crisis it becomes the routine component of the public health system that puts priority on health promotion and disease prevention. Indeed the Whole of Society Approach goes beyond outbreak control and can also ensure that mothers attend ante natal clinics, children are immunized, the nearest health facility has required personnel and supplies, the referral system is in place, the correct food crops are grown and stored properly, all children are going to school, the rural road network is maintained, the water sources are safe and law and order is enforced etc.

This Whole of Society Approach can be rolled out immediately and quickly in most countries once the African Heads State and Governments call for them and assign roles in the same way that they have demonstrated unparalleled leadership by taking charge and issuing various directives on COVID -19 control across the continent.

Let us mobilize all people to delay that day when microorganisms will prevail over humans.

What do you all think?