August 13, 2020 | by Barbara Dunlap-Berg
When Elisha Friday Ishaya, Allen S.D. Zomonway and Elalie Tshipeng Kambaj graduated from Africa University, they were excited about providing the best health care possible. Then COVID-19 hit.
The three graduates had been looking forward to working with patients, serving with competent medical teams, garnering financial support from generous donors and improving health outcomes for the communities they serve.
But by Aug. 9, the 55 African Union Member States reporting COVID-19 data had recorded more than a million cases and 23,000 deaths. According to the World Health Organization, more than 10,000 health workers in the 40 African countries that report such data have been infected.
Job descriptions changed overnight, and health care workers faced a host of new challenges, including lack of protective equipment and medication, funding gaps, food insecurity and poor information systems, to name a few.
“Despite the fact that the pandemic has been ongoing globally for over five months,” Ishaya said, “many still don’t believe that the coronavirus exists. All over the major cities, people can be seen not adhering to social distancing guidelines, not using masks, and not wearing gloves or sanitizing their hands.”