In Africa, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Egypt on 14th of February, 2020.1 By March 2020, several countries had started implementing stricter control measures that include lockdowns, curfews, schools closure, ban on large gatherings (e.g. religious, sports, funerals, and other social events), systematic quarantines, and strict infection control measures.2 On 11th of March, 2020 the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic.3 By 2nd July, 2021 09:00 GMT, 182,101,209 cumulative cases had been recorded worldwide with 3,950,876 cumulative deaths. Of these cumulative figures, Africa accounted only 2.2% of the cases and 2.4% of the global deaths.4 In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa makes ‘a special case’ in that the continent has a fragile health system and globally, it bears the most of the HIV and malaria burden. In response, the Global Fund introduced the COVID-19 Response Mechanism (C19RM) to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on HIV, TB and malaria (HTM) programs.5 This write-up shares country experiences, lessons learnt and best practices in maintaining HTM service delivery in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With funding support from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, the African Constituency Bureau for the Global Fund conducted a series of virtual sessions with countries in the East and Southern Africa and the West and Central Africa constituencies. This was between November 2020 and June 2021 in order to document experiences, share lessons learned and best practices in accessing the C19RM support and maintaining HTM services while mitigating the adverse impact of COVID-19. Topics for discussion were diagnostics and treatment, supply chain management, health financing, human resources for health (HRH), adolescents girls and young women (AGYW), and COVID-19 vaccination. During each session, three pre-selected countries presented their experiences on a given topic, then this was followed by plenary discussions. An in-depth analysis of each of the above topics is currently being shared separately through a series of factsheets.