Amref Launches Study on COVID-19 Response Governance

by Amref Health Africa

COVID-19 Response Governance Mapping Initiative outlines need for accountability and transparency at all levels of governance to deliver sustainable, effective and inclusive interventions during and after the pandemic.

Nairobi, December 10th, 2020: Amref Health Africa has launched the COVID-19 Response Governance Mapping Initiative, a study on the sustainability and effectiveness of COVID-19 response efforts implemented in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Senegal and Malawi.

The initiative is a joint project between researchers based at AMREF International University (Kenya) The University of Edinburgh (Scotland), the Somali Institute of Development Research and Analysis, the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), the University of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo), the National Institute of Public Health in Burundi, the University of Sydney (Australia), and UC Louvain (Belgium).

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the challenges in health systems and demonstrated the importance of strong and effective governance in response efforts. As such, the study examined the pandemic response governance under three levels of information: political and legal order, key actors involved, and the nature of measures taken.

The study also identified executive committees as the primary decision makers in the COVID-19 response, with advisory committees established to advise decision makers and coordination committees set up to manage the implementation of policies and measures. These key actors, drawn from existing and newly established task force groups, cut across government institutions, security agencies, private sector, civil society and religious groups, business and the scientific community.

The African countries reviewed revealed similarities in policies and measures taken to control the spread of COVID-19. At the core of efforts to respond to the pandemic, countries declared states of emergency, enforced mandatory lockdowns and travel restrictions, banned public gatherings and prescribed quarantine measures.

Unsystematic execution of select policies and measures led to a notable increase in stigmatization of COVID-19, violation of human rights including the freedom of information and expression, and double standards towards adherence to measures especially by the political class. These loopholes led to protests, injury and loss of life, shut down of internet services and censorship and gagging of media, exposing the lack of accountability by key actors involved.

The findings of the study showcase the indispensable need for accountability in governance related to provision of essential services, emergency responses, intergovernmental and private sector coordination, and community engagement during the pandemic. It also offers key lessons to ensure effective response efforts are sustainable and effective, including:

  • Clearly defined roles, responsibilities and lines of command
  • Co-existence between science and politics
  • Obedience to stipulated health guidelines
  • Implementation of proper mechanisms to tackle misinformation
  • Increase in security surveillance to enforce COVID-19 measures
  • Increase of COVID-19 awareness campaigns

‘‘Governance involving health actors needs to have moral and ethical considerations. When lives are at stake, decision making on the acceptable, appropriate and sustainable measures and policies need to be for the greater good and protect people’s lives,” said Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO, Amref Health Africa. He added: “Strengthening governance related to planning, coordination and implementation of COVID-19 response efforts needs accountability and transparency to enhance public participation, protect people’s lives and increase effectiveness of emergency response.”

The COVID-19 Response Governance Mapping Initiative launch occurs concurrently with the launch of three other studies led by Amref: Impact of Community Led Alternative Rites of Passage on Eradication of FGM/C in Kajiado County, Kenya & The Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on FGM/C and Child, Early and Forced Marriages in Kenya; Impact of COVID-19 on HIV/AIDS Programming in Kenya and Lived Experiences of Youth During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for Policy and Program Considerations in Kenya.


Notes to Editors

About Amref Health Africa

Amref Health Africa, headquartered in Kenya, is the largest Africa-based International Non-Governmental Organisation (INGO). With a focus on increasing sustainable health access, Amref runs programmes in over 35 countries in Africa, with lessons learnt over 60 years of engagement with governments, communities and partners. Amref Health Africa also engages in programme development, fundraising, partnership, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation, and has offices in Europe and North America as well as subsidiaries: Amref Flying Doctors, Amref Enterprises and the Amref International University.

For more information contact:

Elizabeth (Lizz) Ntonjira

Global Communication Director

Amref Health Africa
Email: [email protected]

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