Due to the new escalating cases and the development of new strains of COVID-19 worldwide, reasons exist to worry about the impact of COVID-19 on developing African nations. Many are concerned that these countries do not have the same financial and health resources to fight the virus and protect their citizens as western industrialized nations do. However, Senegal, a small West African nation of 16.3 million inhabitants, might be an exception. Foreign Policy magazine released an analysis suggesting that Senegal ranks second of 36 countries in how well it has managed and resisted the pandemic. How does Senegal use its six essential strategies to effectively combat COVID-19? An examination of some of Senegal’s strategies and best practices can shed light on how it has handled the COVID-19 pandemic from its onset to February 2021.
The first strategy in the fight against COVID-19 in Senegal is its high-priority testing for its citizens. Testing is easy to obtain and readily accessible. Thanks to the efficacy of the Institut Pasteur in Senegal, people can obtain their test results in as little as eight hours. The program operates 24-hours a day and the entire country has access to testing. For those with symptoms, the test is free. Clearly, this has helped stop several chains of transmission. Additionally, the Institut Pasteur is currently developing a home test-kit in collaboration with U.K. company, Mologic. Med-tech news confirmed on its website that the partnership already began trials in January 2021 in Dakar, and they intend to start trials in the U.S. and Indonesia as well.
The Development of New Tools
The second strategy is to develop tools for the future. Possessing locally manufactured and innovative testing has been a trademark of Senegal. A home test to check for antibodies in previously infected individuals is close to delivery. Both the Institut Pasteur and Mologic are partnering to make sure the cost is minimal. Dr. Joel Fitchett, medical director for Mologic, stated, “What we’re trying to achieve here is to deliver high-performance, low-cost devices that do not profit [the UK] because if we profit here, we only prolong this pandemic.”
Senegal is building state-of-the-art laboratories. The construction of a laboratory site, DiaTropix, at the Institut Pasteur began in 2019 for the diagnostics of Ebola and yellow fever. Since early 2020, it became equipped with COVID-19 testing, making the implementation and validation of COVID-19 testing swift in Senegal. Furthermore, by making “smaller manufacturing lines closer to demand,” Senegal’s health system has now established a sustainable system with the ability to address a number of epidemics more quickly.
Testing Accessibility for Travelers
The fourth strategy in the eradication of COVID-19 in Senegal is COVID-19 test affordability and rapidity for travelers coming in or out of Senegal. The Institut Pasteur makes it easy and affordable for travelers to obtain tests by offering testing seven days of the week including holidays. It can occur at the cost of $73 (West African CFA francs 40,000). As close as 48 hours before traveling, one can easily obtain a test and receive results within eight hours.
Senegal remains at the forefront of the COVID-19 fight in Africa and worldwide. Senegal’s Institut Pasteur was one of only two labs in Africa that had the equipment to test COVID-19 and has continued to lead the way for COVID-19 testing and prevention ever since. The Institut Pasteur’s director, Dr. Amadou Sall, and his team have trained staff from a dozen other African countries on how to test COVID-19. Dr. Amadou Sall’s years of experience, high level of competency and expertise account for a lot of Senegal’s success in preventing the spread of COVID-19. His research covers diagnostics, ecology and evolution of arboviruses and viral hemorrhagic fevers. With more than 100 papers and book chapters, and more than 150 scientific communications, Dr. Amadou Sall is a world leader and accredited expert in this fast-evolving pandemic.
The sixth strategy is the efficient and pro-active governmental action against COVID-19 in Senegal. President Macky Sall took action early against the first coronavirus wave with a curfew in March 2020. Due to the risk of becoming unpopular, the president imposed a new curfew in January 2021.
Moreover, President Sall recently thanked Senegalese artists for helping to communicate the importance of prevention measures. He stated, “I am grateful to artists…. and other stars who turned to song, or painted murals, making it crystal-clear what was required of our people to stay safe. Washing hands, wearing masks, keeping your distance are simple instructions, so why complicate them? Why mess around, confusing the message, delaying the action and losing momentum?”
These are some of the most noteworthy strategies and best practices that combat COVID-19 in Senegal. Nevertheless, Senegalese people also deserve substantial credit for following safety measures at the expense of their jobs and communal lifestyle.
– Elhadj Oumar Tall