LAWRENCE — Researchers from the University of Kansas are monitoring and evaluating COVID-19 response activities in 47 African countries. The project — in partnership with the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa — is led by KU’s Center for Community Health and Development, a designated WHO Collaborating Centre since 2004. The center is affiliated with KU's Department of Applied Behavioral Science and the Life Span Institute.
The monitoring system is designed to capture and communicate COVID-19 response activities, such as programs and policies related to infection-control and risk communication, in order to help eliminate transmission of the disease.
The KU-WHO team leads training of partners from 47 African countries so they can monitor and communicate their countries’ progress in responding to the pandemic.
“Our partner, the WHO Regional Office for Africa, has the responsibility of supporting countries in monitoring and evaluating response activities related to COVID-19,” said Stephen Fawcett, senior adviser at the KU center and co-director of KU’s WHO Collaborating Centre for Community Health and Development. “This work is critical to each country being able to show progress in taking action and in using data to make adjustments related to suppression of transmission and follow-on recovery. We worked together with our WHO AFRO partners to evaluate the Ebola response in 2014, so the regional office reached out to us for similar technical support with the COVID-19 response.”
On May 27, the KU-WHO AFRO team launched monitoring and evaluation (M&E) training with the first cohort: 200 participants working in 29 different African countries. This training will continue with French-speaking countries in early June until all 47 African countries have been engaged.
The WHO M&E team is based in the WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville-Congo.
“The WHO AFRO M&E team includes staff trained by the KU team in monitoring and evaluation of the COVID-19 response,” Fawcett said. “WHO focal points will be reporting from their Ministry of Health offices in each of the 47 countries. Reports of COVID-19 response activities will be reviewed and characterized by the WHO AFRO M&E team, for example by the type of response activity, and by country in which they’re implemented. These data will be entered and stored in the online COVID-19 Response M&E System developed by the KU center.”
According to the KU researcher, the online COVID-19 Response M&E System is able to capture response activities and support communication using online graphs of the pattern in COVID-19 response — for instance, when increasing and decreasing — and factors associated with those patterns.
“This will contribute to country-level reports of the association of response activities and suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19,” Fawcett said. “This participatory M&E system will enable systematic reflection by country partners in what they are seeing, what it means and implications for adjustment.”
Peter Phori, technical officer at the WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, leads the M&E team.
“Capturing and communicating what countries are doing to respond to COVID-19 is essential to tracking what we are doing to address this pandemic in the African region,” Phori said. “Our WHO Regional Office relies on KU’s WHO Collaborating Centre for its world-leading technical support in monitoring and evaluation. We could not do this without them.”
The KU WHO Collaborating Centre team, including Fawcett and Ruaa Hassaballa, is supported by an initial six-month grant of $30,000 from the WHO Regional Office for Africa.
“As a designated WHO Collaborating Centre at KU, we have the privilege of working to have an impact with talented and committed global partners,” Fawcett said. “This is why we came together as a KU center and why we treasure being a part of KU’s mission of building healthy communities — locally and globally.”
Top image: Virtual training held with the World Health Organization Regional Offices in 47 countries in Africa on May 27.
Top right image: Stephen Fawcett, senior adviser at the KU Center for Community Health and Development and co-director of KU’s WHO Collaborating Centre for Community Health and Development.
Middle right image: Peter Phori, technical officer at the WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville.
Bottom right image: Stephen Fawcett participating in a meeting with colleagues from WHO AFRO in 2017.
Photo credits: Courtesy of KU Center for Community Health and Development.