The World Health Organization (WHO) is collaborating with other health agencies and African governments to support training and guideline development on Covid-19 management to improve access to quality care for Covid-19 patients.
Disease Prevention and Control Officer at WHO office in Kenya Dr. Joyce Onsongo explained that WHO was working with clinicians and scientists around the world to improve on clinical research on various potential therapies for Covid-19 so as to guide the health workers in making the right choices in the management of Covid-19 patients.
While acknowledging that COVID-19 pandemic was continually evolving around the world and in the country, Dr. Onsongo said there was a need for generation of better ways to prevent and manage the pandemic through review of the existing containment guidelines and more research.
The WHO representative was speaking in Naivasha at a workshop to review Covid-19 case Management guidelines.
The workshop was attended by Chair of the Case Management Committee of the National Covid-19 Taskforce Dr. Loyce Achieng, senior officials from the Ministry of Health departments and regional referral hospitals, experts from Academia and Teaching and referral institutions including University of Nairobi, Kenyatta National hospital and MTRH as well as representatives from various county hospitals and private sector hospitals. Onsongo said confirmed Covid-19 cases in Africa was more than 6 million with over 152 000 deaths and a case fatality ratio of 2.7 as compared to the over 188,655,968 cases of Covid-19 and over 4,067,515 related deaths reported globally.
She however said the capacities of many African countries to manage cases had been stretched, with the recent Africa Covid-19 Critical Care Outcomes Study (ACCCOS) showing a rise in the number of the critically ill Coronavirus patients admitted to high or intensive care units.
She added that the study further revealed about 11-23 excess deaths per 100 patients, as compared to the global average of about 31.5 per cent which she said demonstrated the need to improve the access to and quality of care for Covid-19 patients in the African region.
Dr. Onsongo added that from evidence collected from other studies around the world, it was becoming more and more clear as to what works and what doesn’t in the management of Covid-19 patients citing the steroids such as dexamethasone coming first and followed by interleukin-6 receptor blockers such as tocilizumab which she said had shown to improve outcomes for severely ill patients.
On the other hand, she observed that other therapies such as hydroxychloroquine, and remdesivir had failed to demonstrate their value in improvement of outcomes for Covid-19 patients with many new variants with seemingly varied presentations and clinical courses emerging locally and around the world which further complicated Covid-19 management.
The WHO representative underscored the importance of Covid-19 management teamwork, through local, regional and global collaboration where experts from various medical fields, medical scientists, clinicians from both public and private facilities, and public health leaders come together and forge the way forward.
She said through knowledge and experience sharing, identification of best practices and the latest evidence in Covid-19 case management, the teams will be able to come up with the best and relevant guidelines to effectively manage the pandemic.
According to Dr. Onsongo, the revised guidelines to be generated by the workshop will help to ensure that clinicians managing Covid-19 cases in Kenya, will be guided by up-to-date, quality evidence in their practice, as the country grapples with current wave and subsequent surges.
She challenged Policy makers in public health sector to take note of the emerging changes and intricacies in Covid 19 management, as well as of the emerging evidence in order to ensure they put in place the right, up to date policies and strategies to prevent and detect cases, as well as provide the necessary resources for health systems to enable clinicians provide the best care possible for patients.
By Esther Mwangi and Erastus Gichohi