The Corona pandemic has had a strong impact on the cooperation within the HKP partnership projects. Since February, due to travel restrictions, the planned trips for mutual visits and training events have not been able to take place; instead, many partnerships have conducted training courses online. The safety of the African colleagues is a priority for their German partners, and part of the partnership funds have been invested in procuring protective masks, suits and disinfectants for the clinical staff in Africa. Some partnerships have procured medical equipment for the treatment of COVID-19 symptoms: e.g. the Medical Clinic for infectiology and pneumology of the Charité in Berlin has purchased 10 oxygen concentrators and sent them to its partner, the St. Francis Referral Hospital in Tanzania. The mobile oxygen concentrators require only electricity and are easier to use than ventilators. Tanzanian trainers have provided on-site training on the use of the oxygen concentrators.
In order to support the African partner country Ethiopia in containing COVID-19 , the microbiology laboratory of the Asella Teaching Hospital and the School of Health Sciences of Arsi University, in partnership with the Düsseldorf University Hospital, is functioning as a national SARS-CoV-2 test laboratory. Currently more than 1000 COVID-19 samples are tested there every week.
The HKP projects are supporting the maintenance of essential medical care in the partner countries. Charité’s Clinic for Infectiology has responded to the request of the tuberculosis programme in the Atsimon-Adrefana region in Madagascar. Due to the increasing burden of COVID-19 patients in the participating health centres and the lack of protective materials for the staff, there is a threat of closure of some health centres. In order to support the region in this emergency situation and to prevent the collapse of the local tuberculosis services, the partner Doctors for Madagascar with the National Tuberculosis Programme offers basic training in COVID-19 management and prevention for 84 health centres on site, and the trained centres are also being equipped with an initial stock of protective equipment.