Search

WHO team now in South Africa to respond to COVID-19

Updated: Mar 26, 2021


World Health Organization
With South Africa now among the top five of the world’s most affected countries, it is critical to strengthen its COVID-19 response. PHOTO: ImageCollab

The South African COVID-19 response is now bolstered by a surge team of health experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) with the WHO deploying 43 experts from various fields to support the COVID-19 outbreak response management. The first 17 health experts arrived on 5 August and include key expertise in epidemiology, surveillance, case management, infection, prevention and control, procurement, as well as community mobilization and health education. Among them is Dr David Heymann, an infectious disease epidemiologist and public health expert, who was at one-time assistant director-general for Health Security and Environment at WHO. He headed the response to the SARS epidemic in 2003 working with his team to mediate international efforts to halt the pandemic. With South Africa now among the top five of the world’s most affected countries, it is critical to strengthen its COVID-19 response. These deployments emanated from continued discussions between Dr Zweli Mkhize, the minister of health and the WHO global and regional leadership. Dr Owen Kaluwa, South Africa’s representative for the WHO, says at this time when the COVID 19 epidemic in South Africa is spreading rapidly, it is important we work together to intensify our fight against the virus. He says for this reason, the WHO is ramping up support to complement national and provincial efforts to scale-up the response. “Our collective efforts are necessary to identify cases, isolate and provide care, follow up contacts and fully implement physical distancing and other key public health measures. In this way, we will minimize the spread and impact of COVID19. The WHO is primarily responsible for funding the international surge team, while South Africa is largely responsible for providing administrative resources for smooth initiation and integration of the partnership,” says Dr Kaluwa. The surge team will be jointly led by Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Africa’s regional director at the WHO and Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme. They will work virtually from Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo and Geneva, Switzerland r