SEATTLE, Washington — As of August 27, Senegal has experienced 13,186 cases of COVID-19, with 8,852 recovered and 275 deaths. With a population of 16,209,000, Senegal is combatting COVID-19 and working closely with humanitarian partners, such as UNICEF. Like many countries during this time, Senegal has felt the pinch of the economic and social recession happening around the world. Luckily, the Senegalese government has introduced supportive and rehabilitating programs for the country.
5 Ways Senegal is Combatting COVID-19 and Its Effects
- #LearningNeverStops: After the government closed schools across the country, the Minister of Education, Mahammad Dionne, recognized the need to create an accommodating plan that would ensure the continuation of education despite the circumstances. Dionne created a curriculum that would coincide with the Ministry of Health and Social Action as well as assess how learning will be conducted after the pandemic. The Ministry presented two plans. The first was online learning using a program that would collect information and resources to then release to parents, teachers and students. The section option used television. It included ideas such as broadcasting recorded lectures conducted by trained distance-learning educators. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has offered support to Senegal and its dedication to learning.
- Accessible and Affordable Testing: Researchers from the research lab Diatropix created a coronavirus testing kit. As of May, trials began for the kit. Supported by the Senegalese government, the tests are estimated to cost $1 and take only 10 minutes to produce a result. Depending on its success, tests may be available to citizens within the following months. The at-home tests can determine whether a patient is infected by analyzing their saliva or blood. According to its developers, the tests are very easy to distribute throughout the country. The director of the Pasteur Institute stated that the country could “rapidly produce 2-4 million kits” in a short amount of time. This could be a game-changing variable in how Senegal is combatting COVID-19. Trials are still ongoing.
- A Bed for Every Case: Senegal created the Health Emergency Operations Center (COUS) in 2014. Since its creation, the center has conducted simulations of “mock outbreaks” and created policies to combat the spread in case of an epidemic. And, before the country even discovered its first case, Senegal had finalized a COVID-19 response plan. In a country where hospital equipment is scarce, Sengalese health officials immediately began working to ensure that every future patient would be guaranteed a hospital bed. The country started with 86 beds capable of providing oxygen support. By early May, Senegal has distributed more than 900 beds to health care facilities across the country. It is still working to provide more. In a country where living conditions can become crowded, having a place for patients to recover without the possibility of infecting their family is crucial.
- Accelerating E-Commerce: As the economy comes to a sudden slow, Senegal has begun to focus its efforts in e-commerce to supplement financial setbacks caused by COVID-19. Its focus is to bring citizens online to do their shopping. There are currently physical restrictions in the country due to preemptive efforts such as curfew, travel restrictions and mandatory masks in all public settings. E-Commerce COVID, the country’s primary online financial platform, allows for citizens to shop for necessities including food, hygiene products and any other essentials. Business owners are adjusting their mindset towards a more community-based philosophy in an effort to expand their e-commerce reach outside of their capital. Senegal, however, has been working to improve its online financial presence for some time now. In 2018, the government introduced the U.N.’s Council on Trade and Development, an “e-commerce readiness assessment” to test the accessibility of WIFI connection and cable in an effort to bolster its economy.
- Docteur Car: Docteur Car is an innovative and game-changing development by many standards. It is Senegal’s employment of robot-caregivers to administer coronavirus treatments without risking the potential for a further spread of infection. Ecole Superieure Polytechnique de Dakar introduced Docteur Car to allow healthcare workers to care for patients without fearing for their own lives. They just arm the robot with food, water and medications, then pilot the robot to that patient’s room. With the ability to speak multiple languages, Docteur Car moves from room to room at the National Hospital of Fann, the primary medical center for COVID-19 patients, functioning alongside more than 600 medical professionals.
Despite the difficulties imposed by this pandemic, Senegal is combatting COVID-19 with innovative technology. It is working to support each individual citizen. Whether a patient, small business owner, healthcare professional or a student Senegal is fighting this pandemic as a group.
– Alexa Tironi