The Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Resolve to Save Lives and opinion and research company Ipsos have teamed up to support governments to help flatten the Covid-19 curve and minimise social and economic slowdown. The joint project will focus on real time monitoring and adaption of guidance and advice where preventive measures taken elsewhere in the world cannot be adapted to the local context. Ipsos will provide data on the impact of Covid-19, behaviours surrounding it, and control measures put in place in African countries, which Africa CDC, with support from Resolve for our Lives, will develop into guidelines and disseminated throughout the continent.
“A lot of the general guidance given is difficult to implement in some contexts,” Amanda McClelland of Resolve said. “People often have to go to the market daily, or live off daily wages. Without access to sick leave or holiday pay. Similarly, with church or mosque attendance often deemed very important, people often prefer to stick to their habit, even if it goes against advice to avoid mass gatherings. Finally, even some basic recommendations such as washing one’s hands or using hand sanitizer can be impractical in places where there is a lack of water and hygienic products.”
The World Economic Forum first heard of the need on the ground as it was creating its Covid-19 platform and it set up a virtual meeting with the three partners: the newly formed coalition discussed crucial hurdles such as cultural fit and data reliability. While Resolve had the capacity to tailor preventive measures to one or two countries, it couldn’t scale its action as obtaining and analysing data from more African countries proved a challenge. This was complemented by the African CDC, the pan-African authority on public health created after the Ebola outbreak.
Still, getting a sense of what was happening at country level called for data which Ipsos could gather and process. It could also do roll out polling to see how people think and feel and about Covid-19 and it offered to share that information. “Much of what the world is doing today to fight the spread of COVID-19 is through asking people to change their behaviour,” Darrell Bricker of Ipsos said. “Is the public getting the message? Do they know what to do? What are the barriers to compliance? In many places we just don¹t know because we lack evidence on the ground. This urgent research will help to fill that gap for Africa. In a first stage the data will be via polling and eventually will be complemented with Big, Digital and Social Data.”
“As a platform for public-private collaboration, the Forum was in a unique position to bring together partners with complementary skills”, said Arnaud Bernaert Head of Health and Healthcare, and Member of the COVID Action Platform Taskforce of the World Economic Forum. “The scope and the pace at which this partnership came together are key to the project’s impact and we’re proud this is the initiative is our platform’s first endeavour”.
The team set the terms for a staged approach where they would start mining the data they have access to in a very pro-active fashion, and to iterate and scale quickly afterwards to be decisive in the course of the outbreak of COVID-19 in Africa. Ipsos’ aim was roll out the project and its resulting measures within days, starting in a few key cities such as Lagos, Nigeria and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to then be rapidly expanded to dozens of countries. That brings us to today. As the situation evolves, we’ll update this case study.