doctor with patients in the background

Pandemic response activities to roll out in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Senegal with financial support from the Government of Canada

August 13, 2020 – TORONTO, ON: Amref Health Africa in Canada is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Senegal with $3.6 million in additional financial support from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada. The funding is an extension of the organization’s Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality project and will enable Amref Health Africa in Canada to implement activities focused on slowing the spread of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 response activities will target the specific needs in each country, with a focus on four primary areas:

  • providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers and health facilities;
  • rapidly deploying water and sanitation supplies, such as handwashing stations;
  • training health workers on COVID-19 prevention and treatment, including the use of innovative mobile health and eLearning platforms; and,
  • providing COVID-19 education in communities with a focus on those that are remote, vulnerable or marginalized.

Together, these integrated activities will ensure health workers have the knowledge, skills and equipment to safely treat patients with COVID-19, provide community members with access to water, soap and sanitizer for regular handwashing, and share accurate information about COVID-19 prevention with communities.

“Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic wherever it is in the world is vital to ensuring its defeat in Canada,” said Onome Ako, Executive Director, Amref Health Africa in Canada. “We applaud the Government of Canada for taking a global approach to COVID-19. We look forward to working with communities and our partners in sub-Saharan Africa to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in some of the poorest, most vulnerable parts of the globe.”

With the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) warning that the COVID-19 pandemic is reaching Africa “full speed”, this Canadian support is coming at a crucial time. The continent is now reporting more than one million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 23,000 deaths. Communities in sub-Saharan Africa are facing the pandemic within a challenging context: fragile, under-resourced health systems that can quickly become overburdened; shortage of trained health care workers; lack of reliable access to clean, running water; and often crowded living conditions.

The COVID-19 response will be carried out in many of the same communities as the four-year Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Children Mortality (CAIA-MNCM) project – communities that have come to know and trust Amref Health Africa. Responding to COVID-19 in these communities will also help to maintain improvements made in girls’ and women’s health through the CAIA-MNCM project.

“Pregnant women still need access to skilled health care; youth still need sexual and reproductive education and services; babies still need to be immunized against deadly diseases. All of these health services are essential during the pandemic,” said Ako. “With our deep roots in Africa and more than 60 years of expertise, we can help communities and governments respond quickly and effectively to this global health emergency.”

With the additional funding, the project is expected to run until June 2021.


About Amref Health Africa (  Amref Health Africa, the largest African-led international organization on the continent, reached more than 5.3 million people directly in 2019 through 178 health-focused projects. Founded in Kenya in 1957 as the Flying Doctors of East Africa, Amref Health Africa’s strategic pillars focus the organization’s work around human resources for health, innovative health services and solutions, and investments in health. Our partnerships with communities in Africa to create lasting health change are at the heart of all we do.

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Jennifer Foulds, Communications Director, Amref Health Africa in Canada: +1 647-771-5815 (cell); email