Curbing the spread of COVID-19 in low income countries

Globalisation impacts the epidemiology of communicable diseases, threatening human health and survival globally. The ability of coronaviruses to spread, quickly and quietly, was exhibited with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2002–2003 and, more recently, with COVID-19. Not sparing any continent, the World Health Organization declared a COVID-19 pandemic on 11 March 2020. In an article published in the Journal of Royal Society of Medicine, we discussed how higher income countries can support the response to Covid-19 in low income countries.

Despite high-income countries being inordinately impacted, due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, SARS-CoV-2 continues to represent a looming threat to the Global South, leading the World Health Organization to previously state that ‘Our biggest concern continues to be the potential for COVID-19 to spread in countries with weaker health systems’ and that Africa could become the next epicentre.

However, while academics, public health experts and macroeconomists discuss among themselves, using collaborative strategies to reduce morbidity, mortality and economic devastation, these discussions have not involved low- and middle-income countries. COVID-19 may cause unprecedented humanitarian health needs in countries already subjected to unaffordable, fragmented and fragile health systems; as COVID-19 unfolds a worldwide economic crisis, with the poor and other vulnerable groups affected disproportionately, building health system resilience, through an urgent and coordinated global response, that allocates resources and funds efficiently, must be prioritised in this dynamic and shifting pandemic.