Impact of COVID19: A Case Study of Burkina Faso
While COVID19 has impacted the entire world, developing countries, such as Burkina Faso, face different and compounding issues. Treating COVID19 becomes harder when countries already grapple with issues such as food shortages, poverty, medical shortages and lack of infrastructure. Additionally, even with a vaccine, developing countries are usually last on the list to receive them, and can have trouble with distribution.
Burkina Faso, where Farm Sahel focuses their work, has been hit hard by the pandemic, especially as 2021 continues. According to Burkina Faso's Health Ministry, the country has registered more than 11,000 cases and 134 deaths since the pandemic began. While that might not seem like a lot compared to the 27 million that the US has seen, it is still high for a country where health care facilities have seen massive cuts in recent years. Currently, there is less than 1 physician per 10,000 people and 3.57 nurses per 10,000 people. This leaves hospitals unable to staff their wards properly, and healthcare workers throughout the country feel the strain caused by a lack of resources. Hospital workers told reporters from the AP last month that they are “understaffed and overworked”.
Many international organizations and reporters think that COVID19 numbers in Burkina Faso are being undercounted due to lack of testing. The country lacks any mass testing capabilities, and many who end up contracting the virus are never officially tested. Recently, the number of daily infections has been on the rise, from below 50 in early December to more than 100 by the start of 2021. This new rise in infections is being referred to as a “second wave” as the nation managed to avoid a large first wave. Many doctors working within the country are worried about this second wave. Hospitals are already struggling with the rise in cases, and there are worries that critical care beds will soon run out throughout the whole of the country.
Donald Brooks, a US aid worker who has been analysing the country’s response to the pandemic has said that: “If this second wave of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, the additional strain placed on Burkina’s health system, already weakened by the first wave and ongoing conflict, can likely increase disability and death from other causes such as malaria, malnutrition and other respiratory infections.”
Moreover, there are additional concerns about the ability to distribute vaccines within the country. The World Health Organization has promised to obtain and deliver over 100 million doses of the vaccine to low-income countries by March under the COVAX initiative. The initiative is a global effort aimed at getting lower-income countries vaccinated. If WHO is able to keep their promise, the country could receive over 1 million doses. However, medical professionals within the country are concerned about the nation’s ability to actually vaccinate people, due to the lack of trained medical staff. The vaccine rollout will most likely need to use resources that the country cannot afford to allocate with the pandemic still raging. Lastly, the 1 million vaccines promised by the WHO would vaccinate less than 1% of the country's 20 million residents, leaving them far below the bar for herd immunity. The country would need at least 30 million vaccinations in order to reach the approximate herd immunity threshold that the WHO prescribes.
As of right now, all local officials can do is ask residents to observe COVID 19 and public safety protocols, including wearing a mask when in public.
-Republic World. “Burkina Faso Registers Surge in COVID-19 Cases, Hospitals under Pressure.” Republic World, Republic World, 8 Feb. 2021, www.republicworld.com/world-news/africa/burkina-faso-registers-surge-in-covid-19-cases-hospitals-under-pressure.html.
-Mednick, Sam. “Burkina Faso Hospitals Struggle with New Wave of COVID-19.” SFGATE, Associated Press, 7 Feb. 2021, www.sfgate.com/news/article/Burkina-Faso-hospitals-worry-as-second-COVID-19-15931278.php.
-“Burkina Faso.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/data/gho/data/countries/country-details/GHO/burkina-faso?countryProfileId=c573d359-ef44-43e0-9d20-4c17ab6d68e9+https%3A%2F%2Fwww.who.int%2Fworkforcealliance%2Fcountries%2Fbfa%2Fen%2F.