Original Research

After action review of the COVID-19 pandemic response in North West province, South Africa

John M. Tumbo, Indiran Govender, Doudou K. Nzaumvila
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 38, No 1 | a571 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajid.v38i1.571 | © 2023 John M. Tumbo, Indiran Govender, Doudou K. Nzaumvila | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 August 2023 | Published: 18 December 2023

About the author(s)

John M. Tumbo, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, Faculty of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa
Indiran Govender, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, Faculty of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa
Doudou K. Nzaumvila, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, Faculty of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) caused coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic with major disruptions globally. Northwest Province Department of Health (NWDoH) in South Africa set up comprehensive epidemiological emergency response plans for preventing, finding, containing and stopping the spread of COVID-19 in accordance with the National Disaster Management Act.

Objectives: This After-Action Report (AAR) describes the provincial response to the pandemic from September 2020 to October 2022.

Method: The AAR was conducted using the World Health Organization AAR methodology. Focus groups discussed five items: coordination, leadership and governance; epidemiology, surveillance and laboratory; case management and continuity of essential services; risk communication and community engagement and COVID-19 vaccination.

Results: The timely establishment and activation of provincial intergovernmental and intersectoral coordinating structures led to effective coordination, resource mobilisation, leadership, decision-making and intervention. The effective communication in the department and other stakeholders resulted in improved surveillance data quality, timelier response and increased ownership of data. Dissemination, training and implementation of case management protocols ensured standardised case management. The multi-channel information dissemination targeting different audiences empowered people with real-time knowledge on the infection and encouraged health-seeking behaviours.

Conclusion: The AAR demonstrated the importance of coordinated epidemiological, laboratory and communication response that requires significant public health reserve capacity in peacetime for rapid expansion in an emergency.

Contribution: This review contributes to the body of knowledge emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic and provides guidance on enhanced public health response to future emergencies.


Keywords

coronavirus disease 2019; COVID-19; after action review; pandemic; COVID-19 vaccination

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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