Assessments of Benin’s health system found that the country lacks a solid surveillance system capable of tracking widespread diseases prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020. It also lacked the ability to recognize and examine unusual clusters of illness or death in time to avoid disease outbreaks. A shortage of experienced and motivated health workers, insufficient equipment for efficient planning and response at each level of the health pyramid, and poor community-based monitoring are only a few of the major flaws.
COVID-19 test results were verified in Senegal at the start of the pandemic, and patients had to wait at least three days for their findings. Because the numerous information systems did not interact with one another, effective monitoring and assessment were impossible. In addition, infection control and prevention measures were deficient.
As a result, the problems might be described as assisting Benin in swiftly strengthening its epidemiological monitoring system, equipping itself to respond effectively to population screening requirements and sick care, as well as mitigating the crisis’ social and economic repercussions. The government of Benin’s partial, but brief, containment and mitigation measures to control the pandemic’s spread had socioeconomic consequences across the country, particularly for vulnerable people like women, children and youth, students, and small and medium-sized businesses, particularly in the informal sector.
These implications include: I greater food insecurity, particularly among girls in rural regions; (ii) increased risk of gender-based and sexual assault; and (iv) increased school dropouts, particularly among rural girls.
The World Bank quickly mobilized additional financing through the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement Project (REDISSE), the Benin COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project, and the Nutrition and Early Childhood Development Project to help strengthen the health response. COVID-19 Education Response Project programs also supported students in returning to school. The goal of the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Project is to retain girls in school who are likely to drop out.
About 97 percent of the resources gathered for the health response were released in less than eight months, ensuring that more than 2,400 patients, hospitals, and other recipients received aid quickly. Overcoming bureaucratic bottlenecks and using streamlined fiduciary measures enabled this. The Benin Country Partnership Framework (2018-2023), which highlights the need to defend against epidemics and enhance disease monitoring systems, reflects the Bank program’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic in Benin.
Benin’s public health system has been strengthened thanks to World Bank assistance. After 8 months of deployment, the following results were achieved:
Surveillance, contact tracing, infection prevention and control, case management, and risk messaging were covered in around 105 training sessions.
Thermal cameras are installed at fifteen border monitoring stations.
Financial assistance for hotels that were used to isolate flying passengers.
In treatment centers, catering to isolated and/or hospitalized patients and health personnel.
Thirteen labs were built, each equipped with twelve COVID-19 test machines, extraction kits, diagnostic reaction kits, forty biosafety cabinets, and cold chain equipment.
A total of eighty-nine screening rooms were constructed and outfitted.
Over six thousand employees in laboratories and healthcare facilities were given protective equipment.
Two prefabricated hospitals were built at Abomey-Calavi and Natitingou.
Three treatment centers with around one hundred beds are being constructed, as well as emergency and critical care supplies and equipment.
Three treatment centers, thirteen laboratories, and eighty fast reaction teams were all trained and staffed by SAMU.
Three psychologists and all health workers were trained in Cotonou’s port and airport.
Nine completely outfitted ambulances were purchased.
Purchase of fabric masks manufactured by local artisans.
In all seventy-seven communes of Benin, twenty-three thousand school kits were supplied to help females and adolescents.
The World Bank Group Contribution
The World Bank is providing the majority of donor funding for the pandemic response in Benin, with forty-two million US dollars released. The government’s ability to limit the spread of the outbreak has been greatly boosted thanks to large-scale technological and financial efforts. These initiatives have allowed Benin to mount one of the most efficient COVID-19 pandemic responses in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The World Bank is working with a number of partners to help Benin implement the COVID-19 Health Response Plan, in addition to providing financial assistance. The Belgian government, the European Union, the French Development Agency, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the UN Children’s Fund, the UN Development Program, the UN Population Fund, the US Agency for International Development, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization, and Plan International, an international non-governmental organization, are among the collaborators (NGO).
A total of thirty million US dollars in additional funds is being prepared to support the implementation of a countrywide vaccination program. The World Bank is constantly evaluating strategies to reduce the pandemic’s impact, particularly on vulnerable groups.
Many health professionals have been infected with COVID-19, including Mr. Isidore Lokonon, Head of Nursing Care at the Emergency Medical Assistance Service, who works on the front lines in the fight against the virus (Samu-Benin). His fears were alleviated in part by a greater degree of logistics used in care facilities, which was made feasible by World Bank support. “When the results of my test were released, I was taken aback. I rapidly regained my calm, knowing that I would survive the therapy. Benin is well-equipped to deal with Covid-19 “, he noted. “Thanks to the equipment and materials, we were able to move faster and more efficiently.”
Beyond providing direct assistance to health professionals in preparing them to care for their patients, he lauds improved screening, speedy patient treatment, and an overall swift reaction, all of which have proven critical in achieving early control of the epidemic.
“The World Bank acted as quickly as possible to limit the sickness to the best of its ability. Benin lacked sufficient intensive care beds. With the introduction of COVID-19, the requirement became much greater, but it was soon supplied “Director of Samu-Benin, Eugène Zoumènou, said.
“We may be fortunate that Benin swiftly realized the seriousness of the problem and was able to deploy financial, technical, and human resources for a speedy, structured, and successful response,” said Rodrigue Glèlè Aho, Project Manager of the Infectious Disease Treatment Center. The author states, “The consistency and regularity of the institution’s [World Bank] aid were crucial in the reaction.” “As a consequence, over these months, we were able to maintain an adequate level of patient preventative and care.”