Coalition Launches $100 Million PPE Initiative for Africa’s Community Health Workers


  • COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa (CAFA) airlifting nine 747 cargo loads of masks and
  • other PPE to 12 countries in first round
  • Largest mobilization of PPE to Africa aims to protect one million community health
  • workers in 24 countries from COVID-19
  • Coalition seeks to raise up to $100 million to fill critical global gap

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Aug. 11, 2020—In the largest mobilization of private resources to

protect Africa’s frontline health workers from COVID-19, a new 30+-member coalition today

announced it has begun delivering nearly 60 million pieces of personal protective equipment

(PPE) to countries across sub-Saharan Africa in the initiative’s first round.

The COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa (CAFA) is working in partnership with Ministries of Health

to meet the essential PPE needs (including surgical masks, gloves, eye protection and more) of

up to one million community health workers serving over 400 million people during the

COVID-19 pandemic. This is the only known effort to date that pools resources for PPE for

community health workers in Africa.


CAFA is anchored by a $10 million commitment from Direct Relief, with additional support from

Crown Family Philanthropies, and in-kind contributions from over thirty collaborating partners. In

partnership with CAFA, the World Food Programme has committed to provide donated freight

and logistics worth more than $1 million. The Fund seeks to raise up to $100 million to supply

PPE to community health workers in as many as 24 African countries for approximately one



“This is a valiant and essential effort to mobilize PPE to protect our frontline heroes: community

health workers,” says Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Health

Equity and former Rwandan Minister of Health. “By preventing the spread of disease across

their communities while ensuring the continuum of primary care, community health workers play

a central role in all epidemics, especially COVID-19. As such, it is essential that we, as a global

community, ensure they are respected, supported, and protected.”


Responding to estimated needs verified directly by Ministries of Health in each country, CAFA

has thus far purchased an initial 25 million surgical masks, 35 million gloves, 822,000 face

shields and 974,000 isolation gowns for the initiative. It is transporting the PPE to the ports of

entry in each of the African countries, where local CAFA partners will deliver the supplies to the

community health workers in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The PPE will fill the

equivalent of nine 747 cargo jets and weigh 441 metric tons. The first 500,000 pieces have been

shipped from Direct Relief’s California warehouse, of which some have arrived in Lesotho and

Zimbabwe; shipments are in progress for as many as 10 additional countries in first round.

Community health workers (CHWs) are healthcare workers who extend the reach of primary

health care systems to communities otherwise underserved by formal health systems. They are

recruited from and serve the communities in which they live and work. Community health

workers contribute to significant improvements in health priority areas such as reducing child

undernutrition, improving maternal and child health, expanding access to family planning

services, and contributing to infectious disease control for HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis.

“We visit households. We advise women to take their children for immunizations. We advise

women to start their antenatal care visits on time. We manage other cases, like malaria. We

need PPE just like any other health worker so we can protect ourselves and our community” –

Euniter Adoyo, community health worker supervisor, Lwala Community Alliance and Kenya

Ministry of Health, Migori County, Kenya.


While a global shortage of PPE is affecting all health workers, the brunt has fallen on low- and

middle-income countries and community health workers in particular. In the absence of PPE,

community health workers put themselves and the people they serve at risk. The current drop in

access to PPE in Africa has already been followed by a 203 percent increase in COVID-19

infections among health workers. The experience of past epidemics, including the 2015 West

African Ebola crisis, has shown that disruption of essential health services often leads to higher

mortality rates than the epidemic itself.


As of Aug. 10, there were over 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the African

continent and more than 20,000 deaths . COVID-19 threatens to reverse health and economic

progress of recent years, as projections suggest its economies could lose nearly $200 billion in

GDP in 2020.


About the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa (CAFA): CAFA is a continent-wide collaborative

effort to aggregate and address the unmet need for COVID-19 related supplies for community

health workers across as many as 24 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The Fund pools

resources to secure competitive prices for quality-assured essential supplies and works with

in-country partners and governments to deploy products to the last mile.

Integrated with national responses, this is the only known effort that pools resources for PPE

items specifically for community health workers in Africa. Over 30 in-country and global partners

are involved in the effort. CAFA is jointly organized by Community Health Acceleration

Partnership, the organizations of the Community Health Impact Coalition (including Integrate

Health, Last Mile Health, Living Goods, Lwala Community Alliance, Muso, Partners in Health,

Pivot, and VillageReach), Direct Relief, the organizations of the Pandemic Action Network, and

Ministries of Health in 24 countries.


The 24 countries: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya,

Lesotho, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal,

Sierra Leone, Uganda, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


For more information, including a FAQ, please see


  • Tony Morain, Direct Relief:
  • Madeleine Ballard, Community Health Impact Coalition,
  • Jennifer Hyman, Living Goods:
  • Siobhan Kelley, Last Mile Health:
  • Naomi Komuro, Pandemic Action Network:
  • Hilary Swaim, Lwala Community Alliance:
  • Angel Roggie, VillageReach:
  • Jessica Cook, Integrate Health:
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