Lessons from Senegal: Experience and Innovation

Janet Kimani
The walls of the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal’s capital, Dakar
Source: Alaattin Doğru, Anadolu Agency

Senegal, a small West African country, is leading by example through its impressive innovation amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Having been badly hit by Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and Dengue fever in the past, Senegal has proven it has learnt the lessons from these experiences which are so useful in the current situation. A laboratory in Senegal is currently utilising its experience in handling infectious diseases by developing $1 USD testing kits, enabling it to do what no other country has been able to do: test everyone in the country who goes to the Covid-19 testing centre, symptomatic or not.

The testing kits are an innovation borrowed from those used during the Dengue fever outbreak, a mosquito borne viral disease. Additionally, Senegalese engineers have manufactured innovative ventilators using 3D printing machines whose price is $60 USD, a fraction of the $16,000 USD imported alternatives. Through its innovations, Senegal has been able to deal with Covid-19 relatively successfully, in terms of the number of related fatalities and recoveries. Senegal has reported 25 deaths out of the 2,428 infected since the outbreak, out of which 949 have so far recovered. Senegal is thus impressively outperforming larger economies such as the United States in its handling of the virus.

Despite its relatively small budget, upon approval Senegal further hopes to develop testing kits and ventilators to help its fellow African countries, many of whom are also unable to afford the pricier internationally-imported equipment. Senegal is thus proving that the solution doesn’t always have to come from outside. With the right innovation, coupled with relentless determination, countries can use the little they have to battle Covid-19 from within their borders.

  • Senegal is undoubtedly utilising its lessons from the past; how can other countries in turn utilise these lessons from Senegal?
  • What impact will Senegal’s success have on other African countries?
  • What lessons can high-budget superpowers like the United States learn from Senegal?

Suggested Further Reading

Aljazeera, Senegal’s $1 COVID-19 test kit and the race for a vaccine

QZ, A Senegalese innovation lab is helping the UK develop a 10-minute coronavirus test kit

Microsoft News, Testing COVID-19 costs KSh 100 in Senegal while Kenyan hospital charges KSh 10k for same service

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