CVD-Mali & Covid-19

Mali, like the vast majority of countries around the world, has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, the global crisis has obliged CVD-Mali to reconsider its activities, as we attempt to find the delicate balance between maintaining public safety and continuing to provide the numerous health interventions that were ongoing pre-Covid. Those interventions carry out important work and have the scope to effect long-lasting change for the better not only in Malian communities but in the wider West African region too.

See also our COVID-19 training modules for healthcare staff in Mali :

managing risk

Like many similar organisations, CVD-Mali has had to weigh the risks associated with sending teams to various parts of the country – and potentially accelerating the spread of the coronavirus – against the other, significant risks related to completely curtailing our activity.

After careful consideration, and with the support and help of our many financial and technical partners, CVD-Mali has transformed a number of its existing programmes – for as long as may be necessary – into COVID-19 response programmes (details of which can be found below).

Making use of the structures and infrastructure already in place for these programmes, CVD-Mali will implement a public health response in all the regions in which it is currently operational: Bamako, Kayes, Kita, Koulikoro and Koutiala.

The response will focus on Covid-19-related training, communications, provision of and training in the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and virus and surveillance (including serosurveys and laboratory analysis of suspected cases).


In addition to CVD-Mali’s programmatic approach to the COVID-19 epidemic in the country, its Director General, Professor Samba Sow, has been appointed special envoy on COVID-19 among the six appointed across the world, by the Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The Special Envoys provide strategic advice and high-level political advocacy and engagement in their respective regions, working in close collaboration with WHO Regional Directors and country offices to ensure a coordinated global response to COVID-19.

champs covid

The Champs network in Mali is also being used to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the country. As a well-established network for the surveillance of child health and mortality, Champs systems and structures are an excellent fit with the surveillance and testing required in the response to the Covid emergency.

As with Lakana Covid and Santé Covid, public health is key. Training of personnel, effective and appropriate communications, safe and appropriate use of PPE – along with handwashing and testing enable the Champs Covid to provide vital services in and around Bamako.

lakana covid

The Lakana Covid-19 Surveillance Study is a research plan for surveillance and prevention of COVID-19 infections in rural Mali. It aims to capitalise on the platform created for LAKANA, a trial to test the effects of mass-drug administration of azithromycin on mortality and other outcomes among 1-11-month-old infants in rural Mali.

The LAKANA COVID-19 Surveillance Study will use the health workers and platform developed for the initial trial to establish disease surveillance, to expand diagnostic and serological testing capability, and to estimate the impact of COVID-19 disease on the functioning of the health system.

The intervention’s goal is to reinforce public and primary health capacity in rural health centres in Mali. Adding capacity to existing structures, through training, communication and the provision of personal protective equipment, Lakana Covid has established hand-washing stations and sero-surveillance systems. It is also contributing to the test-and-trace effort in Mali, in an attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Lakana Covid work is being carried out by CVD-Mali in conjunction with Tampere University, Finland, and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In order to ensure the greatest possible public good, this study will be coordinated with the Santé Covid study (see below), taking place in the Koutiala region.

santé covid

Santé Covid is making use of the routine antenatal and intrapartum care structures harnessed for the original Santé trial to deliver Covid-related public health interventions in the Koutiala region.

As with Lakana Covid, the focus is on ensuring that healthcare workers have adequate training, communication materials and personal protective equipment to enable them to aid their communities in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. Santé Covid is also reinforcing the Malian government’s capacity in terms of testing for COVID-19.

Santé Covid is being implemented by CVD-Mali in partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

stars covid

CVD-Mali, in conjunction with the International Center for Research on Women and with funding from an anonymous donor, will conduct a qualitative research assessment to understand the impact of Covid-19 on Mali’s Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services so that a) disruption to services can be minimized through early coordinated response and b) processes can be put in place to deal with any future crises that threaten SRH services.

By means of telephone interviews and data analysis, the study will seek to answer the following questions in the Bamako, Kayes and Koutiala regions:

  1. What is the immediate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the provision of SRH services in Mali?
  2. How is the provision of SRH services changing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in Mali?
  3. What challenges are SRH providers facing and how are they responding to them?
  4. What innovations are emerging among SRH providers as they provide services in a fraught, rapidly evolving context?

Stars Covid is based on the initial Stars project.