ESTABLISHMENT OF A COVID-19 CENTRAL INFORMATION REPOSITORY FOR HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS:
THE “COVID CENTRAL” WEBPAGE ON THE WEBSITE OF THE ETHIOPIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION [EMA]
The Ethiopian Diaspora High-Level Advisory Council on COVID-19 was initiated at the request of H.E. Fitsum Arega, Ambassador of Ethiopia to the United States. The independent Advisory Council is composed of Ethiopian medical and other professionals and has the primary objective of supporting the efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Ethiopia. It provides policy and technical recommendations based on currently available scientific evidence and experiences learned from around the world. The Ethiopian Health Professionals Advisory Council was initiated by the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia and subsequently the Ethiopian Medical Association (EMA) along with other health professional associations established the local Advisory Council with the same objective as above. These two Advisory Councils joined forces to establish a COVID-19 central information repository targeting Ethiopian health care professionals. This resource has the objective to provide easily accessible and downloadable, pertinent, up-to-date, peer-screened documents to advance knowledge and support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Within a very short period, the COVID-19 pandemic has become a worldwide crisis. As a novel coronavirus, the medical community had minimal experience with this particular infection. This dearth of knowledge has spurred a flurry of research activities leading to publications in a never before seen numbers and speed. For the very first time publications are being circulated in early formats before any formal online or print process to accelerate the sharing of new scientific information. Furthermore, most of the journals have made COVID-19 publications freely downloadable. In addition to the scientific publications epidemiological reports from multitude of sources are appearing in real-time. Guidelines and recommendations regarding COVID-19 are generated by institutions as well as local, regional, state, federal and international agencies at a high rate and frequently revised.
The volume of information on COVID-19 on the internet is staggering. The word “COVID 19” generated in Google 2.3 billion entries on 19th of April 2020. As a comparison the word “Ebola” garnered only 59.9 million entries. On the same day, the top central resource for scientific medical publications, PubMed, showed 5279 publications on COVID-19 since January 2020 i.e. within less than 4 months. To the contrary, over the past 43 years there are only 9045 publications on Ebola listed in PubMed. These numbers do clearly demonstrate that it can be very daunting to navigate through the myriad of scientific and non-scientific information on COVID-19.
Currently, in Ethiopia there is no authoritative local resource of comprehensive information on COVID-19 specifically designed to support health care professionals. As medical knowledge on this new pandemic is rapidly evolving and cannot be gained from existing textbooks it is imperative to provide a central, well-organized, easily accessible source of information with peer-selected clinical, research and educational materials that will support the Ethiopian health care professionals in their various tasks in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of the abundance of COVID-19 information out there, it would be commendable to strive to develop a targeted and well organized comprehensive medical information source for the health care professionals. There is also an increased need for management protocols contextualized for the Ethiopian use. To that effect, both the Ethiopian and the Diaspora COVID-19 Advisory Councils are collaborating and developing specific protocols addressing local issues. This resource does in no way try to replace the existing well-known international resources for medical publications. It is also not meant to be so comprehensive to suffice for COVID-19 researchers. Lastly, we do not envisage it to be a mass collection of unselected information. Easily accessible, practical and informative resource is what we are looking for.
As per the recommendation of both of the Advisory Councils we have now established this “COVID CENTRAL webpage. Other professional societies and agencies, including those of all ancillary health services, can establish links on their websites with the EMA one. As we move forward we plan to do the following:
A. Keep on providing peer-screened online connections, literatures and other information material. The volunteer peer-screeners from the diaspora Advisory Council and other medical professionals from the USA as well as those from the Ethiopian Advisory Council and others from Ethiopia can be found under
B. Continuously upload newly developed Ethiopia specific diagnostic and treatment protocols.
C. Ensure awareness by health care professionals and other stakeholders of the availability of “COVID CENTRAL”.
D. Track the traffic through the “COVID CENTRAL” repository and accordingly fine tune the process and content.
E. Prepare a pathway for complete takeover of “COVID CENTRAL” by local stakeholders in due course.