BUEA, Cameroon– The World Health Organisation, WHO, has sounded a distress call over the rising cases of COVID-19 patients in Africa.
According to WHO, more than 6000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Africa and that the alarming increase is threatening Africa’s fragile health systems, especially as the virus is spreading into the interiors of most nations.
Going by WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the “case numbers are increasing exponentially in the African region. It took 16 days from the first confirmed case in the Region to reach 100 cases. It took a further 10 days to reach the first thousand. Three days after, there were 2000 cases, and two days later there were at 3000.”
To contain the pandemic, many African countries are implementing measures prescribed by their respective governments, which restrict gatherings and the movement of people.
Nationwide lockdowns are in effect in Kenya, Uganda, the Republic of Congo… However, the WHO says governments must use these measures in a considered, evidence-based manner, and make sure that people can continue to access basic necessities.
Commenting on the preventive measures put in place in Africa, Matshidiso Moeti disclosed that “for the socially restrictive measures to be effective, they must be accompanied by strong, sustained and targeted public health measures that locate, isolate, test and treat COVID-19 cases.”
Also, one of the Regional Directors for Southern Africa, Lola Castro, also noted that, “It’s vital that ports continue to operate to receive food and other essential humanitarian cargo; that borders and roads stay open so it can be moved where it is most needed; and that distributions to vulnerable people are conducted safely. It’s also crucial that the international community promptly provide the considerable funding needed to maintain and scale up assistance programmes.”
While ensuring that basic needs are met, the WHO is pursuing innovative solutions to the region’s pressing public health problems.
On April 1, WHO hosted an online training session on the clinical management of COVID-19 cases. Nearly 500 attendees from across Africa logged in to learn about issues including case characterisation and triage, treating severely ill cases, infection prevention and control, and how to quarantine and manage cases in the community. The WHO also hosted a three-day ‘hackathon’, bringing together Africa’s brightest minds to find solutions to some of the problems COVID-19 has presented.
According to the WHO, “as many people in the region live in crowded conditions or work in the informal sector and need to earn money daily to survive, it is important that countries make provisions to ensure that people can still access essential services.” The WHO is working closely with national governments and United Nations partners including the World Food Programme (WFP) to plan for these needs.
By Neville Mesumbe, Originally published in The Post Newspaper, Cameroon.