COVID-19 pandemic expands reach in Africa
As the number of COVID-19 cases in Africa continues to grow, more countries in the continent are seeing the virus spread to regions beyond the capital cities. Among 47 countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) African region, nearly 60% are reporting COVID-19 cases in multiple locations compared with around 21% two weeks ago. There are clusters of cases and community spread in at least 16 countries.
“Tackling cases in rural areas that often lack the resources of urban centers will pose an immense challenge for already strained health systems in Africa,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “There is a critical shortage of treatment facilities for critical cases of COVID-19 in Africa.” WHO finds that the total number of beds in intensive care units (ICU) available for use during COVID-19 in 43 countries in Africa is fewer than 5000. This is about five beds per one million people in the reported countries compared to 4000 beds per one million people in Europe. ICUs are where COVID-19 patients in critical condition are being treated in most countries. In 41 countries, which reported to WHO, functional ventilators in public health services are fewer than in 2000.
A preliminary analysis of COVID-19 deaths finds that more than half (55%) of reported deaths are people over 60 years and yet they account for only 16% of total cases. This may indicate that older Africans may be at higher risk of dying of COVID-19. But containment is still possible. In 31 countries, there are fewer than 100 cumulative COVID-19 cases. If they continue to have early detection and strong and comprehensive interventions around each case, they can avoid a further spread of COVID-19.
As COVID-19 cases move out of urban areas, there is a need to decentralize the response and increase coordination with regional administrations as well as reinforce sub-national health emergency response systems. Provincial and regional governments and administrations need to be able to coordinate, trace contacts, contain cases, and treat patients locally. Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria have expanded national testing to multiple laboratories, allowing for decentralized testing. Tanzania is currently planning further expansion in this regard. Ethiopia has even repurposed its national animal health laboratory to test for COVID-19.
WHO continues to provide technical and logistical support to countries. Humanity & Health needs your partnership. We as Africans cannot continue to rely on China for assistance, we need to get to a place of self-sufficiency. The very existence of Black Africans depends on what WE collective do. This is a fight for our very existence as a human being. Partner with Humanity & Health today and help support our effort in reaching those in dire need in Africa.
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