Bloomberg reports that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging African countries to expand critical care capacities as soon as possible while COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the continent and vaccine rollout in African countries are basically at standstill.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, says that efforts to augment critical care will aid health care facilities from becoming too overwhelmed.
“Many African hospitals and clinics are still far from ready for a surge in critically ill COVID-19 patients,” Moeti told Bloomberg.
To prepare for a resurgence of the virus, the WHO is lining up case management experts and essential equipment, including oxygen concentrators, that “…can be deployed quickly when needed,” she said.
In the past two weeks, Africa had seen an increase of 20% in COVID-19 cases across the continent, with eight countries recording a rise of more than 30% in the past week. This news calls for urgent action as the WHO discovered via a survey that most African countries have less than one intensive care unit bed per 100,000 people.
Moeti believes that this is due to “long under-investment in health systems among many other competing priorities.”
“The threat of a third wave in Africa is real and rising,” Moeti said.
Africa Struggles to Vaccinate Population
This new surge in COVID-19 cases in Africa comes as only 1 in every 100 Africans has had a vaccine does, compared to the global average of 23 doses per 100 people, with a rate of 62 doses per 100 people in some high-income countries.
Richard Mihigo, program area manager for immunization and vaccine development at the WHO’s regional office in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, says that, while 51 countries in Africa – including, recently, Burkina Faso and Chad – many countries still need help in providing second doses to its population.
Eritrea, Burundi and Tanzania have yet to receive any vaccines.