World Health Organization’s regional office in Africa has warned that rising cases of Covid-19 indicating a possible third wave might choke the much hyped healthcare structure of the African sub-continent.
Healthcare framework and infrastructure in majority of the continent is already in dilapidated state. But with rising number of Covid-19 cases, the global health body is raising concerns. World Health Organization said that the infection rate is on a rise in at least 12 African countries, including Ethiopia, Cameroon, Guinea and Kenya.
Healthcare framework in Africa, doctors, nurses and healthcare workers are stretched to the threshold as this week witnessed cases crossing 4.1 million mark. This was a sharp surge in cases as compared to the 2.7m cases recorded in December end. South Africa is leading with over 1.5m cases and over 52,000 deaths.
Tragically, just 7 million people have been so far vaccinated across Africa that has a population of over billion.
Compared to the first wave of Covid-19, the second of infections that rose in 2020 end was far more aggressive and catastrophic for the continent. One of the reasons could be implementation of fewer and less severe public health measures than imposed in first wave, said The Lancet this week. By 2020 end, Africa bore share of 3-4% of global cases of Covid-19. But considering the vast underestimation of true scenario, experts fear that detection of variants can be distorted.
With Kenya recording a surge of 20% cases of Covid-19, experts have warned public of difficult days ahead. Kenya’s health ministry tweeted, “We are in the third wave of this virus, and it’s a wave that threatens to erase all the gains we have made as a country in fighting the pandemic over the last one year.” Kenya’s all intensive care unit beds have been occupied with doctors themselves getting infected with the virus.
WHO authorities in Africa said that with inadequate healthcare facilities in continent, including those for testing and isolation of Covid-19 cases, the healthcare personnel are bearing the brunt if pandemic now with “work overload, poor infection prevention and control measures”. In a tragic toll, 3.5% total cases in Africa are among healthcare professionals.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union said in a statement, “The acute shortage of doctors across the country is detrimental to health services delivery amidst the pandemic. This month has recorded an increase in healthcare workers’ infection, there are currently 10 doctors admitted in various facilities across the country and this indicates the need for extra precaution by members of the public.” The union further urged people to follow all the precautionary measures and be cautious when visiting a doctor or any medical facility.
“Covid-19 has heavily jolted the health workforce in the African region. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 267 health worker infections have been recorded on average every day, translating to 11 new health worker infections per hour,” said the WHO.