The World Health Organization (WHO) says the African health crisis could worsen as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc.
According to the WTO’s preliminary analysis, there is a sharp decline in five key essential services in 14 African countries between January and September 2020, compared to the previous two years.
These include outpatient consultation, inpatient admission, expert birth attendance, treatment of confirmed malaria cases and the provision of the five-and-again vaccine combination.
WHO noticed the biggest gaps in May, June and July, when many countries closed hard, with movement restrictions to limit the spread of Coronavirus.
According to WHO, services in the five monitored areas fell by more than 50% in the 14 countries on average over the three months, compared to the same period in 2019.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had hidden, dangerous consequences for health in Africa. With health resources that are strongly focused on COVID-19, as well as fears and restrictions on people’s daily lives, vulnerable populations are at increasing risk. to fall the cracks, “said dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, said.
Must believe that the health systems of the continent need to do better to withstand future shocks.
“A strong health care system is the basis for emergency preparedness and response. As countries facilitate COVID-19 restrictions, we must not leave the door open for the pandemic to re-emerge.
“A new wave of COVID-19 infections could further disrupt life-saving health services, only now recovering from the initial impact,” Moeti said.
Even before the pandemic, maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa was unacceptably high, accounting for about two-thirds of the world’s deaths to mothers in 2017.
Preliminary findings suggest that COVID-19 is likely to exacerbate the challenges facing women’s health, while skilled birth attendance has declined in the 14 countries.
In Nigeria, for example, 362,700 pregnant women missed antenatal care between March and August 2020, while more than 97,000 women gave birth to health care facilities, and more than 193,000 missed postnatal care within two days of giving birth.
Recent data also revealed 310 maternal deaths in Nigerian health institutions in August 2020 – almost double the figure in August 2019.
Children and vaccines
Meanwhile, 1.37 million children across the African region have missed the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, which is protected against tuberculosis (TB).
In addition, another 1.32 million children under one year missed their first dose of measles vaccine between January and August 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
At least 15 African countries have postponed vaccination campaigns this year that include measles, yellow fever, polio and other diseases, while the introduction of new vaccines has been stopped and countries that no longer have supplies.
‘Now that countries are easing their restrictions, it is vital that they carry out vaccination campaigns quickly.
“The longer, large numbers of children remain unprotected against measles and other childhood diseases, the greater the chance that we can see deadly outbreaks flare up and claim more lives than COVID-19,” Moeti said.
According to the WHO, some countries are now catching up, such as the Central African Republic and Ethiopia, which have already done vaccinations.
Thirteen other African countries plan to start vaccinating measles, polio and human papillomavirus again in the coming months.
WHO leads COVID-19 prevention measures to keep health workers and communities safe. The WHO said it was determined to ensure the continuity of other essential health services by optimizing service delivery institutions, proposing the distribution of health workers’ capacity and proposing ways to ensure uninterrupted medicine and other health goods.