By Nsunjo Erica
World Health Organization regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti spoke about health worker infections in Africa, and according to her, so far, about 10% of all cases globally are among healthcare workers.
Dr. Moeti says the organization has seen a range of healthcare workers contracting Covid-19, including laboratory technicians and people who provide ancillary support in healthcare settings. She confirmed nurses have the highest infection rate.
Moeti says the WHO is working on improving the surveillance of this problem and the collection of data in Africa. This data will not only be used to determine how many healthcare workers are infected, but also to determine exactly which areas of expertise are at greater risk.
According to the WHO, lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and weak infection prevention and control measures have been blamed for the infection increase amongst health care workers and the public.
In the most recent situation update for Africa, the organization reports that since its last report on 15 July, Africa has seen a 23% increase in cases, with over 71% of new cases being recorded in South Africa.
According to Dr. Moeti, some African countries are approaching a critical number of infections that can place stress on health systems.
“This has very real consequences for the individuals who work in them, and there is no more sobering example of this than the rising number of health worker infections” she added.
WHO calls for global solidarity and equitable access to essential supplies in fighting Covid-19, including PPE, test kits, and other critical items that are urgent, and continuous support from the international community of African countries responding to this crisis.
Dr. Moeti says that the WHO and the Africa CDC had launched an expert advisory committee tasked with providing independent scientific advice and support to countries on research and development of traditional medicines and remedies for Covid-19.