The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of the threat posed by COVID-19 to health workers across Africa. More than 10,000 health workers in the 40 countries which have reported on such infections have been infected with COVID-19 so far, a sign of the challenges medical staff on the frontline of the pandemic face.
Dr. Matshidi Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said this comes as COVID-19 cases in Africa appear to be gathering pace, because there are now more than 750,000 cases of COVID-19, with over 15,000 death.
“The growth we are seeing in COVID-19 cases in Africa is placing an ever greater strain on health services across the continent and 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 workers infections,” she added.
She highlighted that one infection among health workers is one too many, because, doctors, nurses and other health professionals are our mothers, brothers and sisters.
“They are helping to save lives endangered by COVID-19 and we must make sure that they have the equipment, skills and information they need to keep themselves, their patients and colleagues safe,” she said.
According to WHO in Africa information on health workers infections is still limited, but preliminary data find that they make up more than 5% of cases in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa alone and if four of these, health workers make up more than 10% of all infections.
WHO has been working closely with health ministries to reduce health workers infections since the outbreak began. They have trained more than 50,000 health workers in Africa in infection prevention and control, with plans to train over 200,000 more, as well as providing guidance documents and guidelines on best care practices and the most up to date treatment regimes.
As a result of concerted efforts by WHO and partners some African countries have managed to reduce health worker infections considerably.