Africa Has Potential to Slow Spread of COVID 19-WHO

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa says that is important to empower different levels of government and health centres to be as it responds to the disease.
08 Apr 2020 16:46
The World Health Organisation-WHO is urging African countries not to be let down with the increasing cases of covid-19 on the continent and instead work hard to stop the spread of the disease.

Africa’s first COVID-19 case was recorded in Egypt on 14 February. Since then the virus has spread to 52 countries.

According to the UN health agency, while most African countries have poor health systems that could derail efforts to stop the spread, the number of precautionary measures that have been set up in these countries can play a big role in reducing the spread of the disease.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa says that is important to empower different levels of government and health centres to be as it responds to the disease.

“COVID-19 has the potential not only to cause thousands of deaths but to also unleash economic and social devastation. We need a decentralised response, which is tailored to the local context. Communities need to be empowered and provincial and district levels of government need to ensure they have the resources and expertise to respond to outbreaks locally, “she said.

According to Dr Moeti, the decentralisation of testing capacities in African countries will enable a bigger number of people to know their COVID-19 status. So far many countries are concentrating on testing cases that present with symptoms of the disease, which Dr Moeti says might lead to the spread of the disease through asymptomatic patients.

So far, only seven countries-Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria have expanded national testing to multiple labs, allowing for decentralized testing.

These combined measures will ensure the rapid identification of cases, the tracking down and quarantining of contacts and the isolation and treatment of patients. It is also crucial that people are provided with accurate information which will promote healthy behaviours. Protection of health workers is a vital component of the response and when governments implement physical distancing measures, the basic needs of people should be taken into account.

Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean says that while African countries have the potential to stop the spread of the disease, they should use time tested methods like social distancing and also plan for the worst cases scenarios when dealing with the disease.

“Africa still has an opportunity to reduce and slow down disease transmission.  All countries must rapidly accelerate and scale up a comprehensive response to the pandemic, including an appropriate combination of proven public health and physical distancing measures.  Within that process, Member States should target effective control of the outbreak, but plan for the worst,” Dr Al-Mahlndhari said.

As of Wednesday, over 10,712 cases have been confirmed. South Africa, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco have reported the highest numbers at 1,749, 1468, 1,450 and 1, 184 respectively.

South Sudan has the least number of confirmed cases at two.