The World Health Organisation( WHO) yesterday said that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the manner in which people live theirlivesonadailybasis. WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, who made this known in her 2020 end of year message, said the pandemic had killed 56,000 out of the almost 2.4 million people infected in Africa since February.
According to her, the quick responses by African countries to close their borders, limit public gatherings and scale up public health interventions, had helped to significantly limit the havoc of the virus in the continent, compared to what was witnessed in other parts of the world. Moeti said: “This, undoubtedly, helped greatly to avert countless cases and deaths, but the success came at a significant cost to livelihoods and economies.”
The regional director for Africa, whonotedWHOefforts alongsideAfricancountriesto contain the virus’ spread, said the organisationprocured and distributed 58 million items of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), five million test kits and 3, 200 oxygen concentratorsthroughtheUnitedNations supply portal. These were in addition to improving the laboratory capacity for testing COVID-19 from two to 750, at least 345, 000 community health workers were mobilised to respond to the pandemic across the continent, 900 WHO staff were repurposed and 200 experts deployed to countries in Africa, 150, 000 health workers were trained in surveillance, infection prevention and control, case management, among others.
Making reference to the coming holidays, she said WHOwasintensifyingsupport to countries to plan for vaccine introduction, hopingforequity and solidarity in relation to globalaccesstothevaccines.
“As we move into the holiday season and prepare to deploy the vaccines, the abilities and actions of individuals, backed by strong public health capacities, remain critical in determining the course of the pandemic.
“Looking ahead to 2021, we will push for health to maintain its place on the highest political agendas. There’s a real opportunity to invest in emergency preparedness, building resilient health systems and enabling people to lead healthy lives, which will benefit development and security globally. “This requires collective action, focused on integrated, people-centred approaches, engaging different government ministries and with partnerships between the public and private sectors.”