The World Health Organisation has warned that Africa is not ready to face a third wave of COVID-19 on Thursday.
In a virtual briefing, Regional Director for Africa, WHO, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said many African hospitals and clinics were still far from ready to cope with a huge rise in critically-ill patients.
WHO’s reports say has officially registered over 4.8 million cases and 130,000 deaths , representing 2.9 per cent of global cases and 3.7 per cent of deaths.
“Treatment is the last line of defence against this virus and we cannot let it be breached,” Moeti stressed, calling for better equipment for hospital and medical staff.
In recent weeks, the continent has seen a rise in infections.
South Africa, officially the most affected country on the continent, has tightened health restrictions and now has more than 1.6 million cases and 56,439 deaths.
In Uganda, the number of cases has jumped 131 per cent in one week with outbreaks in schools and an increase in cases among health workers.
The UN’s health agency on Thursday said it had detected a surge late last month in coronavirus cases in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Angola and Namibia are also seeing a resurgence.
Simultaneously, the continent is facing a shortage of vaccines and deliveries are almost at a standstill in Africa, according to WHO, which hopes for new deliveries in the coming months through the international Covax scheme, including a pledge of 80 million doses from the United States.
COVID-19 increasing risk factors for suicide – WHO
To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, on September 10, the American office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that suicide prevention must be prioritised after 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Suicide is an urgent public health problem and its prevention must be a national priority,” said Renato Oliveira e Souza, head of the Mental Health Unit at the Pan American Health Organisation.
“We need concrete action from all elements of society to put an end to these deaths, and for governments to create and invest in a comprehensive national strategy to improve suicide prevention and care,” he added.
Globally, one in 100 deaths is by suicide, making it among the leading causes of death worldwide and the fourth leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds, after road traffic accidents, tuberculosis, and interpersonal violence.
Some of the verbal or behavioural warning signs for suicide include talking about wanting to die, feeling immense guilt or shame, or feeling like a burden to others.
Other signs are feeling empty, hopeless, or trapped, or having no reason to live, or feeling extremely sad, anxious, agitated, or full of anger.
World Suicide Prevention Day is organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and endorsed by WHO.
This year’s theme,‘Creating hope through action’, focuses on the need for collective action to address the issue.
Buhari lists conditions for paying doctors’ benefits
President Muhammadu Buhari has given the conditions doctors must meet to get to their outstanding benefits.
Speaking during a meeting with officials of the Nigeria Medical Association at the State House, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari condemned the doctor’s industrial action.
He said: “The lives of citizens that could be lost or damaged when doctors withdraw services are precious enough to be worth opting for peaceful resolution of differences.”
The president added, “Let me speak directly to the striking doctors. Embarking on industrial action at this time when Nigerians need you most is not the best action to take, no matter the grievances.
“This Administration has a good track record of paying all debts owed to government workers, pensioners, and contractors and we have even revisited debts left by past administrations, once due verification is done. Debts genuinely owed Health workers will be settled.
“I learnt that some of the 12-point demand in the ongoing strike was already addressed. Though the Review of a new Hazard Allowance has not been fully negotiated because of the sharp and deep division within the ranks of the striking doctors.’’
Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors had declared indefinite strike action since Monday, August 2, 2021.
Weekly COVID-19 cases in Africa reduced by 20% – WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that the weekly COVID-19 cases have declined by more than 20 percent in Africa.
In a statement titled “COVID-19 variants prolong Africa’s pandemic wave,” WHO said: “Weekly COVID-19 cases in Africa fell by more than 20%—the sharpest seven-day decline in two months – as the third wave pandemic tapers off.
“However, the rate of deceleration is slower than the previous waves owing to the impact of more transmissible variants.
“The continent recorded more than 165 000 cases in the week ending on 5 September—23% lower than the week before, yet still higher than the weekly cases recorded at the peak of the first wave.
“The more contagious Delta variant that partly fuelled the third wave has been dominant in several countries that experienced COVID-19 surge. In southern Africa, for instance, where more than 4000 COVID-19 genome sequencing data was produced in August, the Delta variant was detected in over 70% of samples from Botswana, Malawi, and South Africa, and in over 90% from Zimbabwe.”
Also in the statement, the Africa Regional Director for the WHO, Dr. Matshidioso Moeti, said the continent was working towards increasing the rate of genomic sequencing.
“The third wave has shown us how variants can hijack the efforts to tame the pandemic. Countries must step up surveillance because, without genomic information, variants can spread undetected. You can’t fix what you don’t measure.”