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05.11.2020 20:26 News >> COVID-19 Puts Essential Health Care At Risk In Africa

COVID-19 Puts Essential Health Care At Risk In Africa

WHO says new wave of infections could further disrupt essential health services just recovering from initial impact.

The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a severe blow to key health services in Africa, raising fears that some of the continent's main health problems are worsening, the World Health Organization's Africa office said on Thursday.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had indirect and dangerous consequences for health in Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, said at a virtual news briefing.
"As health resources are heavily focused on COVID-19, coupled with fear and restrictions affecting people's daily lives, vulnerable populations face an increasing risk of falling through the cracks," Moeti said.
"We need to strengthen our health systems to better cope with future crises. A robust health system is the foundation for emergency preparedness and response. As countries ease restrictions related to COVID-19, we must not let the pandemic resurface," Moeti added.
She said a new wave of COVID-19 infections could further disrupt essential health services that are just recovering from the initial impact.
Even before the pandemic, maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa was at an unacceptable level, accounting for around two-thirds of maternal deaths worldwide in 2017, according to the WHO.
Thera are over 1.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent, with more than 1.4 million recoveries and nearly 44,000 deaths, show the world health body's figures.
Preliminary data indicates that COVID-19 is likely to exacerbate the health challenges women face, and new analysis revealed that births with the presence of a skilled health professional have dropped in all 14 countries where a study was conducted.
In Nigeria, 362,700 pregnant women were deprived of antenatal care in March-August. More than 97,000 women gave birth outside health facilities and over 193,000 did not receive postnatal care within two days following childbirth, the WHO said.
There were 310 maternal deaths in health facilities in Nigeria in August, almost double compared to August 2019, according to the UN health agency.
"Now that countries are easing restrictions, it is essential that they quickly implement catch-up vaccination campaigns," Moeti said.
"The more children are left unprotected from measles and other childhood illnesses, the more likely it becomes for fatal outbreaks to break out and kill more than COVID-19 [does]," she added. -



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