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Why African health workers are avoiding COVID-19 vaccinations: WHO

COVID-19 Vaccinations for Health Workers

*The World Health Organisation says its analysis of data reported from 25 countries indicated that since March 2021, only 1.3 million health workers were fully vaccinated, with just six countries reaching more than 90 percent in Africa

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that majority of health workers on the African continent are still missing out on vaccines, and remain dangerously exposed to severe Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

ConsumerConnect reports the global health body said its minor analysis had revealed that only 27 percent of health workers in Africa have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, revealed this during a virtual press conference Thursday, November 25, 2021.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa noted that the analysis was leaving the bulk of the workforce on the frontlines against the pandemic unprotected.

The analysis of data reported from 25 countries, Dr. Moeti stated, finds that since March 2021, 1.3 million health workers were fully vaccinated, with just six countries reaching more than 90 percent.

Nine countries have fully vaccinated less than 40 percent of its health workers.

According to Moeti, in sharp contrast, a recent WHO global study of 22 mostly high-income countries reported that above 80 percent of their health and care workers are fully vaccinated.

Moeti said that majority of Africa’s health workers were still missing out on vaccines and remained dangerously exposed to severe COVID-19 infection.

According to her, unless the doctors, nurses and other frontline workers got full protection, “we risked a blowback in the efforts to curb the disease.”

Moeti stated: “We must ensure our health facilities are safe working environments.

“It is important to have high vaccine coverage among health workers not only for their own protection but also for their patients and to ensure health care systems keep operating during a time of extreme need.

Africa’s shortage of health workers is acute and profound, with only one country in the region having the required health workers (10.9 per 1,000 population) to deliver essential health services.

“Sixteen countries in the region have less than one health worker per 1000 population.

“Any loss of these essential workers to COVID-19 due to illness or death, therefore, heavily impacts on service provision capacity.

“Based on data reported to WHO by countries in the African Region, since March 2020 there have been more than 150 400 COVID-19 infections in health workers, accounting for 2.5 percent of all confirmed cases and 2.6 per cent of the total health workforce in the region,” said the WHO chief.

She noted: “Five countries account for about 70 percent of all the COVID-19 infections reported in health workers, Algeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“After almost four months of a sustained decline, COVID-19 cases in the general population in Africa have plateaued.

“For the first time since the third wave peak in August, cases in Southern Africa have increased, jumping 48 per cent in the week ending on Nov. 21, compared with the previous week.”

The WHO analysis of data report also revealed that till date, over 227 million COVID-19 Vaccine doses have been administered in Africa.

Moeti added: “In 39 countries that provided data, 3.9 million doses have been given to health workers.

“With a new surge in cases looming over Africa following the end-of-year festive season, countries must urgently speed up the rollout of vaccines to health care workers.”

She, however stated that vaccine shipments have been on the rise over the past three months.

Africa has received 330 million doses from the COVAX Facility, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team and from bilateral agreements since February 2021, saying, of these, 83 percent have been delivered since August alone.

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