World Health Organization (WHO) maintained on Wednesday that COVID-19 has changed the way of life of global population, insisting that the effect of the pandemic on global lifestyle, health and wellbeing could last for a longer time.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Tshidi Moeti, in her 2020 end of year message, added that the pandemic has significantly altered daily living of people.
She said: “In Africa, almost 2.4 million people have been infected and 56,000 have sadly died since the first case was confirmed in February. Witnessing the havoc wreaked on health care systems in other parts of the world, authorities in most African countries acted quickly to close borders, limit gatherings, and scale-up public health interventions.
“This, undoubtedly, helped greatly to avert countless cases and deaths, but the success came at a significant cost to livelihoods and economies.”
She said that throughout the response, at the country level, WHO worked side-by-side with governments, as the closest advisers of ministries of health.
“We, equally, encouraged countries in the continent to establish national incident management system that worked with high level multisectoral task force on COVID-19,” she said.
Dr. Moeti further disclosed that WHO procured and distributed 58 million items of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs), five million test kits and 3, 200 oxygen concentrators through the United Nations supply portal.
In addition to that, she said that laboratory capacity for testing COVID-19 improved from two to 750, while 345, 000 community health workers were mobiliised to respond to the pandemic across the continent.
Similarly, 150, 000 health workers were trained in key areas, notably, surveillance, infection prevention and control, case management, among others, while 900 WHO staff were repurposed and 200 experts deployed to countries in Africa.
She confirmed that WHO is intensifying support to countries to plan for vaccine introduction, hoping for equity and solidarity in relation to global access to the vaccines.
She, thus, suggested that, “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 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.”