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Only 27% of health workers in Africa vaccinated for COVID-19 – WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday only 27 percent of health workers in Africa have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, disclosed this during a virtual news conference on the pandemic.

Moeti said the development means the bulk of the health workers on the frontlines against the pandemic remained unprotected.

She noted that the analysis of data reported from 25 countries revealed that only 1.3 million health workers were fully vaccinated, with just six countries reaching more than 90 percent since March.

According to her, only nine countries have fully vaccinated 40 percent of their health workers.

She said: “However, 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.

‘In Africa, the majority of health workers remained dangerously exposed to severe COVID-19 infection.”

The WHO official stressed that unless the doctors, nurses, and other frontline workers get full protection, the continent risked a major setback in the efforts to curb the disease.

She added: “We must ensure our health facilities are safe working environments.

READ ASLO: COVID-19 third wave stabilising in Africa – WHO

“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 1000 population) to deliver essential health services.

“At least 16 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 among health workers, accounting for 2.5 percent of all confirmed cases and 2.6 percent of the total health workforce in the region.

“Five countries account for about 70 percent of all the COVID-19 infections reported among 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 percent in the week ending on November 21, compared with the previous week.”

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