WHO warns COVID-19 spreading to rural Africa amid weak health systems

Source: Xinhua| 2020-04-10 02:23:56|Editor: huaxia

NAIROBI, April 9 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday sounded alarm over the rapid spread of COVID-19 to rural parts of Africa hence threatening to put a strain on an already fragile health care infrastructure.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said the spread of the viral disease from capital cities to rural areas in the continent should be addressed as a matter of urgency to prevent a public health crisis.

"Tackling cases in rural areas that often lack the resources of urban centers will pose an immense challenge for the already strained health systems in Africa," Moeti said in a statement.

"There is a critical shortage of treatment facilities for critical cases of COVID-19 in Africa," she added.

The African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in its latest update said the continent had more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases and over 500 deaths arising from the disease.

"As COVID-19 cases move out of urban areas, there is a need to decentralize the response and increase coordination with regional administrations as well as reinforce sub-national health emergency response systems," WHO said.

"Provincial and regional governments and administrations need to be able to coordinate, trace contacts, contain cases, and treat patients locally," it added.

The global health agency said that African countries were still well-placed to win the battle against COVID-19 if they invested in additional intensive care unit beds and personal protective equipment for health workers and civilians.

It commended Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria for establishing multiple laboratories to expand testing, adding that Tanzania and Ethiopia have also taken proactive measures to boost diagnosis of the viral respiratory disease.