By MN Reporter
More than 10 000 health workers in the 40 countries which have been infected with COVID-19 so far, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
WHO in a press statement warned of the threat posed by COVID-19 to health workers across Africa, saying the numbr is a sign of the challenges medical staff on the frontlines of the outbreak face.
There are now more than 750 000 cases of COVID-19, with over 15 000 deaths.
A number the body termed as ‘critical’ and warn in some countries already there is “stress on health systems.”
“The growth we are seeing in COVID-19 cases in Africa is placing an ever-greater strain on health services across the continent,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
He added: “This has very real consequences for the individuals who work in them, and there is no more sobering example of this than the rising number of health worker infections.”
The number has been blamed on inadequate access to personal protective equipment or weak infection prevention and control measures.
“Health workers can also be exposed to patients who do not show signs of the disease and are in the health facilities for a range of other services,” the body warned.
WHO assessed clinics and hospitals across the continent for these measures, only 16% of the nearly 30 000 facilities surveyed had assessment scores above 75%.
Many health centres were found to lack the infrastructure necessary to implement key infection prevention measures, or to prevent overcrowding.
Only 7.8% (2213) had isolation capacities and just a third had the capacity to triage patients.
“One infection among health workers is one too many,” said Dr Moeti.
“Doctors, nurses and other health professionals are our mothers, brothers and sisters. They are helping to save lives endangered by COVID-19. We must make sure that they have the equipment, skills and information they need to keep themselves, their patients and colleagues safe,” he added.
WHO has trained more than 50 000 health workers in Africa in infection prevention and control, with plans to train over 200 000 more, as well as providing guidance documents and guidelines on best care practices and the most up-to-date treatment regimes.