73% of health workers in Africa not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, says WHO

Amarachi Okeh

The World Health Organisation has said that 73 per cent of health workers in Africa are yet to be fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine.

The WHO disclosed this in a press statement it released on Thursday.

According to the global health body, data analysed from 25 countries, since March 2021, indicated that 1.3 million health workers were fully vaccinated, with just six countries reaching more than 90 per cent.

The WHO also noted that nine countries have fully vaccinated less than 40 percent.

It added that data received from 39 African countries showed that 3.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given to health workers while more than 227 million vaccine doses have been administered in Africa so far.

WHO noted that this is in sharp contrast to 22 mostly high-income countries where over 80 pe rcent of their health workers are fully vaccinated.

Speaking on this report, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said, “The majority of Africa’s health workers are still missing out on vaccines and remain dangerously exposed to severe COVID-19 infection.

“Unless our doctors, nurses and other frontline workers get full protection, we risk a blowback in the efforts to curb this disease. We must ensure our health facilities are safe working environments.”

WHO also noted that there is a shortage of health workers. 

The press release partly reads, “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.

“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 per cent of all confirmed cases and 2.6 per cent of the total health work force in the region.

“Five countries account for about 70 per cent 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% in the week ending on 21 November compared with the previous week.

“The risk of health worker infection rises whenever cases surge. This is a pattern that has been observed during the previous three waves of the pandemic. With a fourth wave likely to hit after the end-of-year travel season, health workers will again face risks amid low vaccination coverage.”


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