Remarks by WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti
Good afternoon everyone and thank you for joining us.
I’m pleased to be joined by colleagues from the Economic Commission for Africa and the Executive Chairman of Africa Health Business, because we know the COVID-19 pandemic is having significant economic impacts, and particularly in vulnerable communities, we need balanced action to save lives and livelihoods.
The private sector has a vital role to play, from providing care to those affected, to manufacturing the key items required for the response, as well as innovating and developing new tools like vaccines and medicines.
There are now more than 51,000 confirmed cases and 2000 have lost their lives across the African continent.
We are very concerned that almost 1000 African health workers have been infected with COVID-19. We know that most African countries already have catastrophic shortages of health workers and when our frontline workers fall ill or are absent from work, communities do not have access to essential services like immunization, safe deliveries and treatment for chronic and infectious diseases, in addition of course to what impact these shortages will have on our ability responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to global shortages of personal protective equipment, our frontline health workers, and other frontline workers, remain at increased risk of infection. We are working with countries and partners to replenish supplies so that health-care workers can safely continue to provide routine services, that I’ve mentioned.