African medics struggle to contain COVID-19 | Daily News


African medics struggle to contain COVID-19

African Universities are right on the frontline in the battle against Coronavirus.
African Universities are right on the frontline in the battle against Coronavirus.

NIGERIA: Health workers toiling on the frontline across Africa say they are facing rising infections, shortages of protective equipment and growing strains as they battle the coronavirus.

SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa’s health ministry says more than 2,000 practitioners have contracted the virus and at least 17 have died from it.

Around 80 percent of the infections have been in Western Cape Province -- home to second-largest city Cape Town and site of the country’s worst hotspot.

A doctor working at a government clinic in Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township told AFP that medics were struggling with delays in protective gear and intense mental stress.

“Your colleagues are getting infected, a colleague’s death is something that will hit anyone,” the doctor said, on condition of anonymity as she was not authorised to speak to the press.

“If you are in a war zone and a fellow soldier gets shot and you are forced the next day to go into the same war zone with that memory -- that’s sort of the burden.” NIGERIA: Africa’s most populous country has seen over 800 infections among medical staff and at least 11 deaths, according to figures from its national disease control agency.

Resident doctors in poorly funded state hospitals on Monday began an indefinite strike -- sparked in part by complaints over inadequate protective gear.

The Nigerian Medical Association, the umbrella body for all health workers, says its members are not being equipped properly for the threat.

“We are like an endangered species. Our members are daily facing the risks of infection because of inadequate provision of PPEs,” a top union official told AFP. Another major concern is that the country appears to be rapidly running out of bed space in isolation wards as the number of infections continues to mount. Chikwe Ihekweazu, head of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, insisted that the authorities were doing all they could to ensure enough protective kits.

He said 16,000 health workers had been trained to deal with the virus and officials were now looking to let infected people stay home rather than have to isolate in state-run facilities.

KENYA: Healthcare representatives say they are seeing the number of coronavirus cases grow among those working in the sector.

Dr Chibanzi Mwachonda, acting Secretary General of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union, said most infections are among medics at hospitals not handling COVID-19.

In the majority of cases, workers are being exposed during emergency and theatre cases on patients being handled for other ailments, only to be found to be positive.


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