WHO calls for strengthening of health systems as COVID-19 scare persists

Philipa Jaja

The World Health Organization (WHO) has emphasized the urgent need to enhance healthcare systems as a crucial measure in combating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to pose a significant threat to Africa.

During a recent media briefing on the current COVID-19 situation in Africa, the WHO reiterated its call for countries to integrate pandemic response measures into their disease management frameworks. This strategic integration is seen as a vital step towards strengthening healthcare systems and ensuring resilience in the face of the persistent challenges posed by COVID-19.

“The disease still exists globally and we should not let our guard down. Let’s be cautious and protect our loved ones. It’s time for African countries to transition from emergency mode, to managing COVID-19 alongside other infectious diseases,” said WHO African Region COVID-19 Incident Management Support Team’s incident manager Jayne Byakika Tusiime.

Early last month, the world health body declared that COVID-19 was no longer a global public health emergency, but despite this pronouncement, it remains a public health threat.

“We need to manage COVID-19 like any other infectious disease. Let’s treat it the way we treat influenza, HIV and other diseases.”

She said despite there being a handful of reported cases of COVID-19 in the region, the situation had markedly improved with less mortality and an increased immunity against the virus.

Cabinet yesterday was notified that six people have succumbed to COVID-19 this week as compared to two in the previous week it has emerged.

Discussing the issue in Cabinet yesterday, ministers noted that as of Tuesday this week, cumulative COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe stood at 265 362, with 259 378 recoveries.

It is against this background that Byakika Tusiime has implored Africa to encourage vaccination against the respiratory disease.

“Vaccination has been one of the life-saving tools that we have been using. Going forward, we should not lose sight, but encourage our people to be vaccinated. Our figures are worrisome considering that 36% of people in Africa have been vaccinated by at least one dose while 36% have completed the primary series (two doses),” Byakika Tusiime said.

 “As Africa, we have enough COVID-19 vaccines and people should be encouraged to go and get vaccinated, if they don’t, the vaccines will expire.”

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