AP

As COVID-19 becomes routine, Africa readies for next crisis

Dec 7, 2022, 6:13 PM | Updated: Dec 8, 2022, 10:41 am

FILE - A resident from the Alexandra township gets tested for COVID-19 in Johannesburg, South Afric...

FILE - A resident from the Alexandra township gets tested for COVID-19 in Johannesburg, South Africa, April 29, 2020. The World Health Organization's Africa director said Thursday Dec. 8, 2022 that the continent is preparing for the next health crisis by strengthening gaps in health systems found in the continent's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

(AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Building on the experience of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, African countries are strengthening health systems to prepare for the next health crisis, the World Health Organization’s Africa director said Thursday.

At the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, some of the 54 countries in the continent of 1.3 billion people lacked the facilities or trained health workers to respond adequately to the health crisis, with some struggling to provide hospital isolation wards and intensive care units, Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Africa regional director, said at an online briefing Thursday.

However, over the course of three years, African countries have ramped up investments in health infrastructure in the race against the pandemic with support from global donors, she said.

“The future, however difficult the past couple of years have been, will find us in a much better situation in terms of our strategies, our investments and our capacities to confront public health threats,” said Moeti.

“We know now what we need to do to be able to make sure that our systems are resilient to the impact of a shock like an outbreak,” she said.

Across the continent, she said, WHO is working with countries to reinforce their capacities by training first responders while work is also ongoing to strengthen public health institutions and emergency operations.

One of the “most exciting outcomes of the struggle” Africa faced in getting COVID-19 vaccines is that some countries in the continent are now developing their capacities to produce those key tools locally, Moeti added.

“Whatever happens in the future, the next pandemic will find the world and Africa much readier” in its response, she said, optimistic about “important partnerships” and African institutions being established “to take the lead to work in the area of preparedness and also in primary healthcare.”

In Gambia, as in many countries across Africa, the pandemic was “very difficult” for many health systems but it was “an eye-opener for all of us to know where the gaps have been,” said Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, Gambia’s minister of health.

Samateh called for a global support system that offers more assistance and resources to countries experiencing challenges.

“National governments have roles to play but international communities have important roles to play as well,” he said. “We’ve seen in the COVID-19 pandemic that one problem in one part of the world is a problem for the entire world.”

And even with Africa still facing gaps in COVID-19 vaccinations, Moeti, director of WHO’s Africa regional office, warned that more work needs to be done to sustain the gains from the pandemic response.

“As we move into 2023, it’s time to bring COVID-19 out of emergency response mode integrate it into routine health care,” Moeti said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

moore redmond washington...

Associated Press

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Redmond couple challenging foreign income tax

The court ruled in the case of Charles and Kathleen Moore, of Redmond, Washington after they previously challenged a $15,000 tax bill.

1 day ago

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

3 days ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

4 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

4 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

5 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

6 days ago

As COVID-19 becomes routine, Africa readies for next crisis