The Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. John Nkengasong says the COVID-19 pandemic remained a puzzle in Africa.
According to Nkengasong, the mortality rate from the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa is still a big puzzle that is difficult to explain.
The Africa CDC director stated this at the 2021 Mo Ibrahim Good Governance Weekend health discussion which was held virtually.
The three-day event started on Thursday with a health discussion titled: “Lessons from the Pandemic: An urgent call to strengthen Africa’s health capacities.
The Ibrahim Governance Weekend is a yearly event that celebrates good governance and leadership in Africa.
Nkengson said, “Clearly the pandemic in Africa is a puzzle. A puzzle because we absolutely know that many more people than the 4.8 million reported have been exposed to the virus. Our own serology surveys conducted within Africa CDC among several countries speak to that effect.
“In Lagos for example about 20 percent of the population there have actually been exposed to COVID-19.
“But the puzzle is that even if we underestimate the mortality rate which stands at about 130 something thousand by fourfold, it is really not a reflection of a devastating pandemic in terms of mortality rate in the continent
“So, it is a paradox between the number of people that are potentially infected and the low rate of mortality.”
He also said the pandemic has been evolving in the continent with an average increase of 14 percent in the last two weeks.
This, he said, is from the countries moving towards a third wave and the others battling to bring down the second wave.
Nkengsong, however, said that his fear about the pandemic is that death from it could be seen as normal.
“My greatest fear in this pandemic is that we will begin to normalise death. I mean, here I am referring to 130,000 people as if they are 130 people.
“When Ebola hit West Africa and within two years about 12,000 people died and we said ‘never again’.
“And here we are four or five years later with a devastating and raging pandemic which has claimed about 130,000 lives in Africa but as we compare it with the rest of the world, we begin to normalise death in Africa which is extremely unfortunate.”
In his keynote speech at the virtual event, the World Health Organisation’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom noted that though Africa has not been badly hit by the pandemic, the impact has been profound while the poor and vulnerable have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.
“Africa has not escaped COV1D-19 and we cannot let down our guards.
“What has happened in many parts of the world can also happen in Africa..” he said.
He stated further that Africa has administered just over 31 million COVID-19 doses which is two percent of the global total. This is nowhere near enough, he said.
He stated that despite the efforts of WHO and the COVAX team for equitable vaccine distribution, there is still vaccine inequality, noting that Africa must rise to the Africa cannot rely solely on imports of vaccines from the rest of the world.
“We must build that capacity, not only for COVID-19 vaccines but for other vaccines and medical products,” he said.
He added that the private sector would be essential in this effort.
Speaking further, he said that the pandemic has underlined why it is important to invest in primary health care and strong community engagement
“How can we take on new and deadly virus if we cannot provide basics like maternal healthcare and the treatment of diabetes. Global health security begins in our local clinics and health clinics,” the WHO DG said