Washington, DC (July 23, 2021) – Although new cases of COVID-19 across Africa may begin to decline, the third wave is far from over and several countries remain dangerously affected by the spread of the Delta variant . Project HOPE warns that the third wave of COVID-19 across African countries could be a prelude to more deadly waves in the weeks to come.
“The explosive nature with which the third wave of COVID-19 hit African countries is not surprising – the highly infectious Delta variant has reached a largely impoverished and unvaccinated population of 1.3 billion,” said Dr Tom Kenyon, director of health at the HOPE project and former director of the Center for Global Health at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “What is surprising is the failure so far of the donor community and the pharmaceutical industry to support the efforts of African leaders to immunize their communities. I am afraid of a wave in Africa as we have seen in India where millions of people may have succumbed to COVID-19. “
As the number of COVID-19 infections has declined in South Africa, which accounted for 37% of the continent’s cases last week, the virus continues to spread in several countries, such as Algeria, Morocco, Senegal and Mauritania. These countries could also see a further increase in cases following recent Eid celebrations, which have led to mass rallies.
The third wave put a strain on existing medical resources, with hospitals facing shortages of oxygen and critical care beds. With only 1.5 percent of Africa’s population – around 20 million people – fully immunized and health systems overburdened, the prospect of new waves breaking faster and higher should be of great concern.
“Some vaccine deliveries to African countries are expected in August. This is welcome, but far from the quantities needed. In addition, countries need programmatic support to effectively immunize their communities, especially health workers, ”said Dr Kenyon. “This global imbalance in vaccine access results in needless deaths, and low-income countries pay the price. “
Since March 2021, Project HOPE has organized several trainings on COVID-19 vaccination in partnership with the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies at Brown University, to train health workers to use COVID-19 vaccines and answer questions. and the concerns of patients and communities. Parts of the trainings also focused on tackling vaccine reluctance, including among health workers, and showed positive results.
“Like many of my compatriots, I was very suspicious of the COVID-19 vaccine,” says a Malagasy doctor who took one of the training courses. In the end, after the training, I was not only among the first to get the vaccine, but also convinced my family and relatives to accept the vaccination as well, and I offer to repeat the training again and again to break down barriers among caregivers who are still resistant.
In a survey of participants before and after the trainings, Project HOPE observed a change in the perception of vaccines. Prior to the training, 62 percent of participants believed mRNA vaccines could alter a patient’s DNA. After the training, only 21% of them maintained this false belief.
Project HOPE has supported the Africa CDC by offering two types of training to health workers and COVID-19 frontline responders in more than 30 African countries. The “COVID-19 Preparedness and Response” and “COVID-19 Vaccination” trainings are available in English, French, Arabic and Portuguese. “We have trained a thousand trainers across Africa through this partnership, but unfortunately support for these trainers to educate their communities on COVID-19 vaccines has not yet materialized. I’m afraid time is running out, ”said Dr Kenyon.
About the ESPOIR project
With a mission to put the power in the hands of local health workers to save lives around the world, Project HOPE is a global health and humanitarian aid organization operating in more than 25 countries. Founded in 1958, we work alongside local health systems to improve health and support community resilience. We work at the epicenter of today’s biggest health challenges, including infectious and chronic diseases; disasters and health crises; maternal, newborn and child health; pandemic preparedness and response; mental health for health workers; and policies that influence the delivery of health care. For more information, visit www.ProjectHOPE.org and follow us on Twitter @ProjectHOPEorg.
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