Nairobi, May 15 (IANS) The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday predicted less number of COVID-19 infections in Africa and forecast a slower peak in most countries following growing success of anti-infection measures.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said the revision is based on the success of some of the measures that governments are implementing, like partial lockdowns, social distancing and washing of hands, Xinhua news agency reported.
She said an earlier modelling developed by the WHO had shown that COVID-19 cases in Africa were to peak in five weeks after the first case was detected in a country and that on average, 26 percent of the entire population in the continent would have been infected.
“This modelling was based on projected community infections including especially in the rural areas. But we have seen that African governments have put in place measures that have slowed infections,” she said during her weekly online update to journalists.
“Infections in rural areas are also lower. So, there will be a slower peak and a lower level of infections than initially projected in our modelling,” Moeti said.
She said WHO is working with Tanzania, which has not released infection data since April 29, to do so in order to plan the appropriate response.
The WHO, she said, is working closely with governments across Africa to increase and sustain community education on matters like social distancing and washing of hands in order to check infections that now average 1,500 per day in Africa.
One of the challenges WHO has identified is the growing challenge of access to food in some countries which is causing undernourishment and therefore compromising the immunity of those affected.
Moeti said it will be important for essential services to continue and make sure food suppliers are not disrupted and those who have no access to food are able to get food aid.
WHO, she said, is ready to collaborate with herbal medicine industry in Africa to undertake clinical trials of herbal medicines to find their efficacy against COVID-19.
“WHO has worked for decades with herbal medicine industry in Africa. We even encourage governments to accommodate herbal medicine in their national health programs,” she said.
She said WHO is working with a coalition in charge of COVID-19 vaccine and that the agency is working with all the partners to ensure that once the vaccine is found, it will be affordable to all people.
“The coalition is working to ensure there is equity in access to the vaccine. But the developers, especially the private sector need to feel that their efforts are well appreciated,” she said.