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Africa in the Midst of 125 Disease Outbreaks, WHO Warns

Senior WHO Adviser Reveals Challenging Health Landscape Across African Region

In a concerning revelation, Dr. Hendrick Ormel, Senior Adviser of the World Health Organization Global Joint External Evaluation Secretariat, has disclosed that Africa is currently grappling with a staggering 125 disease outbreaks within the WHO African region. These outbreaks encompass a range of health threats, including the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, cholera, yellow fever, monkeypox, measles, wild poliovirus, and circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus.

Furthermore, Dr. Ormel emphasized that Africa is contending with a complex landscape of 20 human-made and natural disasters. These encompass cyclones, droughts, conflicts, floods, and civil unrest, creating an additional layer of health challenges for the continent.

The WHO African region encompasses numerous countries, including Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau.

Among these nations are Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Togo, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

However, Nigeria, one of the most populous nations in Africa, is grappling with a multitude of disease outbreaks, including Covid-19, measles, monkeypox, yellow fever, Lassa fever, meningitis, cholera, diphtheria, and anthrax, among others.

In an interview with our correspondent, Dr. Ormel cited various factors contributing to the prevalence of these outbreaks. He mentioned the geographical location, the close interaction between wildlife, livestock, and humans, as well as poverty and corruption, as key factors fueling the health challenges in the region.

Dr. Ormel highlighted that over 60 percent of diseases in Nigeria originate from animals, underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address health security gaps.

He emphasized, “We cannot change the climate or the geography, but it is extremely important that we implement measures to address gaps in health security and emergencies. The implementation is very important, and this is needed in hospitals and on the farm.”

To combat these challenges effectively, Dr. Ormel stressed the importance of empowering and enabling the implementation of the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS). This indigenous multi-year planning process aims to accelerate the implementation of International Health Regulations core capacities, adopting a One Health approach that considers all hazards and involves the whole government.

As Africa navigates this complex health landscape, the commitment to addressing these pressing issues is crucial to safeguarding the well-being of its population and building resilient health systems.

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