COVID-19..

COVID-19 increased nearly 30% In past two weeks- WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the global reported cases of COVID-19 have increased by nearly 30 per cent over the past two weeks.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said this on Wednesday during an online COVID-19 media briefing.

Ghebreyesus said that four out of six of the WHO sub-regions saw cases increasing in the last week.

According to him, compounding the challenge are a number of factors.

Ghebreyesus said the first was that testing has reduced dramatically in many countries.

Read Also: No African country is experiencing COVID-19 resurgence says WHO

Second, new treatments, especially promising new oral antivirals, are still not reaching low and low-middle income countries, depriving whole populations that need them.

“Third, as the virus evolves, vaccines protection while still really effective at preventing serious disease and death does wane.

According to Ghebreyesus, it obviously impacts individuals and their families but it also puts an extra burden on health systems, the wider economy and society-at-large.

He said the challenges required action at a global, national and local level.

He said that governments, scientists, manufacturers, WHO and citizens themselves all have their part to play.

trachoma

WHO declares Togo Trachoma free as 26 African countries remain endemic

The World Health organization, (WHO) says Togo has eliminated trachoma, an eye disease that can cause permanent blindness, as a public health problem.

A statement from the UN Organisation stated that the West African nation becomes the fourth country on the continent to be validated by World health Organization (WHO) as having reached the elimination milestone after Morocco in 2016, Ghana in 2018 and The Gambia in 2021.

It explained that Trachoma is a neglected tropical disease, caused by bacteria and mainly affects children; in adults, women are up to four times more likely than men to be affected mainly due to the close contact of women with infected children.

“Repeated infection can severely scar the inside of the eyelid, turning it inwards and causing the eyelashes to rub against the eyeball. This results in constant pain and light intolerance. Left untreated it leads to visual impairment or blindness.”

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti was quoted as saying that “Togo’s achievement is a significant step in the progress towards trachoma elimination. Children across the country and their families can now live without the fear of the severe impacts of this preventable disease thanks to sustained control measures.”

According to the statement, efforts to eliminate trachoma in Togo started in 1989, with its inclusion as one of the priority neglected tropical diseases under the national control programme.

“The major elimination strategy was screening and treatment of people with late trachoma complications. Community participation was central to the success in Togo, with community health workers trained to identify suspected cases and refer them for examination and treatment.

Read: Mozambique declares outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1

“Togo also led series of awareness campaigns focusing on the importance of facial cleanliness and personal hygiene in the fight against trachoma and invested in significant improvements in the provision of safe water and access to better sanitation.

“Validation of trachoma elimination as a public health problem in Togo was based on evidence. Several population-based trachoma surveys were conducted starting from 2006 to 2017.

“The 2017 survey using WHO recommended methodology found that the prevalence of key indicators was below the WHO trachoma elimination threshold. There was also evidence that Togo’s health system is able to identify and treat new cases of late complications of trachoma.”

Meanwhile, Togo has globally joined 12 other countries that have been validated by WHO for having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem – Cambodia, China, Islamic Republic of Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Gambia, Ghana, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

“Trachoma remains a public health problem in 43 countries with an estimated 136 million people living in areas endemic for the disease. Trachoma is found mainly in the poorest and underserved remote rural communities of Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

“The African Region is disproportionately affected by trachoma with 116 million people living in at-risk areas, which represents 85% of the global trachoma burden.”

The WHO said significant progress has been made over the past few years and the number of people requiring antibiotic treatment for trachoma infection in the African Region fell by 73 million; from 189 million in 2014 to 116 million as of June 2021.

“Following Togo’s success trachoma remains endemic in 26 countries in the African Region.”

Vaccine preventable diseases

WHO raises alarm over surge in vaccine preventable diseases in Africa

The World Health Organisation, (WHO) says Africa is witnessing a surge in outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases in Africa over the past year.

A statement from the United Nations agency, states that almost 17 500 cases of measles were recorded in the African region between January and March 2022, marking a 400% increase compared with the same period in 2021.

It further stated that twenty African countries reported measles outbreaks in the first quarter of this year, eight more than the first three months of 2021.

According to the statement, outbreaks of other vaccine preventable diseases have also become more common; twenty-four countries confirmed outbreaks of a variant of polio in 2021, which is four more than in 2020; in 2021, 13 countries reported new yellow fever outbreaks in the African region, compared to nine in 2020 and three in 2019.

Inequalities in accessing vaccines, disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic including a huge strain on health system capacities were among factors identified to have impaired routine immunization services in many African countries and forced the suspension of vaccination drives.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti was quoted as saying that “The rise in outbreaks of other vaccine preventable diseases is a warning sign. As Africa works hard to defeat COVID-19, we must not forget other health threats. Health systems could be severely strained not only by COVID-19 but by other diseases.

“Vaccines are at the heart of a successful public health response, and as countries restore services, routine immunization must be at the core of revived and resilient health systems.”

It was also stressed that two doses of the measles vaccine provided on schedule results in long lasting protection against the potentially deadly disease and that countries were expected to attain and maintain measles vaccination coverage of 95% with two doses to reach measles elimination.

Reference was also made to 2019 where six countries in the African region attained 95% coverage with first dose measles vaccination, while only three met this target in 2020, according to estimates by WHO and UNICEF.

“To urgently scale up coverage and protect children, WHO and partners are supporting African countries to carry out catch-up routine vaccination campaigns, with more than 90% of the 38 African countries responding to a global survey reporting that they implemented at least one routine catch-up immunization campaign in the second half of 2021.

“Some countries have successfully integrated other critical immunization campaigns with COVID-19 vaccination. For example, Ghana integrated COVID-19 vaccination with yellow fever campaigns in December 2021 to curb an outbreak that erupted a month earlier. Nigeria recently launched a vaccine scale-up strategy which guides the integration of routine immunization with COVID-19 vaccination for mothers and their babies.

Mass vaccination campaigns are also boosting COVID-19 vaccine uptake. Between January and April, the percentage of Africans fully vaccinated against the virus rose to 17.1% from 11.1%.

The Director, Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases Cluster at WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr. Benido Impouma said “Routine immunization, a long-established practice in many African countries, has been severely strained by the impact of COVID-19. In the wake of this pandemic, we are committed to supporting countries devise smart approaches to scale up both COVID-19 vaccination and restore and expand routine immunization services.”

WHO- COVID

COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake: WHO, UNICEF, IFRC and partners to launch new initiative

WHO- COVID
The World Health Organisation, (WHO) says to date, Africa has received more than 587 million COVID vaccine doses; 58% through the COVAX Facility; 36% from bilateral deals and 6% through Africa Vaccines Acquisition Trust, (AVAT) of the African Union.

The World Health Organisation, (WHO) says to date, Africa has received more than 587 million COVID vaccine doses; 58% through the COVAX Facility; 36% from bilateral deals and 6% through Africa Vaccines Acquisition Trust, (AVAT) of the African Union.

WHO further revealed that in January 2022, 96 million doses were shipped to Africa, more than double the amount of COVID vaccines that came into the continent six months ago, while increasing deliveries have eased shortages and turned the spotlight on the need for countries to rapidly ramp up vaccine rollout.

A statement from the WHO Africa Regional Office in Congo Brazaville, pointed out that although COVID-19 vaccine supplies to Africa have risen significantly, the continent is struggling to expand rollout, with only 11% of the population fully vaccinated.

The need for vaccination rate to be increased over six times the current level to ensure that the African continent meets 70% target set for the middle of 2022, as the WHO, United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and partners are launching a new initiative aimed at resolving bottlenecks.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said, “The world has finally heard our calls. Africa is now accessing the vaccines it has demanded for far too long. This is a dose of hope for this year, however, a dependable pipeline must go hand in hand with operational funding to move doses out of depots and into people’s arms. WHO and partners are working with countries to urgently fix operational challenges including supporting health workers to speed up vaccine delivery, save lives and beat back this pandemic.”

It was further stated that six million people are currently been vaccinated on average every week in Africa, but the number needs to increase to 36 million to reach the 70% target agreed globally.

“Although Mauritius and Seychelles have already met the 70% target and seven African countries have vaccinated 40% of their population, vaccination rates on the continent remain low. Twenty-one countries have fully vaccinated less than 10% of their populations, while 16 have vaccinated less than 5% and three have fully vaccinated less than 2%.

“The slow uptake in COVID-19 vaccines in Africa requires global partners and countries to reset their programmes. WHO, UNICEF, IFRC and other partners are scaling up efforts to overcome hurdles, improve coordination and speed up vaccination drives. They have called for support to ensure COVID vaccines are administered as quickly as possible upon arrival to avoid expired vaccines.”

UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern & Southern Africa, Mohamed Fall, said “UNICEF is at the forefront of the largest, most sophisticated ground operation in the history of immunization – and it will take a response of the same magnitude to turn vaccines into vaccinations. Richer countries must not only ensure they are donating vaccine doses that have adequate shelf lives but also contribute funding for in-country operational costs.”

Meanwhile, data reported to WHO from 40 countries finds that there is a US 1.29 billion gap in funding for operational costs but late last year, WHO, in partnership with UNICEF, international and national partners, including ministries of health conducted surge missions to countries in Africa with the aim of understanding challenges and unlocking bottlenecks and based on the mission findings, the partners have launched an initiative to support countries to reach the 70% global target.

“WHO and partners are deploying, technical experts to 20 countries with significant challenges in vaccine deployment to form special support teams for three to six months and in some cases possibly up to a year. Already 50 experts have been deployed. They are working under the leadership of the ministries of health to strengthen partner coordination, logistical and financial planning, including microplanning, surveillance of adverse events following immunization, as well as the management of data on vaccination uptake and COVID vaccine stock.

“Engaging and empowering communities so they follow key public health measures and support vaccination is important. Under the leadership of governments, partners are working with communities to strengthen trust and confidence in vaccination,” the statement read in part.

Furthermore, the IFRC Regional Director for Africa, Mohammed Mukhier, was also quoted as saying that “This year, a lot more needs to be done to gain communities’ trust. When communities are in the driver’s seat, they become vital contributors to finding solutions to the outbreaks of diseases. In South Sudan, community-based Red Cross volunteers tackled the problem of slow vaccine uptake, through improved community trust, and helped prevent vaccine wastage”.

All representatives quoted in the press statement were said to have spoken at the virtual press conference.

Africa is now emerging from its fourth pandemic wave driven by the Omicron variant; COVID cases have declined for the third straight week; over the past week, cases dropped by 15% compared with the week before, while deaths fell slightly by 5%.

Despite the overall decline in deaths in the continent, North Africa reported a 25% rise in weekly fatalities, so far, Africa has recorded 10.8 million cases and over 239 000 deaths cumulatively.

“The omicron variant and its three sub lineages have been reported in 37 countries in Africa – of these the highest number of cases has been the original BA.1 sub lineage with more than 5300 cases in 20 countries. In addition, there have been more than 200 cases of BA.2 of the so-called stealth omicron sub lineage in five countries and 43 cases of BA.3 in three countries.”

COVID-19..

COVID-19: WHO IHR-Emergency Committee meets knocks States Parties in implementing blanket travel bans

The Director-General of the World Health Organisation (who), Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus has restated his support for all efforts to expand access to and uptake of COVID-19 vaccination, with the expectation that those who have access to vaccines get vaccinated and continued adherence to Public Health and Social Measures (PHSM).

Dr. Ghebreyesus made this known at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva, while welcoming Committee members and advisers to the 10th International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee Meeting held on January 13.

The tenth meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Members and Advisors of the Emergency Committee were convened by videoconference.

Delivering his address, the D.G highlighted the challenges posed by the high transmission levels of the SARS CoV-2 Omicron variant of concern (VOC) and the corresponding burden on public health systems and health service delivery.

He also emphasized the importance of vulnerable populations in all countries getting timely and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccination; and expressed hope that, by working together, the world can bring an end to the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A statement from WHO reveals that representatives of the Office of Legal Counsel (LEG) and the Department of Compliance, Risk Management, and Ethics (CRE) briefed the members on their roles and responsibilities, providing them with an overview of the WHO Declaration of Interests process.

After the meeting was turned to the Chair, Professor Didier Houssin by the Secretariat, Professor Houssin noted the continuing challenges caused by SARS-CoV-2 nearly two years after the first meeting of the Committee.

“There were also presentations at the meeting which focused on, “The global epidemiological context including an overview of the Omicron VOC; factors that continue to drive transmission, potential future scenarios which may involve variants that are more or less severe, and challenges posed by the continued evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in animal and human reservoirs; the status of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination targets for 2022; and updates on international traffic and progress on the Temporary Recommendations issued following the 9th meeting of the Emergency Committee.”

“Challenges and opportunities to harmonize national and global response efforts within the context of the synchronous outbreaks of Omicron VOC, including in relation to international travel; drivers for emergence of new VOCs as well as differences in the characteristics of Delta and Omicron VOCs and their respective lineages; the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 testing strategies as well as accessibility and affordability of medical countermeasures, were discussed by the Committee.

Other discussion points included “Vaccination strategies and the use of heterologous vaccine combinations; the challenges to maintain continued community buy-in for public health and social measures after two years of the pandemic and the risk of overly optimistic statements regarding the state of the pandemic.

“The increasing levels of threat and concerns about personal safety faced by frontline responders, advisors and leaders of the pandemic response; the focus of response efforts on a combination of suppression of transmission and mitigation of severe outcomes; and the need for an on-goin g integrated One Health approach to SARS-CoV-2 surveillance, research, and response efforts.”

South Africa was applauded for their rapid identification, and transparent and rapid sharing of information on the Omicron VOC, as the Committee expressed concerned over the reaction of States Parties in implementing blanket travel bans, which are not effective in suppressing international spread (as clearly demonstrated by the Omicron experience), and may discourage transparent and rapid reporting of emerging VOC.

The Committee also noted with concern reports of violence against health workers, public health officials, and expert advisors engaged in the COVID-19 response and condemned such acts that undermine national and global response efforts.

The statement revealed that the Committee further expressed deep concern that countries not eligible for the COVAX Facility Advance Market Commitment (AMC) are experiencing challenges affording COVID-19 vaccines, noting also challenges posed by the high prices of certain therapeutics, the lack of equity in access, and limited data availability on cost-effectiveness of these treatments.

The WHO to continue its work with the pharmaceutical sector to address barriers to access and affordability, by expanding tiered pricing, voluntary license agreements and other approaches to increase access to vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostic tests for all countries, possibly looking at the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework for guidance.”

“While current vaccines continue to be effective in reducing risk of severe disease and death due to COVID-19, they do not completely eliminate the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (all variants). A coordinated global strategy is critical for assuring protection of high-risk populations everywhere, with particular focus in countries that have low vaccination rates, especially those with a rate below 10%.

“To derive the optimal vaccination strategy for reducing infection, morbidity and mortality, the Committee stressed the importance of coordinating research on heterologous vaccine combinations, considering also the natural immunity following infection, and the need for manufacturers to produce and share the relevant data. In addition, the Committee noted the importance of expediting research and development on novel vaccine technologies. The current vaccination technology is dependent on syringes which are in limited supply, presenting a significant logistical and programmatic burden.

“Rapid development of alternative vaccine formulations, such as intranasal vaccines, could increase the ease of delivery in low resource and/or hard to reach areas. Also, there is a clear need for continued work on vaccines that confer broader immunity across variants. “The Committee acknowledged the work of other WHO technical advisory groups such as the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group on Infectious Hazards (STAG-IH), the Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition (TAG-CO-VAC), the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), the Research and Development Blueprint for Epidemics working groups and the Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) that are having on-going in-depth discussions on the key elements of vaccine composition, strategy development, and virus evolution, and are regularly reporting on their findings.”

COVID-19 treatment by African countries.

WHO says scarcity, high cost, major impediments in accessing other COVID-19 treatment by African countries.

The Africa Regional of the World Health Organisation says African countries face major impediments in accessing other COVID-19 treatment due to limited availability and high cost.

This was part of discussions at the weekly press briefing by the Regional Director of the UN Organisation, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, where she explained that the WHO had last week, recommended two new drugs, a rheumatoid arthritis drug called baricitinib and a monoclonal antibody called sotrovimab, raising the number of WHO approved COVID-19 therapeutics to 11.

She said WHO is reviewing the data on two oral antivirals, paxlovid from Pfizer and molnupiravir from Merck, which the manufacturers report show promise in reducing the risk of hospitalization in some patients.

Further, the Regional Director explained that following initial negotiations with the Swiss pharmaceutical Roche, WHO is supporting the shipment of a limited number of vials of Tocilizumab to African countries in the coming weeks, as Cape Verde and Uganda have already received vials with Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania due to receive a consignment soon.

Tocilizumab is an immunosuppressive drug which can be used to treat patients with severe COVID-19.

Dr. Moeti also stated that further larger-scale deliveries of the drug to the continent are expected, through the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT)-Accelerator partnership, negotiations are also underway with other drug makers to procure supplies of COVID-19 treatments.

“The deep inequity that left Africa at the back of the queue for vaccines must not be repeated with life-saving treatments. Universal access to diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics will pave the shortest path to the end of this pandemic and no region of the world should be left on the fringes of this endeavour,” said Dr Moeti.

Dr. Moeti lamented that vaccination in Africa has not met the extent of vaccine supplies to the continent.

“In Africa, while vaccine supplies have been on the rise in recent months, the rate of vaccination remains low, with just 10% of the continent’s population fully vaccinated. Africa has so far received about 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and administered 327 million.

“Significant efforts are needed to ramp up the vaccination to reach a broad swathe of the population. In 2022, an average of between 250 million and 300 million doses of vaccine will be available for supply each month.“By mid-2022, the COVAX Facility expects to have enough supply for all the countries participating in the Facility’s Advance Market Commitment option to fully vaccinate 45% of their populations.”

ICU beds for COVID-19 patients still far from sufficient, says WHO

COVID-19 Update: 2.0 per 100 000 population ICU beds for COVID-19 patients still far from sufficient, says WHO

The World Health Organisation, WHO, through its Africa Regional Office COVID-19 update says, weekly COVID-19 cases in Africa have dropped significantly and deaths dipped for the first time since the peak of the fourth pandemic wave propelled by the Omicron variant.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, who revealed this at a press briefing today said, the decline nudges the continent past its shortest upsurge yet that lasted 56 days.

Newly reported cases fell by 20% in the week to 16 January, while deaths dropped by 8%. The decrease in deaths is still small and further monitoring is needed, but if the trend continues the surge in deaths will also be the shortest reported so far during this pandemic.

South Africa where Omicron was first sequenced, and which has accounted for the bulk of cases and deaths—has recorded a downward trend over the past four weeks.

Dr. Matshidiso explained that only North Africa reported an increase in cases over the past week, with a 55% spike, just as cases fell across the rest of Africa, where, as of the 16 January, there were 10.4 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and more than 233 000 deaths.

The Omicron-fuelled pandemic wave is said to have resulted in the lowest cumulative average case fatality ratio as the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases to date in Africa, stands at 0.68% compared with the three previous waves during which the case fatality ratio was above 2.4%.

The Omicron variant has now been reported in 36 African countries, and 169 globally.

The Regional Director was quoted as saying that “While the acceleration, peak and decline of this wave have been unmatched, its impact has been moderate, and Africa is emerging with fewer deaths and lower hospitalizations. But the continent has yet to turn the tables on this pandemic.

“So long as the virus continues to circulate, further pandemic waves are inevitable. Africa must not only broaden vaccinations, but also gain increased and equitable access to critical COVID-19 therapeutics to save lives and effectively combat this pandemic.”

Comparing Africa’s case fatality to the rest of the world, it was revealed that the African region’s current case fatality ratio remains the highest in the world, although it has been lowered in the last two waves.

Reference was also made to availability and efficiency of healthcare facilities in Africa and it was noted that while improvements have been made in the availability of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds for COVID-19 patients from 0.8 per 100 000 population to 2.0 per 100 000, the numbers are still far from sufficient to meet the demands of the pandemic.

And in terms of medication it was explained that currently patients with severe forms of the virus are being treated with corticosteroids and medical oxygen, and while corticosteroids are largely available and relatively affordable, but availability of medical oxygen remains a challenge across the continent.

18 million new cases

COVID 19: W.H.O RECORDS OVER 18 MILLION NEW CASES GLOBALLY IN ONE WEEK

Globally, the number of new COVID-19 cases increased in the past week (10-16 January 2022), while the number of new deaths remained similar to that of the previous week.

Across the six WHO regions, over 18 million new cases were reported this week, a 20% increase, as compared to the previous week.

Over 45 000 new deaths were also reported. As of 16 January, over 323 million confirmed cases and over 5.5 million deaths have been reported worldwide

Despite a slowdown of the increase in case incidence at the global level, all regions reported an increase in the incidence of weekly cases with the exception of the African Region, which reported a 27% decrease.

The South-East Asia region reported the largest increase in new cases last week (145%), followed by the Eastern Mediterranean Region (68%).

New weekly deaths increased in the South-East Asia Region (12%) and Region of the Americas (7%) while remaining approximately the same as the previous week in the other regions

In this edition we also provide two updates on:

  • The WHO COVID-19 global rapid risk assessment
  • The geographic distribution of circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs)
COVAX delivers its 1 billionth COVID-19 vaccine dose

COVAX delivers its 1 billionth COVID-19 vaccine dose

COVAX is leading the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, with deliveries to 144 countries to date

Together with our partners, COVAX is leading the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, with deliveries to 144 countries to date.

But the work that has gone into this milestone is only a reminder of the work that remains.

As of 13 January 2022, out of 194 Member States, 36 WHO Member States have vaccinated less than 10% of their population, and 88 less than 40%.

COVAX’s ambition was compromised by hoarding/stockpiling in rich countries, catastrophic outbreaks leading to borders and supply being locked. And a lack of sharing of licenses, technology and know how by pharmaceutical companies meant manufacturing capacity went unused.

COVAX is working with governments, manufacturers and partners to ensure that when countries receive vaccines they can get them to people quickly.
 
With updated vaccines in the pipeline, now is the moment for all citizens to demand that governments & pharmaceutical companies share health tools globally & bring an end to the death & destruction cycles of this pandemic, limit new variants and drive a global economic recovery.

COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator

WHO - Diabetes in Africa

Over 19 Million People Have Diabetes in Africa, Figure to Hit 47 Million by 2025

The W.H.O has raised serious concern over the rising cases of diabetes in the African region, attributing it to lifestyle and late diagnosis.

In it’s recent report to mark this year’s world diabetes day, the world health organization say over 19 million people are living with diabetes in Africa and this number is expected to grow to 47 million by 2025.

The report also notes that about two-thirds of people living with diabetes in African countries are unaware of their condition. The known risk factors for diabetes include family history, age, being overweight, having a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, or use of alcohol or tobacco.

Report further states that without management and lifestyle changes, diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, visual impairment, blindness and nerve damage, including erectile dysfunction. People with diabetes are also at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Surveys by WHO on access to essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic, show that access to diabetes care has been severely disrupted in the African Region.

Ultimately, services to prevent and manage diabetes care are essential components in realizing Universal Health Coverage, so that all people can access the care they need.

To improve equitable access to quality diabetes care, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti has tasked the Governments to invest in making essential products like insulin, blood glucometers and test strips available to all communities.

This should be backed by training of health workers in noncommunicable disease prevention and management at the district and community level towards improving service availability.

Furthermore Moeti urged people living with diabetes to protect themselves from severe COVID-19 illness and death, by getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they can.

The theme this year till 2023, is “Access to diabetes care” . This is because too many people still do not have access to diagnostics, medicines and monitoring devices that can help with diabetes management.