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Africa battling 125 disease outbreaks – WHO

by Haruna Gimba
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By Asmau Ahmad

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said there were 125 disease outbreaks currently in the WHO African region.

The Senior Adviser of the Global Joint External Evaluation Secretariat, Dr Hendrick Ormel, who disclosed this, listed the diseases to include Covid-19, cholera, yellow fever, mpox, measles, wild poliovirus and circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus.

Ormel also said 20 human-made and natural disasters, including cyclones, drought, conflicts, floods and civil unrest were currently on in Africa.

The countries in the WHO African region are 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.

Others 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, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

However, Nigeria is battling multiple disease outbreaks like Covid-19, measles, mpox, yellow fever, Lassa fever, meningitis, cholera, diphtheria, and anthrax, among others.

Speaking with newsmen, Ormel stated that poverty and increased interaction between animals and humans were some of the reasons for the multiple outbreaks.

He said, “The reasons are not far-fetched; it is because of the geographical location and the interaction between wildlife, livestock and human beings.

“It is also because of poverty and corruption. All these are part of the reasons why we have these outbreaks of diseases.”

He said more than 60 per cent of diseases were from animals, especially in Nigeria.

He added, “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 the farm.

“For Nigeria, you need to be able to detect diseases as soon as possible, because the sooner you detect it the easier it is to respond to the outbreak.”

According to him, Nigeria needs to empower and enable the implementation of the National Action Plan for Health Security to address gaps in health security identified by the Joint External Evaluation, the lessons from Covid-19 pandemic and other emergencies.

NAPHS is an indigenous multi-year planning process that can accelerate the implementation of International Health Regulations core capacities, and is based on a One Health for all-hazards, whole-of-government approach.

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