The coronavirus pandemic has shown the importance of investing in health systems that will improve readiness to prevent and control outbreaks, World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa said Tuesday.

Matshidiso Moeti made the comments at a virtual session of the 70th WHO Regional Committee for Africa. At the virtual session, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, African health ministers and stakeholders addressed Africa’s pertinent health issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 has proven once again the importance of investing in health systems, enhancing equitable access to care, improving readiness to prevent and control outbreaks… and enabling communities to play their role in realizing better health,” Moeti said.

“More than 100,000 health workers have been trained in surveillance, case management and infection prevention and control, and millions of items of essential supplies have been shipped and replenished.

“The concerted actions of countries, with support from WHO and other partners, have averted the catastrophe foretold in early projections of how this virus would affect the African Region,” she added.

For his part, Tedros said, the number of cases has doubled just in the past six weeks.

“Since the earliest days of the pandemic, the WHO has been working round the clock at all three levels to support you, our African member states,” he added.

Need for global health solidarity

Amira Elfadil, commissioner of African Union social affairs, said the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has reignited the need for global health solidarity and partnerships, in order to arrive at collective and decisive solutions that will advance global public health security and safety.

Jacqueline Lydia Mikolo, health minister of the Republic of Congo, urged the Africa Region to “continue and intensify its mobilization in solidarity to produce inputs and other protective materials, share experiences and research results, and pool resources for screening and care.”

Moustafa Mijiyawa, Togolese health minister, said the humanity has been hit by this terrible pandemic with devastating effects on economies and societies.

“Yet, the momentum of collaboration and international solidarity generated by COVID-19 rightly reminds us of our common destiny,” Mijiyawa added.

Coronavirus cases in Africa are now close to 1.2 million and the death toll on the continent is nearing 28,000 with 921,783 recoveries, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said in an update Tuesday.

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