Friday, August 12 2022

Africa is seeing an increase in deliveries of vaccine doses to the continent, but only one in four of its health workers have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the regional office of the World Health Organization said on Thursday. .

The most common reasons for low immunization rates among health workers on the continent of about 1.3 billion people include vaccine hesitancy and unavailability of immunization services, especially in rural areas, a said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO director for Africa, during an online press briefing.

This is in stark contrast to more developed countries where more than 80% of health and care workers in 22 mostly high-income countries have been fully immunized, according to a recent WHO study.

Low immunization rates among health workers in Africa puts not only their own health and well-being at risk, but also that of the patients they care for, Moeti warned, calling on African countries to urgently step up the deployment of vaccines for those on the front lines.

Africa suffers from a severe shortage of health workers, with only one country in the region having the recommended number of health workers to provide essential health services.

Any loss of these essential workers to COVID-19 due to illness or death therefore has a significant impact on service delivery capacity, the WHO office in Nigeria said in a statement.

Many African health workers, including those working in rural communities, still have concerns about vaccine safety and adverse side effects, WHO Regional Director Moeti said.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, only 300,000 or 18% of its 1.6 million health workers have been fully immunized.

A recent study also revealed that only 40% of health workers intend to receive the vaccine while less than 50% hope to be vaccinated in Ethiopia, the WHO said.

To increase the immunization rate among health workers in Nigeria, nurses and midwives need to be more involved in the immunization process, according to the president of the National Association of Nurses and Midwives of Nigeria.

With this and through health education, many people will be convinced to take the vaccine, said Michael Nnachi. When nurses are directly involved, we can do more.

Only around 7% of Africa’s population has been fully immunized, mainly due to delays in vaccine supply and vaccine hesitancy, Moeti said. But after months of difficulty securing needed supplies, Africa is now seeing an acceleration in the availability of vaccines.

As more doses arrive on the continent, more countries are introducing mandates often targeting government employees and public places to boost vaccination rates.

It will be good to balance approaches of persuasion, information sharing, expanding delivery capacity, scaling up campaigns as well as using this additional tool to further motivate people to get vaccinated because ‘they need to get the services they need,’ Moeti said. .

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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