Africa faces possible “acute shortage” of COVID-19 protective equipment; Africa CDC warns

Health workers help each other as they remove their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), after the cremation of the body of Prof. Charles Kariuki who died due to COVID-19, at a crematorium in Nairobi, Kenya July 20, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Tuesday warned African countries to brace for possible “acute shortage” of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the near future.

The Africa CDC made the urgent call for preparedness to avert a possible “acute shortage” of COVID-19 personal protective equipment in its detailed publication issued on Tuesday under the theme “strategies for managing acute shortages of personal protective equipment during COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Due to disruptions in the global supply chain, some African countries may face the risk of an acute shortage of personal protective equipment,” the Africa CDC warned.

The Africa CDC, which noted that some 41 countries are practicing mandatory public use of face masks, stressed that preventing a crisis such as acute shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers “should be prioritized by health authorities in Africa as part of the COVID-19 response.”

It also stressed that the COVID-19 response team “should include actions to prevent PPE shortages in their planning, as adequate planning may minimize the negative consequences of an acute shortage.”

“Planning to prevent critical shortages should be done in advance, with clear triggers for implementation and resumption of standard practice,” the continental disease control and prevention agency added.

The Africa CDC also provided considerations and a series of options that can be used to inform country strategies in managing any shortages of personal protective equipment.

It also argued that re-use and reprocessing of single-use personal protective equipment “must be a last resort temporary measure to be adopted until stocks are replenished.”

The Africa CDC also stressed that further guidance will likely become available soon.

The Africa CDC along with the World Health Organization and other agencies are currently conducting research about personal protective equipment.

As of Tuesday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across the African continent surpassed 859,237 as the death toll from the pandemic rose to 18,160, according to the latest figures from the Africa CDC.

The Africa CDC also said that some 506,534 people who were infected with COVID-19 had recovered across the continent so far.