Coronavirus impact affecting vital health services in Africa: WHO

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, March 2, 2020. More than $1.1 trillion was wiped off the value of developing-nation stocks and bonds last week as the economic impact of the coronavirus worsened. Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, March 2, 2020. More than $1.1 trillion was wiped off the value of developing-nation stocks and bonds last week as the economic impact of the coronavirus worsened. Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic is having a knock-on effect on other vital health services in Africa as countries are forced to redirect already stretched resources, a regional head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

With 1.8. million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 43,700 fatalities, Africa has been spared the worst consequences of COVID-19, with relatively lower death rates and infections seen elsewhere.

“A preliminary analysis by WHO indicates COVID-19 is hitting other health services really hard,” Matshidiso Moeti, Africa director for the WHO, said in an online press conference.

Lockdowns imposed by countries to halt the spread of the virus in May, June, and July contributed to a more than 50% drop in services monitored by WHO.

From January to August, an extra 1.3 million children aged under one missed their first doses of the measles vaccine, compared with the same period last year, Moeti said.

In Nigeria, for example, more than 362,000 pregnant women missed their ante-natal care between March and August.