By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
Save the Children has warned that the lives of thousands of children across Africa are at risk as the hard-hitting second wave of COVID-19 surges across the continent.
The agency in a statement issued on Thursday, feared many African countries will be forced to wait months before they can vaccinate even the most vulnerable people and essential frontline health workers, deeply impacting the lives of children.
It said Africa has six of the top ten countries with the fastest increase in the numbers of confirmed cases, saying the continent’s COVID-19 mortality rate is also now higher than the global average, marking a grim development from previous phases of the virus.
“The case fatality rate across Africa is now at 2.5 percent, above the global average of 2.2 percent, with the rapid spread of the highly contagious South African variant of particular concern.”
Save the Children is urgently calling for wealthier countries to prioritise global equitable access to all COVID-19 medical tools, including oxygen and vaccines.
Medical oxygen is universally available in rich countries, while across much of Africa it is not available or is a luxury item.
“Any delays in vaccinating health workers could further disrupt nutrition, immunisation and other essential health services for children if health workers fall ill, or families needing healthcare stay away from hospitals because of fears of contracting COVID-19.
“Malawi now has the second highest rate of increasing confirmed cases in the world, with cases doubling in just twelve days, from 9,991 on January 14 to 20,830 cases on January 26. Malawi is in the “Least Prepared” group in the 2019 Global Health Security Index, with particularly low scores on response to an epidemic (176th out of 195 countries).