In a stark revelation, Dr. Hendrick Ormel, the Senior Adviser of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Joint External Evaluation Secretariat, has sounded the alarm, declaring that a staggering 125 disease outbreaks are currently afflicting the WHO African region.
These outbreaks encompass a range of infectious threats, including COVID-19, cholera, yellow fever, mpox, measles, wild poliovirus, and circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus.
Moreover, in an unfortunate turn of events, Africa is grappling with a concurrent onslaught of 20 human-made and natural disasters.
These crises encompass cyclones, droughts, conflicts, floods, and civil unrest, further exacerbating the continent’s challenges.
The WHO African region encompasses a diverse array of countries, including Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau.
Other countries within this region are Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Notably, Nigeria, one of Africa’s most populous nations, is grappling with multiple disease outbreaks simultaneously, including COVID-19, measles, mpox, yellow fever, Lassa fever, meningitis, cholera, diphtheria, and anthrax.
Dr. Ormel, in a candid conversation with our correspondent, attributed these numerous outbreaks to factors such as poverty, increased interaction between animals and humans, and regional corruption.
He emphasized, “The reasons are not far-fetched; it is because of the geographical location and the interaction between wildlife, livestock, and human beings. It is also because of poverty and corruption.
” All these are part of the reasons why we have these outbreaks of diseases.”
Highlighting a crucial point, Dr. Ormel emphasized that more than 60 percent of these diseases originate from animals, a situation particularly prevalent in Nigeria.
Dr. Ormel underscored the importance of rapid disease detection, stating, “We cannot change the climate or the geography, but it is extremely important that we implement measures to address gaps in health security and emergencies.
“The implementation is very important, and this is needed in hospitals and on the farm.”
He further called for Nigeria to empower and enable the implementation of the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) to address the identified gaps in health security.
NAPHS, with its emphasis on a One Health for all-hazards, whole-of-government approach, is regarded as a critical initiative to bolster health security and emergency response in Nigeria.
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