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» » » Covid-19 exposes inequalities between countries: WHO


 Theresa Takafuma

The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on inequalities between countries as African states have been pushed to the back of the queue in accessing test kits, personal protective equipment (PPEs) and now vaccines, World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

In a statement commemorating World Health Day on April 7, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said only 2 percent of the 548 million Covid-19 vaccines administered worldwide have been in Africa which however accounts for nearly a fifth of the global population.

"Only 11 million or 2 percent (vaccines) have been in Africa, whereas the continent accounts for around 17 percent of the global population.

"There are also inequities within countries; discrimination based on gender, place of residence, income, educational level, age, ethnicity and disability intersect to disadvantage vulnerable populations," said Dr Moeti.

She said the prominent challenge in addressing the inequalities stem from the unavailability of data regarding citizens, therefore creating a gap between nations and communities in Covid-19 response.

“A key challenge in addressing inequities is that there is limited data showing who is being missed and why, and to address this, national health information systems need to capture age, sex and equity stratified data, information that can then be used to inform decision and policy making,” said Dr Moeti.

She said WHO was working with countries to strengthen capacities to collect, manage and use data, and to enhance monitoring and action to address inequities.

She urged WHO member states, partners, civil society, communities and other stakeholders to intensify work with the organization to achieve universal health coverage and to invest in addressing the social and economic determinants of health, to tackle inequities and build a fairer, healthier world.

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