This Weekly Bulletin focuses on public health emergencies occurring in the WHO African Region. The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 107 events in the region. This week’s main articles cover key new and ongoing events, including:
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the WHO African Region
Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of the Congo
Humanitarian crisis South Sudan
For each of these events, a brief description, followed by public health measures implemented and an interpretation of the situation is provided.
A table is provided at the end of the bulletin with information on all new and ongoing public health events currently being monitored in the region, as well as recent events that have largely been controlled and thus closed.
Major issues and challenges include:
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve rapidly in Africa, with Comoros reporting its first confirmed case during the week, leaving Lesotho as the only country in the WHO African Region with no reported confirmed cases. The disease trend has been growing exponentially in the past two weeks, raising concern that Africa might be the next epicenter of the pandemic in the coming weeks to months. This calls for governments in the region to step up their response and mitigation measures, with a focus on empowering the population to own the required interventions. The need to ensure continuous provision of essential services cannot be over emphasised.
The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of the Congo has locally re-emerged in Beni Health Zone, with a total of seven new cases since the 10 April 2020, four of whom have died, two in the community and two in treatment centres. Beni remains the only affected zone, the remaining 28 previously affected health zones having reported no new confirmed cases in the past 42 days. Contact follow-up is ongoing in Beni, with vaccination of a further 940 people, along with enhanced infection prevention and control activities and community sensitization and engagement.
Serious challenges remain in mitigating the effects of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, where there are an estimated 7.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, with 6 million of these projected to be severely food insecure between February and April 2020. There are limited resources to cover all affected counties, with continuing insecurity, one of the main drivers of the situation. In addition, there is a US$ 20 million gap in funding that is required for WHO operations. Additionally, COVID-19 response in the region requires extra resources, if it is not to hamper response to other health and humanitarian needs.