“And more than 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are caused by pathogens that are common with wild or domestic animals.” WHO This was announced to journalists at a media briefing by Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti.
“They are responsible for a significant burden of disease, causing about a billion people to become ill and millions to die each year worldwide.“.
analysis shows that there have been 1 843 confirmed public health events in the African region since 2001, 30 per cent of which were zoonotic outbreaks, as animal-to-human communicable diseases are known.
Although numbers have increased over the past two decades, 2019 and 2020 saw a particular surge, with zoonotic pathogens accounting for half of all public health events.
Although there has been an increase in monkeypox since April compared to the same period in 2021, the numbers are still below the peak of 2020, when the region recorded its highest monthly incidence rate.
After a sudden drop in 2021, 203 confirmed cases monkeypox have been reported in the region since the beginning of the year as the zoonotic disease has spread worldwide to many countries where it was not endemic.
Available data on 175 cases this year in Africa show that just over half of the patients, on average, are 17-year-old males.
“Africa must not be allowed to become a hotbed of new infectious diseasesDr. Moeti said.
Increasing urbanization that has encroached on natural habitats is likely responsible for this increase in animal-to-human disease transmission, along with growing demand for food, which has resulted in faster road, rail and air links between outlying areas and cities. areas.
“Ebola outbreaks in West Africa are evidence of the devastating number of cases and deaths that can occur when zoonotic diseases arrive in our citiesshe remarked.
Africa needs a “multi-sectoral response” that includes human, animal and environmental health experts working in partnership with communities, a senior WHO official said.
“Equally important are robust surveillance mechanisms and response capabilities to rapidly detect pathogens and take robust action to contain any potential spread,” she added.
Since 2008, WHO has been collaborating with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health to combat outbreaks of zoonoses on the continent.
Dr. Moeti noted that all three agencies have made every effort to end the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, describing it as the kind of collaborative approach needed to counter the threat, “and give us the best chance to prevent another big shock for health in Africa.
The COVID plateau continues
turning towards COVID-19she said that while the number of cases on the continent declined slightly last week, the overall plateau persists due to the rapid increase in cases in North Africa for the eighth consecutive week.
“The spike is driven primarily by the deteriorating situation in Morocco and Tunisia, which led to a 17 percent increase in new cases in North Africa compared to last week’s statistics,” Dr. Moeti said.
At the same time, improved rapid detection and response capabilities have enabled Botswana, Namibia and South Africa to reverse the recent spike in new cases – a turnaround that is expected to follow in all countries in North Africa with the same medical capabilities.
“The curve has already begun to decline in Morocco.“, she said.
Vaccination is still important
While the current phase of the pandemic may be characterized by relatively low morbidity and risk of hospitalization and death, the Omicron variant remains highly contagious and the pandemic is far from over.
The potential for surges highlights that “countries cannot afford to relax” the vaccination of their populations against COVID-19, “especially their healthcare workers, the elderly and people with underlying diseases,” a WHO official said.