WHO Africa: Malnourished people at greater risk of severe COVID-19 illness

WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said COVID-19 had reached all 47 countries in the WHO region, with Lesotho confirming its first case this week.

WHO’s Africa head Matshidiso Moeti. Picture: Twitter/@MoetiTshidi

JOHANNESBURG - World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti on Thursday said that more than 200 million people were under-nourished and the COVID-19 pandemic was making it worse.

Moeti said that COVID-19 had reached all 47 countries in the WHO region, with Lesotho confirming its first case this week.

Africa has more than 72,000 positive cases and 2,500 deaths.

Moeti said that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, food security was a concern for the continent. She said that the situation was getting worse.

“Undernourished people have weaker immune systems and may be at greater risk of severe illness if infected. On the other side, we also know that obesity and diabetes are linked to the higher risk of hospitalisation and death related to COVID-19,” she said.

Moeti also touched on the controversial matter regarding the so-called vaccine for the virus from Madagascar.

“We are offering to work together with them based on the data that would have been gathered about the efficacy of this Madagascar product,” Moeti said.

She added: “What we are encouraging is very much along these lines and in line with these principles that any medicine that is being used, including this product from Madagascar, we advise it must be taken through some assessments. How effective is it? Under what sorts of conditions could it be used? What are some of the side-effects that might be undesirable? What could be the dosage that needs to be adjusted?”

The WHO in Africa said it was working with governments on how to handle the situation.

WATCH: AU to test Madagascar's so-called coronavirus remedy

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.