South Sudan, a nation of 11 million, has more vice presidents (five) than ventilators (four). The Central African Republic has three ventilators for its five million people. In Liberia, which is similar in size, there are six working machines — and one of them sits behind the gates of the United States Embassy.
In all, fewer than 2,000 working ventilators have to serve hundreds of millions of people in public hospitals across 41 African countries, the World Health Organization says, compared with more than 170,000 in the United States.
Ten countries in Africa have none at all.
Glaring disparities like these are just part of the reason people across Africa are steeling themselves for the coronavirus, fearful of outbreaks that could be catastrophic in countries with struggling health systems.
From The New York Times. Story by By Ruth Maclean and Simon Marks.
The gaps are so entrenched that many experts are worried about chronic shortages of much more basic supplies needed to slow the spread of the disease and treat the sick on the continent — things like masks, oxygen and, even more fundamentally, soap and water.
Clean running water and soap are in such short supply that only 15 percent of sub-Saharan Africans had access to basic hand-washing facilities in 2015, according to the United Nations. In Liberia, it is even worse — 97 percent of homes did not have clean water and soap in 2017, the U.N. says.
“The things that people need are simple things,” said Kalipso Chalkidou, the director of global health policy at the Center for Global Development, a research group. “Not high-tech things.”
Read more at The New York Times.
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