With only one in 10 healthcare workers in Africa fully vaccinated against COVID-19 the International Council of Nurses is calling for urgent action to increase vaccinations in those countries.
The data sourced from nine countries in Africa including Eswatini, Kenya, Comoros, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Niger and Senegal has also revealed one third of healthcare workers have had no vaccines at all, and approximately 55% have received one dose.
Nurses are the largest single professional healthcare group, and the International Council of Nurses (ICN) is concerned that they and their colleagues will continue to be at high risk from COVID-19 because of the slow, iniquitous and incomplete roll out of vaccines.
ICN Chief Executive Officer Howard Catton said that although the data was not complete, they nevertheless indicated a serious situation that must be addressed immediately.
“This data supports reports we have had from our National Nurses Association members that this is a health and human rights crisis that requires urgent action right now.
“The slow and iniquitous progress in the delivery and roll out of vaccinations is putting our health, our healthcare systems and the wellbeing of our nurses at risk. Promises were made about putting healthcare staff at the front of the queue for vaccines, but nurses in Africa are still waiting. More nurses are going to get sick, their families are going to be at risk of harm and, tragically, more of them will die.”
Mr Catton said the pandemic would only be over when it is over for everyone everywhere.
“Which means it is in the self-interest of every nation and every person that the available vaccines are shared equitably, so that we can exit the pandemic and get our lives back to normal,” he said.
“Protecting our existing nursing staff is a crucial measure if we are going to maximise our ability to save lives and end the pandemic as soon as possible. We have recently seen a billionaire take a healthcare worker on a journey into space. But back here on planet Earth we have millions of nurses waiting for a vaccine, they should not have to wish on a star for a vaccine. They should be prioritised, and it should be as of right that they receive that vaccine.”