As coronavirus is rapidly spreading across the world and countries are scrambling to buy life-saving equipment, health experts have warned that the virus could devastate the regions that lack healthcare equipment and infrastructure. During such unprecedented times, South Sudan, which has a population of 12 million people, has just four ventilators and 24 ICU beds, according to data from the International Rescue Committee (IRC). With healthcare systems grappling to contain the virus outbreak, COVID-19 cases have topped 2.3 million globally.
While South Sudan has one ventilator for every three million people, the IRC also reported that Burkina Faso has 11 ventilators, Sierra Leone 13, and Central African Republic 3. According to the data, Venezuela also has only 84 ICU beds for a population of 32 million, and 90 per cent of hospitals face shortages of medicine and critical supplies. While speaking to an international media outlet, Elinor Raikes, who is the vice president and head of program delivery for IRC, said that the organisation has seen how the pandemic has quickly overwhelmed health systems in countries with relatively advanced health systems.
Elinor said that there is an immediate cause for concern about how it would quickly overwhelm countries with weaker health systems. According to WHO, found one in every five people who catch the virus need hospital care and one region under close watch is Africa, which has already recorded more than 12,400 cases. The regional director for Africa at WHO, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, reportedly said that the virus has the potential not only to cause thousands of deaths but to also ‘unleash economic and social devastation’.
Last week, WHO also reported that there are fewer than 2,000 functional ventilators in 41 African countries and the total number of available intensive care unit beds in 43 countries is less than 5,000. Authorities are also concerned about the high prevalence of tuberculosis, HIV, malaria and diabetes in the region. Moreover, healthcare workers and experts are also concerned that the virus will hit a vulnerable population that is already dealing with complex needs.
Meanwhile, coronavirus, which originated in China in December 2019, has now claimed over 160,000 lives worldwide as of April 19. According to the tally by an international news agency, the pandemic has now spread to 210 countries and territories and has infected more than 2.3 million people. Out of the total infections, more than 600,000 have recovered but the easily spread virus is continuing to disrupt many lives. Major cities have been put under lockdown in almost all countries including Spain, and the economy is struggling.