KIU, Main Campus - The World Health Organization (WHO) and the UNAIDS have warned that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could be drastic if HIV services are closed, supply chains interrupted and healthcare services overwhelmed.
On 11th May 2020, the United Nations released a statement stating that a six-month interruption of antiretroviral therapy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, could lead to over 500,000 deaths in Africa in the next five years. This could turn the clock back to 2008, when more than 950,000 AIDS-related deaths were recorded in the region.
”The terrible prospect of half a million more people in Africa dying of AIDS-related illnesses is like stepping back into history. We must read this as a wake-up call to countries to identify ways to sustain all vital health services,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General.
Since HIV infections among children in sub-Saharan Africa have declined by 43% from 250,000 in 2010 to 140,000 in 2018, the disruption of these services could affect the significant strides made over the years in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and causing a rise by as much as 104% in Uganda.
“We cannot sit by and allow hundreds of thousands of people, many of them young, to die needless deaths. I urge governments to ensure that every man, woman and child living with HIV gets regular supplies of antiretroviral therapy – something that’s literally a life-saver,” said Winnie Byanyima, the UNAIDS Executive Director.
The UN bodies have ensured that global supplies of tests and treatments continue to flow to the countries in need of the treatment in support of these African countries.