The World Health Organisation (WHO)says there is increasing evidence that Africans living with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension and diabetes are more likely to suffer severe cases of COVID-19 and die.

In South Africa, which accounts for nearly half of all cases and deaths on the continent, 61% of the COVID-19 patients in hospitals had hypertension and 52% had diabetes, and 45% of people aged 60–69 who died from COVID-19 also had hypertension.

In Kenya, around half of COVID-19 deaths occurred in people with NCDs, while in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, such patients accounted for 85% of all COVID-19 deaths.

According to a WHO preliminary analysis of 14 countries in the African region, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and asthma are the co-morbidities most associated with COVID-19 patients.

These chronic conditions require continuous treatment, but as governments address the ongoing pandemic, health services for NCDs have been severely disrupted.

In a statement, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti says, “Millions of Africans living with non-communicable diseases are at greater risk of complications or dying from COVID-19. So it is very concerning to find that just when people with hypertension and other chronic conditions most need support, many are being left out in the cold.”

Click below to read the full statement: