A new global report said death rates among adults in the 30 days after being admitted to critical care with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection appear considerably higher in Africa.
It said that (average 48.2%; 1,483/3,077 patients) than globally (average 31.5%; from a meta-analysis of 34,859 patients, according a prospective observational study from 64 hospitals in 10 African countries published in The Lancet.
The study released on Friday, a copy of which was made available to the Sunreporter said that “ a critical factor in these excess deaths may be a lack of intensive care resources and underuse of those available, say the researchers, who are all based in Africa.
“For example, half of patients died without being given oxygen, and while 68% of hospitals had access to renal dialysis, only 10% (330/3,073) of severely ill patients received it.
“The leaders of the study in Nigeria, Prof Akinyinka Omigbodun, University College Hospital, Ibadan, and Prof Adesoji Ademuyiwa, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, reported that the challenges faced by critically ill Nigerian COVID-19 patients could be partly mitigated by not only ensuring the availability of the human and material resources needed for the care of these patients, but by devoting the required attention to the distribution of these resources across all the centres offering critical care services across the country.
“It can be demoralizing for health personnel to watch helplessly as patients succumb to shortages of the oxygen needed to keep them alive till the body can tackle the virus.
“Or lack of access to dialysis to deal with acute kidney injury that is completely reversible with prompt care” they said.
Professor Bruce Biccard from Groote Schuur Hospital and the University of Cape Town, South Africa who co-led the research says: “Our study is the first to give a detailed and comprehensive picture of what is happening to people who are severely ill with COVID-19 in Africa.
“With data from multiple countries and hospitals. Sadly, it indicates that our ability to provide sufficient care is compromised by a shortage of critical care beds and limited resources within intensive care units.
“Poor access to potential life-saving interventions such as dialysis, proning (turning patients on their front to improve breathing), and blood oxygen monitoring could be factors in the deaths of these patients.
“And may also partly explain why one in eight patients had therapy withdrawn or limited.
“We hope these findings can help prioritise resources and guide the management of severely ill patients – and ultimately save lives – in resource-limited settings around the world.
“The study focused on 64 hospitals in 10 countries (Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, and South Africa)” it said.