An Africa-wide study of hospitalised Covid-19 patients shows that the continent is facing far higher mortality rates in intensive care units than other parts of the world, and that the higher death rates are best explained by scarce resources.
According to a report by news outlet Ground Up, a study titled “An African, multi-centre evaluation of patient care and clinical outcomes for patients with Covid-19 infection admitted to high-care or intensive care units” is currently awaiting peer review.
The study’s aim is to find out how Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care units are affected by the unit’s resources, comorbidities and critical care intervention, writes Ground Up.
The study, which is led by Professor Bruce Biccard from the University of Cape Town, included 1,243 patients in 38 hospitals in Egypt (9), Ethiopia (7), Ghana (2), Libya (7), Nigeria (2) and South Africa (11) between April and early September.
According to early findings, 631 of the 1,153 adult patients (55%) who were referred to intensive care or high-care units following suspected or known Covid-19 infection in the studied hospitals died.
Ground Up reports that by comparison, global mortality of patients admitted to intensive care is 31%.
In these hospital ICUs, the mortality rate is between 18 and 29 deaths per 100 admissions higher than in the rest of the world.
Many African countries continue to deal with limited resources in their health facilities, especially ICUs, and this is a contributing factor to the high mortality rate.
Ground Up reports that Africa is estimated to have 0.8 critical beds per 100,000 people. According to the study, this low volume of beds may lead to only very sick patients being admitted to critical care.