Continuing the cause to train medical staff in Africa

Dear colleagues, 

I hope most of you are enjoying the feeling of emerging from lockdown and you have remained well and safe.

Looking farther afield … so far, thankfully most of Africa has not suffered huge numbers of COVID- 19 infections. A number of factors are likely at play, the main one being age discrepancy. Mortality from COVID-19 is much higher with increasing age. Average age in Uganda is 16.7. In Canada it’s 41.1 and 18% of people are > 65 years old. In Uganda only 2% are over 65.

However, before we sigh with relief, we need to consider whether the next variant will behave similarly. Moreover, despite the lower numbers compared to much of the west, sub-Saharan Africa is far from unscathed. Stringent lockdowns have taken a serious societal and economic toll; large rises in food insecurity, teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, and disruptions in treatment of malaria, TB and HIV. 

As you are no doubt aware, medical logistics are not always optimum in many underfunded health systems and problems tend to compound. In Kenya, as authorities prepared to receive the first doses of COVID vaccines in early March, frontline workers lamented they didn’t know where to register or get inoculated. And after pausing initial rollouts because of concerns over blood clots, the Democratic Republic of Congo gave away 1.3 million out of the 1.7 million AstraZeneca doses it had received from Covax because it couldn’t administer them before they expired.

Clearly, adequately trained medical staff are an essential link in the chain of successful health care delivery and as you will be aware , this has always been the prime focus of TTD.

Further we understand that a primarily nationalistic approach to our most overarching problems will likely be disastrous. As with climate, the health of our oceans, biodiversity, the current and potential future pandemics …. we are all in this biosphere together. Rolls- Royce treatment for some and virtually no care for others is not only immoral but irrational.

Regards to all

Rob Baume

Director Twice the Doctor Foundation