What is the true Covid toll in Africa?

Dear colleagues and supporters,

According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to have pushed up to 40 million people in Africa into extreme poverty.

Now, the war in Ukraine is causing an escalation in food prices in view of disruption to grain supplies by two of the largest producers in the world.

More funds required for food means less available for medical needs which of course escalate as malnutrition is thrown into the mix.

Since the start of the pandemic, the continent’s capacity to manage COVID-19 cases has gradually improved, with the increased availability of trained health workers, oxygen and other medical supplies. The number of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds has increased across the continent, from 8 per 1 million people in 2020 to 20 per million today. WHO has also helped increase the number of oxygen production plants in Africa from 68 to 115 – a 60% rise – through supporting the repair, maintenance and procurement of new oxygen plants. Where plants have been set-up, the cost of oxygen has decreased by 40%. Despite these improvements, oxygen availability remains a concern, and a large majority of patients who require oxygen as part of their clinical treatment plan are unable to access it.

More than two-thirds of people living in Africa may have contracted COVID-19 over the past two years, about 97 times more than the number of reported infections, a World Health Organization (WHO) report has suggested.

While the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus has had a catastrophic effect on some parts of the globe, Africa appeared to have escaped the worst and was not as badly hit by the pandemic. 

But ……

South Africa recorded 303,969 excess deaths from natural causes between May 3, 2020 and now – yet official figures show that COVID killed 100,075 people since the start of the pandemic. These excess deaths were almost certainly from unreported COVID.


Although reported mortality and morbidity may not be startling in Africa, true figures are probably much more stark especially in countries where health statistics/epidemiology is not the main priority. Just accessing any health care whatsoever is the priority and can be a real challenge in countries where the total annual spending on health per capita is only $A30-40. (e.g. Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo).

In Australia it’s $7,500 per capita per annum and this is similar in other OECD countries other than the U.S. where expenditure is about double!

Supporting the infrastructure that supplies medical services to Africans who are in this quagmire through no fault of their own seems the right and fair thing to do.

“Doctor’s Day in May” is almost upon us.

Please consider your contribution if you are in a position to do so.    

Regards to all.

Rob Baume

On behalf of the Directors of Twice the Doctor Foundation