ecancermedicalscience

Review

Cancer care and COVID-19: tailoring recommendations for the African radiation oncology context

18 Nov 2020
Lotfi Kochbati, Verna Vanderpuye, Rim Moujahed, Mouna Ben Rejeb, Zeineb Naimi, Tajudeen Olasinde

Africa is the second most populous continent after Asia comprising 54 countries. Given the healthcare system deficiencies in Africa, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was expected to be disastrous. The first case of COVID-19 on the continent was reported in Egypt on 14 February 2020. By 13 May, cases had been reported in all 54 countries. Several practice guidelines specific to radiation oncology departments have been published, including prioritisation criteria for postponing radiotherapy, continuation of treatment, hypofractionation or even omitting radiotherapy. The oncology community in Africa has suddenly needed to protect both patients and caregivers and to ensure continuity of essential clinical services despite several challenges. Considering equipment unavailability, lack of human resources and poor infrastructure, tailoring COVID-19 pandemic management to the African context seems mandatory and a unified approach to guideline development in this context is encouraged. In this article, we discuss contextual issues coming into play, highlighting steps to be taken by radiotherapy centres in Africa to mitigate fallouts from the current pandemic to ensure the safety of our patients and staff as well as the impact on future care.

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