PURPOSE The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted cancer care globally. There are limited data of its impact in Africa. This study aims to characterize COVID-19 response strategies and impact of COVID-19 on cancer care and explore misconceptions in Africa. METHODS We conducted a web-based cross-sectional survey of oncology providers in Africa between June and August 2020. Descriptive statistics and comparative analysis by income groups were performed. RESULTS One hundred twenty-two participants initiated the survey, of which 79 respondents from 18 African countries contributed data. Ninety-four percent (66 of 70) reported country mitigation and suppression strategies, similar across income groups. Unique strategies included courier service and drones for delivery of cancer medications (9 of 70 and 6 of 70, respectively). Most cancer centers remained open, but . 75% providers reported a decrease in patient volume. Not previously reported is the fear of infectivity leading to staff shortages and decrease in patient volumes. Approximately one third reported modifications of all cancer treatment modalities, resulting in treatment delays. A majority of participants reported ≤ 25 confirmed cases (44 of 68, 64%) and ≤ 5 deaths because of COVID-19 (26 of 45, 58%) among patients with cancer. Common misconceptions were that Africans were less susceptible to the virus (53 of 70, 75.7%) and decreased transmission of the virus in the African heat (44 of 70, 62.9%). CONCLUSION Few COVID-19 cases and deaths were reported among patients with cancer. However, disruptions and delays in cancer care because of the pandemic were noted. The pandemic has inspired tailored innovative solutions in clinical care delivery for patients with cancer, which may serve as a blueprint for expanding care and preparing for future pandemics. Ongoing public education should address COVID-19 misconceptions. The results may not be generalizable to the entire African continent because of the small sample size.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Yehoda M. Martei Research Funding: Celgene. Fogarty International Center and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award number K01 TW 011481 (YMM)
© 2021 by American Society of Clinical Oncology