Concerns for low-resource countries, with under-prepared intensive care units, facing the COVID-19 pandemic



Elhadi M, Msherghi A, Alkeelani M, Alsuyihili A, Khaled A, Buzreg A, Boughididah T, Abukhashem M, Alhashimi A, Khel S, Gaffaz R, Ben Saleim N, Bahroun S, Elharb A, Eisay M, Alnafati N, Almiqlash B, Biala M, Alghanai E.


Infect Dis Health. 2020 Nov;25(4):227-232. doi: 10.1016/j.idh.2020.05.008. Epub 2020 Jun 5.


BACKGROUND: Low-resource countries with fragile healthcare systems lack trained healthcare professionals and specialized resources for COVID-19 patient hospitalization, including mechanical ventilators. Additional socio-economic complications such as civil war and financial crisis in Libya and other low-resource countries further complicate healthcare delivery. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey evaluating hospital and intensive care unit’s capacity and readiness was performed from 16 leading Libyan hospitals in March 2020. In addition, a survey was conducted among 400 doctors who worked in these hospitals to evaluate the status of personal protective equipment. RESULTS: Out of 16 hospitals, the highest hospital capacity was 1000 in-patient beds, while the lowest was 25 beds with a median of 200 (IQR 52-417, range 25-1000) hospital beds. However, a median of only eight (IQR 6-14, range 3-37) available functioning ICU beds were reported in these hospitals. Only 9 (IQR 4.5-14, range 2-20) mechanical ventilators were reported and none of the hospitals had a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction machine for COVID-19 testing. Moreover, they relied on one of two central laboratories located in major cities. Our PPE survey revealed that 56.7% hospitals lacked PPE and 53% of healthcare workers reported that they did not receive proper PPE training. In addition, 70% reported that they were buying the PPE themselves as hospitals did not provide them. CONCLUSION: This study provides an alarming overview of the unpreparedness of Libyan hospitals for detecting and treating patients with COVID-19 and limiting the spread of the pandemic. CI – Copyright © 2020 Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Link/DOI: 10.1016/j.idh.2020.05.008