The impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the supply of critical health services in Sub-Saharan Africa has been a source of concern. Experts from country and global public health institutes and ministries of health examined trends in selected maternal, neonatal, and child health outcomes as part of the Clock ticking down to 2030 for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health country partnerships. health services, as well as general service utilization.
Methods 12 nation teams gathered monthly regular health facility information by area for the period 2017–2020, which were then corrected following comprehensive quality evaluations. The amount of any shift in service usage was estimated using mixed effects linear regressions for every month from March to December 2020, as well as for the whole COVID-19 period in 2020.
Health facility reporting was more thorough in 2020 than in previous years (median of 12 nations, 96 percent nationally, and 91 percent of districts 90 percent), and extreme outliers were uncommon. The country’s median drop in utilization of nine health services from March to December 2020 was 3.9 percent (range: 8.2 to 2.4). The highest decreases were in inpatient admissions (median=17.0 percent) and outpatient admissions (median=7.1 percent), whereas prenatal, delivery, and vaccination services had smaller decreases (median=2% to 6%). Eastern African countries suffered larger losses than West African countries, with rural regions suffering slightly more than metropolitan sectors.
The largest decline in services was seen in general services from March to June 2020, when the reaction was the sharpest as evaluated by a stringency index.
After comprehensive data quality review and correction, the district health facility reports provide a sound foundation for trend assessment. To meet the SDG health objectives by 2030, even the minor negative impact on service utilization reported in most countries would necessitate considerable efforts, supported by international partners.