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Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21266976


IntroductionThe COVID-19 pandemic and its collateral damage severely impact health systems globally and risk to worsen the malaria situation in endemic countries. Malaria is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Ghana. This study aims to analyze routine surveillance data to assess possible effects on the malaria burden in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Northern Region of Ghana. MethodsMonthly routine data from the District Health Information Management System II (DHIMS2) of the Northern Region of Ghana were analyzed. Overall outpatient department visits and malaria incidence rates from the years 2015 to 2019 were compared to the corresponding data of the year 2020. ResultsCompared to the corresponding periods of the years 2015 to 2019, overall visits and malaria incidence in pediatric and adult outpatient departments in northern Ghana decreased in March and April 2020, when major movement and social restrictions were implemented in response to the pandemic. Incidence slightly rebounded afterwards in 2020 but stayed below the average of the previous years. Data from inpatient departments showed a similar but more pronounced trend when compared to outpatient departments. In pregnant women, however, malaria incidence in outpatient departments increased after the first COVID-19 wave. DiscussionThe findings from this study show that the COVID-19 pandemic affects the malaria burden in health facilities of Ghana, with declines in in- and outpatient rates. Pregnant women may experience reduced access to intermittent preventive malaria treatment and insecticide treated nets, resulting in subsequent higher malaria morbidity. Further data from other African countries, particularly on community-based studies, are needed to fully determine the impact of the pandemic on the malaria situation.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21258914


BackgroundThe COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented challenges to health systems worldwide, including the control of non-COVID-19 diseases. Malaria cases and deaths may increase due to the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic in malaria endemic countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). ObjectivesThis scoping review aims to summarize information on public health relevant effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the malaria situation in SSA. MethodsReview of publications and manuscripts on preprint servers, in peer-reviewed journals and in grey literature documents from December 1, 2019, to June 9, 2021. A structured search was conducted on different databases using predefined eligibility criteria for the selection of articles. ResultsA total of 51 papers have been included in the analysis. Modeling papers have predicted a significant increase in malaria cases and malaria deaths in SSA due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many papers provided potential explanations for expected COVID-19 effects on the malaria burden; these ranged from relevant diagnostical and clinical aspects, to reduced access to health care services, impaired availability of curative and preventive commodities and medications, and effects on malaria prevention campaigns. Compared to previous years, fewer country reports provided data on the actual number of malaria cases and deaths in 2020, with mixed results. While highly endemic countries reported evidence of decreased malaria cases in health facilities, low endemic countries reported overall higher numbers of malaria cases and deaths in 2020. ConclusionsThe findings from this review provide evidence for a significant but diverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on malaria in SSA. There is the need to further investigate the public health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the malaria burden.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21258300


BackgroundThe testing capacity for SARS-CoV-2 in Africa is rather limited. Antigen-detection rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) are a cheap and rapid alternative to reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests, but there is little data about their performance under real life conditions in tropical countries. ObjectiveTo evaluate the performance of a standard Ag-RDT in a population of a major hospital in northern Ghana. MethodsProspective, cross-sectional, blinded verification of the performance of the SD Biosensor Standard Q SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDT under real life conditions in 135 symptomatic patients and 58 contacts of RT-PCR positives at Tamale Teaching Hospital in February 2021. Nasopharyngeal samples were taken under standard conditions and tested against RT-PCR in the hospital laboratory. Results193 participants (median age 35 years, 109 male) were included into the study for which both RT-PCR test and Ag-RDT results were available. A total of 42 (22%) were RT-PCR positive. Of the 42 RT-PCR positives, 27 were Ag-RDT positive, resulting in a sensitivity of 64% (95% CI 49-79). Sensitivity among symptomatic patients was 58% (95% CI 38-78). 123 were identified Ag-RDT negatives of the 151 RT-PCR negatives, resulting in a specificity of 81% (95% CI 75-87). ConclusionsSARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs appear to have a rather low sensitivity and particularly a low specificity under real life conditions in Africa. The role of existing Ag-RDTs in countries with high-temperature climates and limited resources still needs more data and discussion.