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PLoS Global Public Health ; 2(4), 2022.
Article in English | CAB Abstracts | ID: covidwho-1854950


With the Covid-19 pandemic and the introduction of the WHO's Essential Diagnostics List (EDL), increasing global attention is focused on the crucial role of diagnostics in achieving universal health coverage. To create national EDLs and to aid health system planning, it is vital to understand the most common conditions with which people present at primary care health facilities. We undertook a systematic review of the most common reasons for primary care visits in low- and middle-income countries. Six databases were searched for articles published between January 2009 and December 2019, with the search updated on MEDLINE to January 2021. Data on the most common patient reasons for encounter (RFEs) and provider diagnoses were collected. 17 of 22,279 screened articles were included. Most studies used unvalidated diagnostic classification systems or presented provider diagnosis data grouped by organ system, rather than presenting specific diagnoses. No studies included data from low-income countries. Only four studies (from Brazil, India, Nigeria and South Africa) using the ICPC-2 classification system contained RFE and provider diagnosis data and could be pooled. The top five RFEs from the four studies were headache, fever, back or low back symptom, cough and pain general/multiple sites. The top five diagnoses were uncomplicated hypertension, upper respiratory tract infection, type 2 diabetes, malaria and health maintenance/prevention. No psychological symptoms were among the top 10 pooled RFEs. There was more variation in top diagnoses between studies than top RFEs, showing the importance of creating location-specific lists of essential diagnostics for primary care. Future studies should aim to sample primary care facilities from across their country of study and use ICPC-3 to report both patient RFEs and provider diagnoses.