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1.
S Afr Med J ; 112(4): 279-287, 2022 04 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1857301

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Major causes of under-5 child deaths in South Africa (SA) are well recognised, and child mortality rates are falling. The focus of child health is therefore shifting from survival to disease prevention and thriving, but local data on the non-fatal disease burden are limited. Furthermore, COVID-19 has affected children's health and wellbeing, both directly and indirectly. OBJECTIVES: To describe the pattern of disease on admission of children at different levels of care, and assess whether this has been affected by COVID-19. METHODS: Retrospective reviews of children's admission and discharge registers were conducted for all general hospitals in iLembe and uMgungundlovu districts in KwaZulu-Natal Province, SA, from January 2018 to September 2020. The Global Burden of Disease framework was adapted to create a data capture sheet with four broad diagnostic categories and 37 specific cause categories. Monthly admission numbers were recorded per cause category, and basic descriptive analysis was completed in Microsoft Excel. RESULTS: Overall, 36 288 admissions were recorded across 18 hospital wards, 32.0% at district, 49.8% at regional and 18.2% at tertiary level. Communicable diseases, perinatal conditions and nutritional deficiencies (CPNs) accounted for 37.4% of admissions, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) for 43.5% and injuries for 17.1%. The distribution of broad diagnostic categories varied across levels of care, with CPNs being more common at district level and NCDs more common at regional and tertiary levels. Unintentional injuries represented the most common cause category (16.6%), ahead of lower respiratory tract infections (16.1%), neurological conditions (13.6%) and diarrhoeal disease (8.4%). The start of the local COVID-19 outbreak coincided with a 43.1% decline in the mean number of monthly admissions. Admissions due to neonatal conditions and intentional injuries remained constant during the COVID-19 outbreak, while those due to other disease groups (particularly respiratory infections) declined. CONCLUSIONS: Our study confirms previous concerns around a high burden of childhood injuries in our context. Continued efforts are needed to prevent and treat traditional neonatal and childhood illnesses. Concurrently, the management of NCDs should be prioritised, and evidence-based strategies are sorely needed to address the high injury burden in SA.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Noncommunicable Diseases , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Disease Outbreaks , Female , Hospitals , Humans , Infant, Newborn , Noncommunicable Diseases/epidemiology , Pregnancy , Retrospective Studies , South Africa/epidemiology
2.
South African Medical Journal ; 112(4):279-287, 2022.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1798764

ABSTRACT

Background. Major causes of under-5 child deaths in South Africa (SA) are well recognised, and child mortality rates are falling. The focus of child health is therefore shifting from survival to disease prevention and thriving, but local data on the non-fatal disease burden are limited. Furthermore, COVID-19 has affected children's health and wellbeing, both directly and indirectly. Objectives. To describe the pattern of disease on admission of children at different levels of care, and assess whether this has been affected by COVID-19. Methods. Retrospective reviews of children's admission and discharge registers were conducted for all general hospitals in iLembe and uMgungundlovu districts in KwaZulu-Natal Province, SA, from January 2018 to September 2020. The Global Burden of Disease framework was adapted to create a data capture sheet with four broad diagnostic categories and 37 specific cause categories. Monthly admission numbers were recorded per cause category, and basic descriptive analysis was completed in Microsoft Excel. Results. Overall, 36 288 admissions were recorded across 18 hospital wards, 32.0% at district, 49.8% at regional and 18.2% at tertiary level. Communicable diseases, perinatal conditions and nutritional deficiencies (CPNs) accounted for 37.4% of admissions, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) for 43.5% and injuries for 17.1%. The distribution of broad diagnostic categories varied across levels of care, with CPNs being more common at district level and NCDs more common at regional and tertiary levels. Unintentional injuries represented the most common cause category (16.6%), ahead of lower respiratory tract infections (16.1%), neurological conditions (13.6%) and diarrhoeal disease (8.4%). The start of the local COVID-19 outbreak coincided with a 43.1% decline in the mean number of monthly admissions. Admissions due to neonatal conditions and intentional injuries remained constant during the COVID-19 outbreak, while those due to other disease groups (particularly respiratory infections) declined. Conclusions. Our study confirms previous concerns around a high burden of childhood injuries in our context. Continued efforts are needed to prevent and treat traditional neonatal and childhood illnesses. Concurrently, the management of NCDs should be prioritised, and evidence-based strategies are sorely needed to address the high injury burden in SA.

3.
Samj South African Medical Journal ; 112(3):240-244, 2022.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-1761104

ABSTRACT

Y Background. South Africa (SA) has embarked on a process to implement universal health coverage (UHC) funded by National Health Insurance (NHI). The 2019 NHI Bill proposes creation of a health technology assessment (HTA) body to inform decisions about which interventions NHI funds will cover under UHC. In practice, HTA often relies mainly on economic evaluations of cost-effectiveness and budget impact, with less attention to the systematic, specific consideration of important social, organisational and ethical impacts of the health technology in question. In this context, the South African Values and Ethics for Universal Health Coverage (SAVE-UHC) research project recognised an opportunity to help shape the health priority-setting process by providing a way to take account of multiple, ethically relevant considerations that reflect SA values. The SAVE-UHC Research Team developed and tested an SA-specific Ethics Framework for HTA assessment and analysis. Objectives. To develop and test an Ethics Framework for use in the SA context for health priority-setting. Methods. The Framework was developed iteratively by the authors and a multidisciplinary panel (18 participants) over a period of 18 months, using the principles outlined in the 2015 NHI White Paper as a starting point. The provisional Ethics Framework was then tested with multi-stakeholder simulated appraisal committees (SACs) in three provinces. The membership of each SAC roughly reflected the composition of a potential SA HTA committee. The deliberations and dedicated focus group discussions after each SAC meeting were recorded, analysed and used to refine the Framework, which was presented to the Working Group for review, comment and final approval. Results. This article describes the 12 domains of the Framework. The first four (Burden of the Health Condition, Expected Health Benefits and Harms, Cost-Effectiveness Analysis, and Budget Impact) are commonly used in HTA assessments, and a further eight cover the other ethical domains. These are Equity, Respect and Dignity, Impacts on Personal Financial Situation, Forming and Maintaining Important Personal Relationships, Ease of Suffering, Impact on Safety and Security, Solidarity and Social Cohesion, and Systems Factors and Constraints. In each domain are questions and prompts to enable use of the Framework by both analysts and assessors. Issues that arose, such as weighting of the domains and the availability of SA evidence, were discussed by the SACs. Conclusions. The Ethics Framework is intended for use in priority-setting within an HTA process. The Framework was well accepted by a diverse group of stakeholders. The final version will be a useful tool not only for HTA and other priority-setting processes in SA, but also for future efforts to create HTA methods in SA and elsewhere.

4.
S Afr Med J ; 111(2): 100-105, 2021 01 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1168064

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many hospitals severely limiting or denying parents access to their hospitalised children. This article provides guidance for hospital managers, healthcare staff, district-level managers and provincial managers on parental access to hospitalised children during a pandemic such as COVID-19. It: (i) summarises legal and ethical issues around parental visitation rights; (ii) highlights four guiding principles; (iii) provides 10 practical recommendations to facilitate safe parental access to hospitalised children; (iv) highlights additional considerations if the mother is COVID-19-positive; and (v) provides considerations for fathers. In summary, it is a child's right to have access to his or her parents during hospitalisation, and parents should have access to their hospitalised children; during an infectious disease pandemic such as COVID-19, there is a responsibility to ensure that parental visitation is implemented in a reasonable and safe manner. Separation should only occur in exceptional circumstances, e.g. if adequate in-hospital facilities do not exist to jointly accommodate the parent/caregiver and the newborn/infant/child. Both parents should be allowed access to hospitalised children, under strict infection prevention and control (IPC) measures and with implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), including handwashing/sanitisation, face masks and physical distancing. Newborns/infants and their parents/caregivers have a reasonably high likelihood of having similar COVID-19 status, and should be managed as a dyad rather than as individuals. Every hospital should provide lodger/boarder facilities for mothers who are COVID-19-positive, COVID-19-negative or persons under investigation (PUI), separately, with stringent IPC measures and NPIs. If facilities are limited, breastfeeding mothers should be prioritised, in the following order: (i) COVID-19-negative; (ii) COVID-19 PUI; and (iii) COVID-19-positive. Breastfeeding, or breastmilk feeding, should be promoted, supported and protected, and skin-to-skin care of newborns with the mother/caregiver (with IPC measures) should be discussed and practised as far as possible. Surgical masks should be provided to all parents/caregivers and replaced daily throughout the hospital stay. Parents should be referred to social services and local community resources to ensure that multidisciplinary support is provided. Hospitals should develop individual-level policies and share these with staff and parents. Additionally, hospitals should ideally track the effect of parental visitation rights on hospital-based COVID-19 outbreaks, the mental health of hospitalised children, and their rate of recovery.


Subject(s)
Child Health/standards , Child, Hospitalized/statistics & numerical data , Hospitals/standards , Infection Control/standards , Patient Isolation/standards , Visitors to Patients/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19 , Child , Female , Humans , Infant, Newborn , South Africa
5.
S Afr Med J ; 111(2): 114-119, 2020 12 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1129818

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Current evidence indicates that children are relatively spared from direct COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality, but that the indirect effects of the pandemic pose significant risks to their health and wellbeing. OBJECTIVES: To assess the impact of the local COVID-19 outbreak on routine child health services. METHODS: The District Health Information System data set for KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) provincial health services was accessed, and monthly child health-related data were extracted for the period January 2018 - June 2020. Chronological and geographical variations in sentinel indicators for service access, service delivery and the wellbeing of children were assessed. RESULTS: During April - June 2020, following the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in KZN, significant declines were seen for clinic attendance (36%; p=0.001) and hospital admissions (50%; p=0.005) of children aged <5 years, with a modest recovery in clinic attendance only. Among service delivery indicators, immunisation coverage recovered most rapidly, with vitamin A supplementation, deworming and food supplementation remaining low. Changes were less pronounced for in- and out-of-hospital births and uptake rates of infant polymerase chain reaction testing for HIV at birth, albeit with wide interdistrict variations, indicating inequalities in access to and provision of maternal and neonatal care. A temporary 47% increase in neonatal facility deaths was reported in May 2020 that could potentially be attributed to COVID-19-related disruption and diversion of health resources. CONCLUSIONS: Multiple indicators demonstrated disruption in service access, service delivery and child wellbeing. Further studies are needed to establish the intermediate- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on child health, as well as strategies to mitigate these.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Child Health Services/organization & administration , Health Services Accessibility , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Adolescent , Child , Child, Preschool , Female , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Male , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , South Africa/epidemiology
6.
S Afr Med J ; 0(0): 13185, 2020 12 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-984411

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Current evidence indicates that children are relatively spared from direct COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality, but that the indirect effects of the pandemic pose significant risks to their health and wellbeing. OBJECTIVES: To assess the impact of the local COVID-19 outbreak on routine child health services. METHODS: The District Health Information System data set for KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) provincial health services was accessed, and monthly child health-related data were extracted for the period January 2018 - June 2020. Chronological and geographical variations in sentinel indicators for service access, service delivery and the wellbeing of children were assessed. RESULTS: During April - June 2020, following the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in KZN, significant declines were seen for clinic attendance (36%; p=0.001) and hospital admissions (50%; p=0.005) of children aged <5 years, with a modest recovery in clinic attendance only. Among service delivery indicators, immunisation coverage recovered most rapidly, with vitamin A supplementation, deworming and food supplementation remaining low. Changes were less pronounced for in- and out-of-hospital births and uptake rates of infant polymerase chain reaction testing for HIV at birth, albeit with wide interdistrict variations, indicating inequalities in access to and provision of maternal and neonatal care. A temporary 47% increase in neonatal facility deaths was reported in May 2020 that could potentially be attributed to COVID-19-related disruption and diversion of health resources. CONCLUSIONS: Multiple indicators demonstrated disruption in service access, service delivery and child wellbeing. Further studies are needed to establish the intermediate- and long-term impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on child health, as well as strategies to mitigate these.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Child Health Services , Health Services Accessibility , Infection Control , Perinatal Care , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Child Health/standards , Child Health Services/organization & administration , Child Health Services/statistics & numerical data , Child, Preschool , Health Resources/standards , Health Services Accessibility/statistics & numerical data , Health Services Accessibility/trends , Health Services Needs and Demand , Humans , Infant , Infant Mortality , Infant, Newborn , Infection Control/methods , Infection Control/organization & administration , Perinatal Care/standards , Perinatal Care/statistics & numerical data , SARS-CoV-2 , South Africa/epidemiology
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