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Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21266976

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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.

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