Health service utilisation during the COVID-19 pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020

A multicountry empirical assessment with a focus on maternal, newborn and child health services

May 25, 2022

There are concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the continuation of essential health services in sub-Saharan Africa. Through the Countdown to 2030 for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health country collaborations, analysts from country and global public health institutions and ministries of health assessed the trends in selected services for maternal, newborn and child health, general service utilisation. This study builds on the Countdown work in sub-Saharan Africa, aiming to expand the knowledge on the disruptions and rebounds in health services utilisation during March to December 2020.

The data suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic caused modest reductions in the utilisation of maternal, newborn and child health services and larger reductions in outpatient consultations and hospitalisations during March to December 2020, with months immediately following the start of the pandemic showing larger reductions. Large variations in service utilisation across subnational areas were observed, with rural areas more affected than urban areas. According to multicountry assessment results, Eastern African countries were more impacted than West African countries.


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