The Ebola-effect in Guinea 2014-15: Tangled trends of malaria care in children under-five.
- Clinical and Applied Virology
INTRODUCTION: The 2014-15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was disruptive for the general health services in the affected countries. This study assessed the impact of the outbreak on the reported number and management of malaria in children under-five in rural Guinea. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted in nineteen health centres in two rural, malaria-endemic health districts, one at the epicentre of the outbreak (Gueckedou) and one (Koubia) spared by Ebola. Routine surveillance data at health facility level were compared over similar periods of high malaria transmission in both districts before, during and after the outbreak. RESULTS: There were significant declines in the number of visits during the Ebola outbreak (3,700) in Gueckedou compared to before (4,616) and after it (4,195), while this trend remained more stable within the three periods for Koubia. Differences were nonetheless significant in both districts (p<0.001). In 2014, during the peak of the outbreak, the overall number of malaria cases treated exceeded the number of confirmed malaria cases in Gueckedou. There were decreases in antimalarial treatment provision in August and November 2014. In contrast, during 2015 and 2016, the proportion of malaria positive cases and those treated were closely aligned. During the peak of the Ebola outbreak, there was a significant decrease in oral antimalarial drug administration, which corresponded to an increase in injectable antimalarial treatments. Stock-outs in rapid diagnostic tests were evident and prolonged in Gueckedou during the outbreak, while more limited in Koubia. CONCLUSION: The Ebola outbreak of 2014-15 in Guinea had a significant impact on the admission and management of malaria in children under-five. This study identifies potential challenges in the delivery of care for those at highest risk for malaria mortality during an Ebola outbreak and the need to improve preparedness strategies pre-Ebola and health systems recovery post-Ebola.