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Khan, Mishal S.; Rego, Sonia; Rajal, Joaquin Benitez; Bond, Virginia; Fatima, Razia Kaneez; Isani, Afshan Khurshid; Sutherland, Jayne and Kranzer, Katharina (2021): Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on tuberculosis and HIV services: A cross-sectional survey of 669 health professionals in 64 low and middle-income countries.
In: PLOS One 16(2), e0244936

Full text not available from 'Open Access LMU'.


Objective The experiences of frontline healthcare professionals are essential in identifying strategies to mitigate the disruption to healthcare services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study of TB and HIV professionals in low and middle-income countries (LMIC). Between May 12 and August 6, 2020, we collected qualitative and quantitative data using an online survey in 11 languages. We used descriptive statistics and thematic analysis to analyse responses. Findings 669 respondents from 64 countries completed the survey. Over 40% stated that it was either impossible or much harder for TB and HIV patients to reach healthcare facilities since COVID-19. The most common barriers reported to affect patients were: fear of getting infected with SARS-CoV-2, transport disruptions and movement restrictions. 37% and 28% of responses about TB and HIV stated that healthcare provider access to facilities was also severely impacted. Strategies to address reduced transport needs and costs-including proactive coordination between the health and transport sector and cards that facilitate lower cost or easier travel-were presented in qualitative responses. Access to non-medical support for patients, such as food supplementation or counselling, was severely disrupted according to 36% and 31% of HIV and TB respondents respectively;qualitative data suggested that the need for such services was exacerbated. Conclusion Patients and healthcare providers across numerous LMIC faced substantial challenges in accessing healthcare facilities, and non-medical support for patients was particularly impacted. Synthesising recommendations of frontline professionals should be prioritised for informing policymakers and healthcare service delivery organisations.

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