HealthDay News — Disruption to services for HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria due to COVID-19 could lead to considerable loss of life in low- and middle-income countries, according to a study published online July 13 in The Lancet Global Health.
Alexandra B. Hogan, Ph.D., from Imperial College London, and colleagues constructed four scenarios for possible responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and estimated the additional impact on health that could be caused in select settings using established transmission models of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.
The researchers found that compared with a time in which there was no COVID-19 pandemic, in high-burden settings, deaths due to HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria could increase by up to 10, 20, and 36 percent, respectively, over five years. The greatest impact on HIV was estimated to arise from interruption to antiretroviral therapy, which could occur during high health system demand. The greatest impact on tuberculosis would be from a reduction in timely diagnosis and treatment of new cases, resulting from prolonged COVID-19 suppression interventions. In terms of malaria, the greatest impact could result from interruption of planned net campaigns. In places with a high burden of malaria and large HIV and tuberculosis epidemics, these disruptions could lead to a loss of life-years over five years of the same magnitude as the direct impact of COVID-19.
“A major focus in the longer term is likely to be improving the resilience of the health system to cope with shock events such as pandemics,” the authors write.