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Impact of COVID-19 on health service utilisation in sub-Saharan Africa: protocol for a scoping review

Tannor, Elliot Koranteng; Quentin, Wilm; Busse, Reinhard; Opoku, Daniel; Amuasi, John

Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed weaknesses in health systems of many countries, including those in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite comparatively low rates of COVID-19 admissions and deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, the pandemic still had a significant impact by disrupting health service utilisation (HSU). The aim of this scoping review is to synthesise the available evidence on HSU in sub-Saharan Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially focusing on (1) changes in HSU compared with the prepandemic period, (2) changes in HSU among particular patient groups studied and (3) identifying factors determining changes in HSU as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Method and analysis: The scoping review will be guided by the methodological framework for conducting scoping reviews developed by Arskey and O’Malley. We will identify relevant studies on HSU in sub-Saharan Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic using PubMed (MEDLINE), Embase, Scopus and Web of Science databases from 1 December, 2019 to 31 March 2023. We will search grey literature, government and organisational websites for reports and conference proceedings. Included studies will be restricted to those reported in English or French. Two reviewers will independently screen articles at the title and abstract stage for inclusion into full text screening. We will provide a general descriptive overview, tabular summaries and content analysis for the extracted data. Ethics and dissemination: Ethical approval is not required for the conduct of the scoping review. We will disseminate our findings via open access peer-reviewed journals and scientific presentations. Our scoping review findings will help to determine the feasibility of a subsequent systematic review (and meta-analysis) on HSU during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Published in: BMJ Open, 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-074769, British Medical Journal Publishing Group