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Counting indirect crisis-related deaths in the context of a low-resilience health system: the case of maternal and neonatal health during the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone

Sochas, Laura and Channon, Andrew Amos and Nam, Sarah (2017) Counting indirect crisis-related deaths in the context of a low-resilience health system: the case of maternal and neonatal health during the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. Health Policy and Planning. ISSN 0268-1080 (In Press)

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Identification Number: 10.1093/heapol/czx108

Abstract

While the number of direct Ebola-related deaths from the 2013-16 West African Ebola outbreak has been quantified, the number of indirect deaths, resulting from decreased utilisation of routine health services, remains unknown. Such information is a key ingredient of health system resilience, essential to adequate allocation of resources to both “crisis response activities” and “core functions”. Taking stock of indirect deaths may also help the concept of health system resilience achieve political traction over the traditional approach of disease-specific surveillance. This study responds to these imperatives by quantifying the extent of the drop in utilisation of essential reproductive, maternal and neonatal health services in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak by using interrupted time-series regression to analyse HMIS data. Using the Lives Saved Tool, we then model the implication of this decrease in utilisation in terms of excess maternal and neonatal deaths, as well as stillbirths. We find that antenatal care coverage suffered from the largest decrease in coverage as a result of the Ebola epidemic, with an estimated 22 percentage point decrease in population coverage compared to the most conservative counterfactual scenario. Use of family planning, facility delivery and post-natal care services also decreased but to a lesser extent (-6, -8 and -13 p.p. respectively). This decrease in utilisation of life-saving health services translates to 3,600 additional maternal, neonatal and stillbirth deaths in the year 2014-15 under the most conservative scenario. In other words, we estimate that the indirect mortality effects of a crisis in the context of a health system lacking resilience may be as important as the direct mortality effects of the crisis itself.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://academic.oup.com/heapol
Additional Information: © 2017 Oxford University Press
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2017 14:34
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2017 09:05
Projects: PhD Studentship
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, United Nations Population Fund
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/84134

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