Early effects of COVID-19 on maternal and child health service disruption in Mozambique

Orvalho Augusto, Timothy Roberton, Quinhas Fernandes, Sérgio Chicumbe, Ivan Manhiça, Stélio Tembe, Bradley h. Wagenaar, Laura Anselmi, Jon Wakefield, Kenneth Sherr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


After the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, more than 184 million cases and 4 million deaths had been recorded worldwide by July 2021. These are likely to be underestimates and do not distinguish between direct and indirect deaths resulting from disruptions in health care services. The purpose of our research was to assess the early impact of COVID-19 in 2020 and early 2021 on maternal and child healthcare service delivery at the district level in Mozambique using routine health information system data, and estimate
associated excess maternal and child deaths.

Using data from Mozambique’s routine health information system (SISMA, Sistema de Informação em Saúde para Monitoria e Avaliação), we conducted a time-series analysis to assess changes in nine selected indicators representing the continuum of maternal and child health care service provision in 159 districts in Mozambique. The dataset was extracted as counts of services provided from January 2017 to March 2021. Descriptive statistics were used for district
comparisons, and district-specific time-series plots were produced. We used absolute differences or ratios for comparisons between observed data and modeled predictions as a measure of the magnitude of loss in service provision. Mortality estimates were performed using the Lives Saved Tool (LiST).

All maternal and child health care service indicators that we assessed demonstrated service delivery disruptions (below 10% of the expected counts), with the number of new users of family planing and malaria treatment with Coartem (number of children under five treated) experiencing the largest disruptions. Immediate losses were observed in April 2020 for all indicators, with the exception of treatment of malaria with Coartem. The number of excess deaths estimated in 2020 due to loss of health service delivery were 11,337 (12.8%) children under five, 5,705 (11.3%) neonates, and 387 (7.6%) mothers.

Findings from our study support existing research showing the negative impact of COVID-19 on maternal and child health services utilisation in sub-Saharan Africa. This study offers subnational and granular estimates of service loss that can be useful for health system recovery planning. To our knowledge, it is the first study on the early impacts of COVID-19 on maternal and child health care service utilisation conducted in an African Portuguese-speaking country.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Maternal-Child Health Services
  • Mozambique
  • Interrupted Time Series Analysis
  • LMIC
  • Portuguese-speaking African countries


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