Knockdown and recovery of malaria diagnosis and treatment in Liberia during and after the 2014 Ebola outbreak
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JournalPublic Health Action
AbstractSetting: The malaria-endemic country of Liberia, before, during and after the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Objective: To describe the consequences of the Ebola outbreak on Liberia's National Malaria Programme and its post-Ebola recovery. Design: A retrospective cross-sectional study using routine countrywide programme data. Results: Malaria caseloads decreased by 47% during the Ebola outbreak and by 11% after, compared to the pre-Ebola period. In those counties most affected by Ebola, a caseload reduction of >20% was sustained for 12 consecutive months, while this lasted for only 4 consecutive months in the counties least affected by Ebola. Linear regression of monthly proportions of confirmed malaria cases-as a proxy indicator of programme performance-over the pre- and post-Ebola periods indicated that the malaria programme could require 26 months after the end of the acute phase of the Ebola outbreak to recover to pre-Ebola levels. Conclusions: The differential persistence of reduced caseloads in the least- and most-affected counties, all of which experienced similar emergency measures, suggest that factors other than Ebola-related security measures played a key role in the programme's reduced performance. Clear guidance on when to abandon the emergency measures after an outbreak may be needed to ensure faster recovery of malaria programme performance.