IMPACTS OF COVID-19 ON THE DELIVERY OF ANTI-RETROVIRAL THERAPY (ART) SERVICES: A LITERATURE REVIEW OF SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA.
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Background: Like many other low and-middle-income countries, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) faced several impacts with the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic. Disruption of essential services such as ART service provision was among the impacts that most of these countries encountered. Despite the growing need of HIV services, most interventions were not able to effectively deliver its services to people living with HIV/AIDS; hence it is essential to understand which impacts come along with new emerging diseases in line with HIV program implementations. This study reviewed the impacts of COVID-19 on the delivery of Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) services in Sub-Saharan Africa. Identifying such impacts may assist in health system preparedness towards achieving sustainable health programs. Methods: A desk-based review of literature was performed using PubMed, Medline and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) databases. Other online sources such as Google Scholar and organizational reports were also utilized to obtain grey literature. A total of 578 records were initially identified and after screening and selection, 22 article were used for this review. Results: A range of interconnected impacts influencing the delivery of ART services during COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa were identified. In most countries, resource challenges such as low supply of medical tools and drugs, financial cut outs, institutional and health system’s inability to conduct standard healthcare were among some of the impacts on ART services. Such impacts significantly affected the output of HIV services. Conclusion: A global pandemic can severely impact HIV service delivery. The continuity of these services depends on resource and financial availability as well institutional and health system's capacity to meet the needs of those living with HIV. Therefore, identifying the different ways these impacts occur can support program implementors, policy makers and developmental leaders to address them. Governments can benefit from this knowledge when designing contingency plans and strategies to address disruptions of health care service delivery during similar crises.