Indirect victims of COVID-19: Effect of closure of the Medical Outpatient services on Non-COVID-19 patients

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West African College Of Physicians


Background: In order to reduce COVID-19 transmission and protect healthcare workers, the outpatient departments (OPDs) in many hospitals worldwide were closed down in the early days of the pandemic. Patients being managed for chronic medical illnesses who subsequently suffered reduced access to healthcare have been described as “the patients left behind”. The study aimed at assessing the impact of the closure of the Medical OPD of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) during the government-declared lockdown between March 23, 2020 and June 8, 2020 on the health and perceived well-being of patients with chronic medical illnesses. Methods: A cross-sectional study of 166 patients with chronic medical illnesses attending the MOPD in UITH. Results: Mean age of participants was 49.5±18.5 years, 82 (49.4%) were male, median duration of attending MOPD was 24months (IQR 12-36). 84 patients(50.6%) perceived a negative affectation of their well-being by the closure of MOPD. Being >50years was associated with a perception of negative affectation of well-being (P=0.02). 130 patients (78.2%) had clinic appointments that fell within the period under review. 61(69.3%) of the 88 patients who had medical complaints during the period could not reach a doctor and this was associated with a perception of negative affectation of their well being. The commonest action they took was to do nothing (27.9%), two (3.3%) resorted to herbal concoctions. 49 (29.9%) felt their complaints were urgent. Conclusions: Our study identifies that patients with chronic medical illness are potential victims of COVID-19 related disruption of healthcare services. Healthcare managers in Nigeria must develop alternatives such as telemedicine that sustain face-to-face medical interaction during eventualities.



COVID-19; closure of the Medical Outpatient services


West African Journal of Medicine 38;11 Abstract ID: 178, Page 92