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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 12  |  Page : 6012-6017

Continuum of care for non-communicable diseases during COVID-19 pandemic in rural India: A mixed methods study

1 George Institute for Global Health, UNSW, New Delhi, India
2 George Institute for Global Health, UNSW, New Delhi; Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India
3 George Institute for Global Health, UNSW, New Delhi; Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India; George Institute for Global Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Oommen John
Senior Research Fellow, The George Institute for Global Health, 311-312, Third Floor, Elegance Tower, Plot No. 8, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi 110025
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_1805_20

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Background: COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in disruption to routine health services delivery as strict lockdowns were implemented in India and health workforce redeployed for COVID-19 focused responses. We assess the perceptions about COVID-19, the impact of the lockdown on access to health services and continuum of care for Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among a cohort of adults in rural India. Methodology: Since 2018, we have been following up a cohort of persons with non-communicable diseases in a high NCD burden region in Srikakulam District of Andhra Pradesh under the STOP CKDu study. We conducted this mixed methods study, administered through a structured telephonic questionnaire and interview to determine the awareness, perceptions and their compliance to ongoing treatment schedules. Results: Overall, 68% of the participants exhibited adequate knowledge of symptoms of COVID-19, while 43% were not aware of the mode of transmission of the virus. In all, 822 (36.1%) participants reported at least one NCD condition. Among them, 115 (14%) missed their follow-up visit, 110 (13.4%) reported facing challenges in medication procurement and 11.6% either developed new complaints or experienced worsening of pre-existing symptoms. A total of 233 (28.5%) used a telemedicine facility and took telephonic advice from (private) physicians. As the access to medicines was restricted due to the lockdown, majority of the respondents were depending on rural medical practitioners (RMPs) for the procurement of medication. Conclusion: Our finding implies the need for the future guidelines on adaptation of telehealth approaches within health systems to maintain the continuum of care, digital health tools to facilitate the patient's appointments including virtual follow-up visits for those with NCDs coupled with regular engagement by frontline healthcare workers at the local levels, evidence informed public health messaging taking into consideration the social and behavioural aspect and uninterrupted essential primary healthcare services.

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