The use of health facility data to assess the effects of armed conflicts on maternal and child health: experience from the Kivu, DR Congo

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Malembaka, Espoir B.
Altare, Chiara
Bigirinama, Rosine N.
Bisimwa, Ghislain
Banywesize, Robert
Tabbal, Nabil
Boerma, Ties
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Abstract Background In conflict-affected settings, data on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) are often lacking for priority setting and timely decision-making. We aimed to describe the levels and trends in RMNCH indicators within Kivu provinces between 2015 and 2018, by linking conflict data with health facility (HF) data from the District Health Information System 2 (DHIS2). Methods We used data from the DHIS2 for the period 2015–2018, the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey, the 2018 Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey and the Uppsala Conflict Data Program. Health zones were categorised in low, moderate and high conflict intensity level, based on an annual conflict death rate. We additionally defined a monthly conflict death rate and a conflict event-days rate as measures of conflict intensity and insecurity. Outcomes were completion of four antenatal care visits, health facility deliveries, caesarean sections and pentavalent vaccine coverage. We assessed data quality and analyzed coverage and trends in RMNCH indicators graphically, by conflict categories and using HF data aggregated annually. We used a series of fixed-effect regression models to examine the potential dose-response effect of varying conflict intensity and insecurity on RMNCH. Results The overall HF reporting was good, ranging between 83.3 and 93.2% and tending to be lower in health zones with high conflict intensity in 2016 and 2017 before converging in 2018. Despite the increasing number of conflict-affected health zones over time, more in North-Kivu than in South-Kivu, we could not identify any clear pattern of variation in RMNCH coverage both by conflict intensity and insecurity. North-Kivu province had consistently reported better RMNCH indicators than South-Kivu, despite being more affected by conflict. The Kivu as a whole recorded higher coverage than the national level. Coverage of RMNCH services calculated from HF data was consistent with population-based surveys, despite year-to-year fluctuation among health zones and across conflict-intensity categories. Conclusions Although good in general, the HF reporting rate in the Kivu was negatively impacted by conflict intensity especially at the beginning of the DHIS2’s rolling-up. Routine HF data appeared useful for assessing and monitoring trends in RMNCH service coverage, including in areas with high-intensity conflict.
BMC Health Services Research. 2021 Sep 13;21(Suppl 1):195