Recovering from COVID lockdowns: Routine public sector PHC services in South Africa, 2019 - 2021

  • Y Pillay
  • H Museriri
  • P Barron
  • T Zondi


Background. In a previous article on the impact of COVID-19, the authors compared access to routine health services between 2019 and 2020. While differential by province, a number of services provided, as reflected in the District Health Information System (DHIS), were significantly affected by the pandemic. In this article we explore the extent to which the third and fourth waves affected routine services.
Objectives. To assess the extent to which waves 3 and 4 of the COVID-19 pandemic affected routine health services in South Africa, and whether there was any recovery in 2021.
Methods. Data routinely collected via the DHIS in 2019, 2020 and 2021 were analysed to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and extent of recovery.
Results. While there was recovery in some indicators, such as number of children immunised and HIV tests, in many other areas, including primary healthcare visits, the 2019 numbers have yet to be reached – suggesting a slow recovery and continuing impact of the pandemic.
Conclusions. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect routine health services in 2021 in a number of areas. There are signs of recovery to 2019 levels in some of the health indicators. However, the impact indicators of maternal and neonatal mortality continued to worsen in 2021, and if interventions are not urgently implemented, the country is unlikely to meet the Sustainable Development Goals targets. 

In Practice

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-5135
print ISSN: 0256-9574