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Estimating malaria incidence from routine health facility-based surveillance data in Uganda.

Abstract

A total of 48,898 outpatient visits were recorded across the two sites over the study period. HMIS incidence correlated with cohort incidence over time at both study sites (correlation in Kihihi = 0.64, p < 0.001; correlation in Nagongera = 0.34, p = 0.045). HMIS incidence measures with denominators unweighted by probability of attendance underestimated cohort incidence aggregated over the 3 years in Kihihi (0.5 cases per person-year (PPY) vs 1.7 cases PPY) and Nagongera (0.3 cases PPY vs 3.0 cases PPY). HMIS incidence measures with denominators weighted by probability of attendance were closer to cohort incidence, but remained underestimates (1.1 cases PPY in Kihihi and 1.4 cases PPY in Nagongera).

Outpatient data from two public health facilities in Uganda (Kihihi and Nagongera) over a 3-year period (2011-2014) were used to model the relationship between travel time from patient village of residence (available for each individual) to the facility and the relative probability of attendance using Poisson generalized additive models. Outputs from the model were used to generate a weighted population denominator for each health facility and estimate malaria incidence. Among children aged 6 months to 11 years, monthly HMIS-derived incidence estimates, with and without population denominators weighted by probability of attendance, were compared with gold standard measures of malaria incidence measured in prospective cohorts.

Accurate measures of malaria incidence are essential to track progress and target high-risk populations. While health management information system (HMIS) data provide counts of malaria cases, quantifying the denominator for incidence using these data is challenging because catchment areas and care-seeking behaviours are not well defined. This study's aim was to estimate malaria incidence using HMIS data by adjusting the population denominator accounting for travel time to the health facility.

Although malaria incidence measured using HMIS underestimated incidence measured in cohorts, even when adjusting for probability of attendance, HMIS surveillance data are a promising and scalable source for tracking relative changes in malaria incidence over time, particularly when the population denominator can be estimated by incorporating information on village of residence.

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