Original Research

Opinion and uptake of chloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 during the mandatory lockdown in the sub-Saharan African region

Uchechukwu L. Osuagwu, Obinna Nwaeze, Godwin Ovenseri-Ogbomo, Richard Oloruntoba, Bernadine Ekpenyong, Khathutshelo P. Mashige, Chikasirimobi Timothy, Tanko Ishaya, Raymond Langsi, Deborah Charwe, Emmanuel Kwasi Abu, Miner A. Chundung, Kingsley E. Agho
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 13, No 1 | a2795 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v13i1.2795 | © 2021 Uchechukwu L. Osuagwu, Obinna Nwaeze, Godwin Ovenseri-Ogbomo, Richard Oloruntoba, Bernadine Ekpenyong, Khathutshelo P. Mashige, Chikasirimobi Timothy, Tanko Ishaya, Raymond Langsi, Deborah Charwe, Emmanuel Kwasi Abu, Miner A. Chundung, Kingsley E. Agho | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 October 2020 | Published: 15 June 2021

About the author(s)

Uchechukwu L. Osuagwu, School of Medicine, Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Translational Research Unit, Western Sydney University, Campbelltown, New South Wales, Australia; and, African Eye and Public Health Research Initiative, African Vision Research Institute, Discipline of Optometry, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Obinna Nwaeze, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Science, NHS, Leeds, United Kingdom
Godwin Ovenseri-Ogbomo, Department of Optometry, College of Applied Medical Sciences, Qassim University, Saudi Arabia; and, Department of Optometry and Vision Science, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
Richard Oloruntoba, School of Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin Business School, Bentley, Western Australia, Australia
Bernadine Ekpenyong, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Allied Medical Sciences, College of Medical Sciences, University of Calabar, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria; and, African Eye and Public Health Research Initiative, African Vision Research Institute, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Khathutshelo P. Mashige, African Eye and Public Health Research Initiative, African Vision Research Institute, Discipline of Optometry, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Chikasirimobi Timothy, Department of Optometry and Vision Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kakamega, Kenya
Tanko Ishaya, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Jos, Jos, Nigeria
Raymond Langsi, Health Division, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Bamenda, Bambili, Cameroon
Deborah Charwe, Department of Food and Nutrition, Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Emmanuel Kwasi Abu, Department of Optometry and Vision Science, School of Allied Health Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana
Miner A. Chundung, Department of Community Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of Jos, Jos, Nigeria
Kingsley E. Agho, African Eye and Public Health Research Initiative, African Vision Research Institute, Discipline of Optometry, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; and, School of Health Sciences, Western Sydney University, Campbelltown, New South Wales, Australia


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Abstract

Background: As the search for effective treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection continues, the public opinion around the potential use of chloroquine (CQ) in treating COVID-19 remains mixed.

Aim: To examine opinion and uptake of CQ for treating COVID-19 in the sub-Saharan African (SSA) region.

Setting: This study was conducted through an online survey software titled SurveyMonkey.

Methods: Anonymous online survey of 1829 SSA countries was conducted during the lockdown period using Facebook, WhatsApp and authors’ networks. Opinion and uptake of CQ for COVID-19 treatment were assessed using multivariate analyses.

Results: About 14% of respondents believed that CQ could treat COVID-19 and of which, 3.2% took CQ for COVID-19 treatment. Multivariate analyses revealed that respondents from Central (adjusted odds ratios [aOR]: 2.54, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.43, 4.43) and West Africa (aOR: 1.79, 95% CI 1.15, 2.88) had higher odds of believing that CQ could treat COVID-19. Respondents from East Africa reported higher odds for uptake of CQ for COVID-19 than Central, Western and Southern Africans. Knowledge of the disease and compliance with the public health advice were associated with both belief and uptake of CQ for COVID-19 treatment.

Conclusion: Central and West African respondents were more likely to believe in CQ as a treatment for COVID-19 whilst the uptake of the medication during the pandemic was higher amongst East Africans. Future intervention discouraging the unsupervised use of CQ should target respondents from Central, West and East African regions.


Keywords

coronavirus; sub-Saharan Africa; chloroquine hydrochloride; Africa; poisoning

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