COVID-19 and Malaria Co-Infection: Do Stigmatization and Self-Medication Matter? A Mathematical Modelling Study for Nigeria
30 Pages Posted: 11 May 2022
Date Written: April 21, 2022
Self-medication and the use of complementary medicine are common among people in the Global South for social, economic, and psychological reasons. Governments in these countries are generally faced with several challenges, including limited resources and poor infrastructure, and patient health literacy. For COVID-19, this is fueled by the rapid spread of rumors in favour of these modalities on social media. Also common in the Global South is the stigmatization of people with COVID-19. Because of the stigma attached to having COVID-19, most COVID-19 patients prefer to test instead for malaria, since malaria (which is very common in the Global South) and COVID-19 share several symptoms leading to misdiagnosis. Thus, to efficiently predict the dynamics of COVID-19 in the Global South, the role of the self-medicated population, the dynamics of malaria, and the impact of stigmatization need to be taken into account. In this paper, we formulate and analyze a mathematical model for the co-dynamics of COVID-19 and malaria in Nigeria. The model is represented by a system of compartmental ODEs that take into account the self-medicated population and the impact of COVID-19 stigmatization. Our findings reveal that COVID-19 stigmatization and misdiagnosis contribute to self-medication, which, in turn, increases the prevalence of COVID-19. The basic and invasion reproduction numbers for these diseases and quantification of model parameters uncertainties and sensitivities are presented.
Funding Information: This research is funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Swedish International Development Coop- eration Agency (SIDA) (Grant No. 109559-001). JDK acknowledges support from NSERC Discovery Grant (Grant No. RGPIN-2022-04559).
Conflict of Interests: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Keywords: Epidemiology, COVID-19, Malaria, Self-medication
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation