To determine the magnitude of the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic on the delivery of essential health services at all levels of care in Paraguay.
Descriptive and cross-sectional observational research. Indicators of services of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare monitored in the country were analyzed. To compare the behavior of these indicators over time, data from the first four months (January-April) of 2017-2020 were used. To calculate the impact on each indicator, the same four-month period of 2019 and 2020 was compared, and the percentages of increase or decrease between these years were calculated.
Since 2017, the number of visits has increased for all indicators; however, in 2020 visits related to almost all indicators have decreased to a variable degree. The most affected indicators (more than 30% decrease) were visits for digestive, hemolymphopoietic and ocular conditions. The number of visits related to the indicators control of diabetes mellitus and health control in children under 5 years increased 10.5% and 3.9%, respectively.
Health care related to essential services has been affected by the pandemic with a reduction of visits for non-COVID-19 causes, which should serve as an alert for the health system in order not to lose the ground gained on this front.