Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health (East Africa)


Objectives: To develop recommendations for the management of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Method: A task force comprising of 25 rheumatologists from the 5 regions of the continent was formed and operated through a hub-and-spoke model with a central working committee (CWC) and 4 subgroups. The subgroups championed separate scopes of the clinical questions and formulated preliminary statements of recommendations which were processed centrally in the CWC. The CWC and each subgroup met by several virtual meetings, and two rounds of voting were conducted on the drafted statements of recommendations. Votes were online-delivered and recommendations were pruned down according to predefined criteria. Each statement was rated between 1 and 9 with 1-3, 4-6 and 7-9 representing disagreement, uncertainty and agreement, respectively. The levels of agreement on the statements were stratified as low, moderate or high according to the spread of votes. A statement was retired if it had a mean vote below 7 or a 'low' level of agreement.

Results: A total of 126 initial statements of recommendations were drafted, and these were reduced to 22 after the two rounds of voting.

Conclusions: The preliminary statements of recommendations will serve to guide the clinical practice of rheumatology across Africa amidst the changing practices and uncertainties in the current era of COVID-19. It is recognized that further updates to the recommendations will be needed as more evidence emerges. Key Points • AFLAR has developed preliminary recommendations for the management of RMDs in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. • COVID-19 is an unprecedented experience which has brought new concerns regarding the use of some disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and these recommendations seek to provide guidelines to the African rheumatologists. • Hydroxychloroquine shortage has become rampart across Africa as the drug is being used as prophylaxis against COVID-19 and this may necessitate a review of treatment plan for some patients with RMDs. • Breastfeeding should continue for as long as possible if a woman is positive for SARS-CoV-2 as there is currently no evidence that the infection can be transmitted through breast milk.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Clinical Rheumatology

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Rheumatology Commons