Humanitarian Geoanalytics

Scott A. Goldberg, Rebecca E. Cash, Gregory Peters, Scott G.Weiner, P. Gregg Greenough, and Raghu Seethala. 2021. “The impact of COVID‐19 on statewide EMS use for cardiac emergencies and stroke in Massachusetts.” JACEP Open. Publisher's VersionAbstract


To evaluate the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) on emergency medical services (EMS) use for time‐sensitive medical conditions. We examined EMS use for cardiac arrest, stroke, and other cardiac emergencies across Massachusetts during the peak of the COVID‐19 pandemic, evaluating their relationship to statewide COVID‐19 incidence and a statewide emergency declaration.


A retrospective analysis of all EMS calls between February 15 and May 15, 2020 and the same time period for 2019. EMS call volumes were compared before and after March 10, the date of a statewide emergency declaration.


A total of 408,758 calls were analyzed, of which 49,405 (12.1%) represented stroke, cardiac arrest, or other cardiac emergencies. Average call volume before March 10 was similar in both years but decreased significantly after March 10, 2020 by 18.7% (P < 0.001). Compared to 2019, there were 35.6% fewer calls for cardiac emergencies after March 10, 2020 (153.6 vs 238.4 calls/day, P < 0.001) and 12.3% fewer calls for stroke (40.0 vs 45.6 calls/day, P = 0.04). Calls for cardiac arrest increased 18.2% (28.6 vs 24.2 calls/day, P < 0.001). Calls for respiratory concerns also increased (208.8 vs 199.7 calls/day, P < 0.001). There was no significant association between statewide incidence of COVID‐19 and EMS call volume.


EMS use for certain time‐sensitive conditions decreased after a statewide emergency declaration, irrespective of actual COVID‐19 incidence, suggesting the decrease was related to perception instead of actual case counts. These findings have implications for public health messaging. Measures must be taken to clearly inform the public that immediate emergency care for time‐sensitive conditions remains imperative.

MPH P. Gregg Greenough, MD, Ravi Goyal, Ruwan Ratnayake, Fatma Rawashdeh, Raeda AbuAlRub, Nahla Al-Ali, Muhammad Fawad, and Mohammad Bani Han. 10/14/2020. “Access to Care and Prevalence of Hypertension and Diabetes Among Syrian Refugees in Northern Jordan.” JAMA Network Open. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Importance  The management of noncommunicable diseases in humanitarian crises has been slow to progress from episodic care. Understanding disease burden and access to care among crisis-affected populations can inform more comprehensive management.

Objective  To estimate the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes with biological measures and to evaluate access to care among Syrian refugees in northern Jordan.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This cross-sectional study was undertaken from March 25 to April 26, 2019, in the districts of Ramtha and Mafraq, Jordan. Seventy clusters of 15 households were randomly sampled, and chain referral was used to sample Syrian households, representative of 59 617 Syrian refugees. Adults were screened and interviewed about their access to care. Data analysis was performed from May to September 2019.

Exposures  Primary care delivered through a humanitarian organization since 2012.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The main outcomes were self-reported prevalence of hypertension and diabetes among adults aged 18 years or older and biologically based prevalence among adults aged 30 years or older. The secondary outcome was access to care during the past month among adults aged 18 years or older with a diagnosis of hypertension or diabetes.

Results  In 1022 randomly sampled households, 2798 adults aged 18 years or older, including 275 with self-reported diagnoses (mean [SD] age, 56.5 [13.2] years; 174 women [63.3%]), and 915 adults aged 30 years or older (608 women [66.5%]; mean [SD] age, 46.0 [12.8] years) were screened for diabetes and hypertension. Among adults aged 18 years or older, the self-reported prevalence was 17.2% (95% CI, 15.9%-18.6%) for hypertension, 9.8% (95% CI, 8.6%-11.1%) for diabetes, and 7.3% (95% CI, 6.3%-8.5%) for both conditions. Among adults aged 30 years or older, the biologically based prevalence was 39.5% (95% CI, 36.4%-42.6%) for hypertension, 19.3% (95% CI, 16.7%-22.1%) for diabetes, and 13.5% (95% CI, 11.4%-15.9%) for both conditions. Adjusted for age and sex, prevalence for all conditions increased with age, and women had a higher prevalence of diabetes than men (adjusted prevalence ratio, 1.3%; 95% CI, 1.0%-1.7%), although the difference was not significant. Complications (57.4%; 95% CI, 51.5%-63.1%) and obese or overweight status (82.8%; 95% CI, 79.7%-85.5%) were highly prevalent. Among adults aged 30 years or older with known diagnoses, 94.1% (95% CI, 90.9%-96.2%) currently took medication. Among adults aged 18 years or older with known diagnoses, 26.8% (95% CI, 21.3%-33.1%) missed a medication dose in the past week, and 49.1% (95% CI, 43.3%-54.9%) sought care in the last month.

Conclusions and Relevance  During this protracted crisis, obtaining care for noncommunicable diseases was feasible, as demonstrated by biologically based prevalence that was only moderately higher than self-reported prevalence. The high prevalence of complications and obese or overweight status, however, suggest inadequate management. Programs should focus on reinforcing adherence and secondary prevention to minimize severe morbidity.