GCRF_NF391 Maximising benefit and minimising the harm of COVID-19 control measures on child and women's health in four Sub-Saharan African countries

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular


COVID-19 is challenging everywhere because many of the measures to control the disease also produce negative effects. This is especially the case in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where health systems are relatively under-resourced, where poverty rates are high, and where countries have to simultaneously deal with other health challenges such as those presented by HIV/AIDS, TB, diarrhoeal disease, malaria and malnutrition.

Previous research conducted by ourselves has shown strong anecdotal evidence of health systems disruption and other unintended harms. Concerns include the effects of school closures, reduced household food income, worsening food security, reduced vaccination coverage rates and the effects of certain COVID-19 control measures having a worse impact on the health of girls and women. We also found countries adopting different approaches and actions to control COVID-19.

Building upon these findings, we intend to: 1) describe and evaluate the impact of COVID-19 and COVID-19 control measures on health systems functioning, child health and women's health in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe; 2) identify how COVID-19 control measures can be improved; and 3) enable the sharing of lessons and information across countries.

The main deliverables will be:
- a set of country case study reports incorporating new knowledge about how COVID-19 control measures impact on the health of children and girls/women, with recommendations for how children and women may be better protected;
- a report describing the different approaches and strategies taken to control COVID-19 across the four countries, with recommendations on how research and evidence can be produced and harnessed to strengthen future policy making and implementation

These reports will form the basis for shorter policy briefs, lay summaries and peer-reviewed publications.

The project will also deliver:
- a series of in-country stakeholder discussions and meetings and establish opportunities for cross-country dialogue;
- a collaborative research network that will set the foundations for future research studies.

The activities and outputs proposed here will complement the efforts of government agencies and non-governmental organisations (including UNICEF, Save the Children and UNFPA) working to promote and protect child and women's health. And it will identify critical knowledge gaps and priorities for further research, including in-depth epidemiological studies, intervention studies and in-depth social science inquiries.


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