Analysis of the social impact of lockdowns in Africa

19 July 2020

As part of TIBA (the NIHR Global Health Research Unit Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa at the University of Edinburgh), Geoff Banda and Vera Florida Mugittu have contributed to a new report on the social impact of Covid-19 mitigation measures on nine African countries.

The study examines the public health measures implemented in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe in response to the Covid-19 outbreak from the time it was declared a Public Health Emergency of international concern on the 30th January 2020 to the 18th of May 2020.

The report provides a comparative analysis of the countries’ response to the virus based on the World Health Organization’s Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) guidance and highlights the challenges these countries have faced implementing public health measures such as social distancing in high-density residential areas and handwashing due to unavailable or unreliable access to clean water. The authors also note the increased vulnerability of some sections of the community that depend on informal trading during the enforcement of lockdowns.

Based on the analysis, TIBA makes a series of recommendations on possible adaptations and changes to enhance the efficacy of the mitigation measures. These include strengthening community engagement and communication strategies to mobilize communities, creation of social safety nets to support vulnerable community members, promotion of local PPE production and investment in biomedical research and equipment to make diagnostic test kits for mass testing.

The report underscores the need to keep exploring and developing multidimensional strategies to improve the outcomes of public health measures in Africa.