Health and Socio-Economic Impacts of Physical Distancing for Covid-19 in Africa (May 2020)

This review makes recommendations on adapting classic physical distancing measures to the contextual realities in Africa and on mitigating potential negative impacts
Abstract
This briefing paper was commissioned by the East Africa Research Hub in collaboration with DFID’s Research and Evidence Department’s Science Cell, in partnership with the African Academy of Sciences. This is a follow up to their briefing paper on the risks of physical distancing measures in LMICs.
Physical distancing measures are important to reduce COVID-19 transmission. However, when stringently applied, they can result in negative health and socio-economic impacts. This report draws on a rapid review of available literature, case studies from across Africa and expert knowledge to make recommendations on adapting classic physical distancing measures to the contextual realities in Africa and on mitigating potential negative impacts.
In considering these recommendations, governments will need to take into account feasibility of implementation and associated risks. Key messages include:
• Implementing adaptations of physical distancing measures such as staggered geographical introduction of lockdown measures; shielding high-risk population groups; implementing curfews and partial lockdowns; risk-based movement restrictions and; instituting guidelines for safe public transport and trade (markets) operations (face masks, hand hygiene and capacity & spatial proximity requirements).
• Leveraging on community structures and networks to localise physical distancing measures, communicate risk and facilitate community-driven approaches to cope with secondary effects of COVID-19 control measures.
• Engaging with vulnerable populations to co-produce sensitive response measures e.g. dissemination of disability-inclusive COVID-19 information
• Setting up mechanisms to regularly monitor the multi-dimensional impact of physical distancing restrictions to inform timely responses
The full report and the policy brief both outline specific recommendations for mitigating health, economic, food security and education sector impacts and considerations for populations living in informal settlements and forced displacements.
Citation
Edwine Barasa et al (2020) Health and Socio-Economic Impacts of Physical Distancing for Covid-19 in Africa. KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme and African Academy of Sciences

Source: Department for International Development

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