Things must not fall apart: the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children in sub-Saharan Africa
Folayan, Morenike O.
Michelow, Ian C.
Oladokun, Regina E.
Sam-Agudu, Nadia A.
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Zero to 19 year-old children in sub-Saharan Africa bear a disproportionate proportion of the global burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Significant public health gains have been made in the fight against these diseases, however, factors such as underequipped health systems, disease outbreaks, conflict, and political instability continue to challenge prevention and control. The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV-2) introduces new challenges to public health programs in sub-Saharan Africa. Of particular concern are programs targeting major conditions among children, such as undernutrition, vaccine-preventable pneumonia and diarrhea, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, and sickle cell disease. This article focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on child health in sub-Saharan Africa. We review the epidemiology of major pediatric diseases and, referencing modeling projections, discuss the short- and long-term impact of the pandemic on major disease control. We deliberate on potential complications of SARS-CoV-2 co-infections/comorbidities and identify critical social and ethical issues. Furthermore, we highlight the paucity of COVID-19 data and clinical trials in this region and the lack of child participants in ongoing studies. Lastly, approaches and interventions to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on child health outcomes are discussed.
Link to resourcehttps://doi.org/10.1038/s41390-020-01174-y
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