Impact of COVID-19 measures on the health and healthcare of children in East-Africa: Scoping review

Ibrahim El Salih, Festus Muigai Njuguna, Pudjo Hagung Widjajanto, Gertjan Kaspers, Ajay Bailey, Saskia Mostert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is of grave concern. As scientific data is being collected about the nature of COVID-19, government leaders and policy makers are challenged. They might feel pressured to take strong measures to stop virus spread. However, decisions could cause more harm than do good. This study maps all existing literature regarding the impact of COVID-19 containment measures on the health and healthcare of children in East-Africa. Methods: This scoping review follows Population Concept Context guidelines of Arksey and O’Malley and PRISMA 2020 checklist. PubMed, Web of Science, and Embase were searched. All peer-reviewed literature published in English between January 2020 and October 2022 was considered. Initial screening of titles and abstracts was undertaken independently by two reviewers, with a third available in case of doubt. This was followed by full-text screening involving two independent reviewers. Results: In total, 70 studies were included. Eight containment measures affecting children's health and healthcare were distinguished: lockdowns, school closures, physical distancing, travel restrictions, business closures, stay-at-home orders, curfews, quarantine measures with contact tracing. The consensus in the studies is that containment measures could minimise COVID-19 spread but have adverse indirect effects on children in East-Africa. Seven indirect effects were distinguished: economic damage, limited education access, food insecurity, child abuse, limited healthcare access, disrupted health-programs, and mental health challenges. Conclusion: Government leaders and policy makers should take adverse indirect effects of COVID-19 measures into account, particularly in resource-limited regions such as East-Africa, apply a holistic approach, and strengthen socioeconomic and health-systems to protect the most vulnerable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-598
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Health Planning and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 05-2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


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