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COVID-19: Perspective
Maternal mental health in Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic: a neglected global health issue
Kobi V. Ajayi, Elizabeth Wachira, Obasanjo Afolabi Bolarinwa, Beulah D. Suleman
Epidemiol Health. 2021;43:e2021078.   Published online October 6, 2021
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AbstractAbstract AbstractSummary PDF
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has profoundly impacted mental health and well-being around the globe. Public health measures to control the virus’s rapid spread, such as physical distancing, social isolation, lockdown, restricted movements, and quarantine, caused fear and panic in the general population. Although pandemic-related stressors have been reported, changes that occur during the perinatal period compounded by those made to obstetric care guidelines may put pregnant and postpartum mothers at an increased risk of poor mental health. While an abundance of research has examined the impact of the pandemic on maternal mental health in developed nations such as Europe and America, very few studies have done so in the African continent. Considering that Africa has prominently weak health systems, poor mental health policies and infrastructure, high poverty rates, and unreliable maternal care, the pandemic is expected to have dire consequences on maternal mental health in the region. As such, multipronged mental health interventions and strategies that consider the heterogeneity within and between African regions must be developed. Doing so will close existing and widening global health disparities to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Key Message
Despite the adverse psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on maternal mental health globally, little is known about its effect in Africa. As of the time of this study, only four research studies have been conducted in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Ghana, investigating the psychological sequelae of the pandemic among pregnant and postpartum women in Africa. This study calls for urgent multipronged maternal mental health interventions and psychosocial support that consider the heterogeneity within and between African regions.


Citations to this article as recorded by  
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  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Its Associated Factors Among Pregnant Women During COVID-19 at Public Health Facilities of East Gojjam Zone, 2020: A Multi-Center Cross-Sectional Study
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