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Epidemiol Health > Volume 43; 2021 > Article
Epidemiology and Health 2021;43: e2021078-0.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2021078    Published online Oct 6, 2021.
Maternal mental health in Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic: a neglected global health issue
Kobi V. Ajayi1,2,3  , Elizabeth Wachira4  , Obasanjo Afolabi Bolarinwa5,6  , Beulah D. Suleman1 
1Education, Direction, Empowerment, and Nurturing (EDEN) Foundation, Abuja, Nigeria
2Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA
3Laboratory of Community Systems and Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA
4Department of Health and Human Performance, Texas A&M University, Commerce, TX, USA
5Department of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
6Obaxlove Consult, Lagos, Nigeria
Correspondence  Kobi V. Ajayi ,Email: eden.helpline@gmail.com
Received: Jun 11, 2021  Accepted after revision: Oct 6, 2021
Abstract
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.
Keywords: Coronavirus, Postpartum period, Pregnancy, Mental health, Africa


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