Health Promot Perspect. 2021;11(2): 137-147.
doi: 10.34172/hpp.2021.18
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Risk communication and community engagement strategies for COVID-19 in 13 African countries

Yusuff Adebayo Adebisi 1,2,3* ORCID logo, Adrian Rabe 1,4, Don Eliseo Lucero-Prisno III 1,5

1 Global Health Focus, London, United Kingdom
2 African Young Leaders for Global Health, Abuja, Nigeria
3 Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
4 Faculty of Medicine, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
5 Department of Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
*Corresponding Author: Yusuff Adebayo Adebisi, Email: adebisi.adebayo@ ghfocus.org


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak is a major threat facing health systems globally and African countries are not an exception. Stakeholders, governments, and national authorities have mounted responses to contain the pandemic. This study aimed to catalogue the risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) strategies as well as the challenges facing RCCE in 13 African countries.

Methods: We conducted a narrative review of evidence to answer the aim of the study. The search was conducted in March 2021 and evidence published between December 2019 and February 2021 were included. Data reported in this article were obtained from reports, literature in peer-reviewed journals, grey literature and other data sources in 13 African countries. The 13 countries include Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Algeria, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The authors also snowball further data to gather information for this review.

Results: Most of the priority African countries have RCCE strategies to contain the transmission and spread of the coronavirus. Our findings revealed RCCE strategies in the 13 African countries focused on training and capacity building, risk communication systems, internal and partners’ coordination, community engagement, public communication, contending uncertainty, addressing misperceptions and managing misinformation. However, the RCCE response activities were not without challenges, which included distrust in government, cultural, social, and religious resistance, and inertia among others.

Conclusion: With the similar RCCE approaches and interventions seen across the countries, it is clear that countries are learning from each other and from global health organizations to develop COVID-19 RCCE programs. It is important for African countries to address the challenges facing RCCE in order to effectively contain the pandemic and to prepare for future public health emergencies.

Keywords: COVID-19, Risk communication, Community engagement, Responses, Africa

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Submitted: 31 Mar 2021
Accepted: 02 Apr 2021
ePublished: 19 May 2021
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