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Epidemiology and Health 2021;e2021078.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2021078    [Accepted] 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  , Beulah D. Suleman1  , Obasanjo Afolabi Bolarinwa5,6 
1Education, Direction, Empowerment, & Nurturing (EDEN) Foundation, Abuja, Nigeria
2Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA, 77843
3Laboratory of Community Systems and Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, US, 77843
4Texas 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, 100009, Nigeria
Correspondence  Kobi V Ajayi ,Email: eden.helpline@gmail.com
Received: Jun 11, 2021  Accepted after revision: Oct 6, 2021
Abstract
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted mental health and wellbeing profoundly 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 increased risk of poor mental health. While an abundance of research exists in developed nations such as Europe and America, examining the impact of the pandemic on maternal mental health, very few studies have investigated the same in the African continent. Considering that poor maternal mental health has lifelong adverse consequences not only on the mothers but on the family and society and given that the African region has prominently weak health systems, high poverty rates, and unreliable maternal care, it is expected that the burden of the pandemic on maternal mental health will be more pronounced in Africa than in other regions. As such, multipronged mental health interventions and strategies that consider the heterogeneity within and between the African region 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 women ; pregnancy; mental health; Africa
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