Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a major global public health threat of the 21st century and African countries have not been spared of its impact, particularly on healthcare systems, and social and economic activities. The pandemic has led to various government-led interventions and response activities to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, it has been reported that Africa's COVID-19 responses have excluded some vulnerable populations, including people who use drugs. In Africa, drug use is not uncommon and people who inject drugs are highly stigmatised, marginalized, criminalised and, of course, are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. These problems and the COVID-19 pandemic impose additional burdens on this vulnerable group. Interestingly, COVID-19 response interventions by African governments focus primarily on the general population and frontline medical personnel. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for an inclusive health approach in response to pandemics. This inclusive health approach should be based on two main principles: (1) equitable access to healthcare services for the whole population, including marginalized communities, and (2) full participation and meaningful engagement in all health programmes and services, without discrimination.


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Lucero Prisno, D. & Adebisi, Y. 2020, 'Towards an inclusive health agenda: People who inject drugs and the COVID-19 response in Africa', Public Health, 190, pp. e7-e8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2020.10.017

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Last updated: 14 March 2024
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