Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 also called coronavirus disease 2019 was first reported in the African continent on 14 February 2020 in Egypt. As at 18 December 2020, the continent reported 2,449,754 confirmed cases, 57,817 deaths and 2,073,214 recoveries. Urban cities in Africa have particularly suffered the brunt of coronavirus disease 2019 coupled with criticisms that the response strategies have largely been a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. This article reviewed early evidence on urban health nexus with coronavirus disease 2019 preparedness and response in Africa.
A rapid scoping review of empirical and grey literature was done using data sources such as ScienceDirect, GoogleScholar, PubMed, HINARI and official websites of World Health Organization and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. A total of 26 full articles (empirical studies, reviews and commentaries) were synthesised and analysed qualitatively based on predefined inclusion criteria on publication relevance and quality.
Over 70% of the 26 articles reported on coronavirus disease 2019 response strategies across Africa; 27% of the articles reported on preparedness towards coronavirus disease 2019, while 38% reported on urbanisation nexus with coronavirus disease 2019; 40% of the publications were full-text empirical studies, while the remaining 60% were either commentaries, reviews or editorials. It was found that urban cities remain epicentres of coronavirus disease 2019 in Africa. Even though some successes have been recorded in Africa regarding coronavirus disease 2019 fight, the continent’s response strategies were largely found to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Consequently, adoption of ‘Western elitist’ mitigating measures for coronavirus disease 2019 containment resulted in excesses and spillover effects on individuals, families and economies in Africa.
Africa needs to increase commitment to health systems strengthening through context-specific interventions and prioritisation of pandemic preparedness over response. Likewise, improved economic resilience and proper urban planning will help African countries to respond better to future public health emergencies, as coronavirus disease 2019 cases continue to surge on the continent.


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Alhassan, R., Nutor, J., Abuosi, A., Afaya, A., Mohammed, S., Dalaba, M., Immurana, M., Manyeh, A., Klu, D., Acquah, E., Nketiah-Amponsah, E., Tampouri, J., Akoriyea, S., Amuna, P., Ansah, E., Gyapong, M., Owusu-Agyei, S., Gyapong, J., Aberese-Ako, M. & Doegah, P. 2021, 'Urban health nexus with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) preparedness and response in Africa: Rapid scoping review of the early evidence', Sage Open Medicine, 9. https://doi.org/10.1177/2050312121994360

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Last updated: 23 May 2024
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