Review Article

Disability inclusion in African health systems’ responses during COVID-19: A scoping review

Madri Engelbrecht, Yandisa Ngqangashe, Luphiwo Mduzana, Kate Sherry, Lieketseng Ned
African Journal of Disability | Vol 12 | a1284 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v12i0.1284 | © 2023 Madri Engelbrecht, Yandisa Ngqangashe, Luphiwo Mduzana, Kate Sherry, Lieketseng Ned | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 June 2023 | Published: 21 December 2023

About the author(s)

Madri Engelbrecht, Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Yandisa Ngqangashe, Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Luphiwo Mduzana, BHSC Medical Orthotics and Prosthetics, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa
Kate Sherry, Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Lieketseng Ned, Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Background: People with disabilities often experience poorer access to healthcare because of multiple barriers even in non-crisis times, especially more so in low- and middle-income countries. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic significantly constrained health systems, thus exacerbating access barriers. African health system responses to, and considerations made for people with disabilities during the pandemic have not been adequately examined to inform future inclusive practices during emergent and non-emergent periods.

Objectives: This review aimed to explore disability considerations and accommodations included by African governments in their health systems’ responses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Method: A scoping review was carried out of peer-reviewed published articles on the Web of Science, Academic Search Premier, MEDLINE, Africa-Wide Info, and CINAHL databases. A desktop search of African government websites for COVID-19 country plans and reports was also conducted. Deductive thematic analysis of included texts was performed to identify disability inclusiveness in the health responses.

Results: Ten peer-reviewed articles and three COVID-19 country plans or reports were included in the review. Data reflected a general finding that included countries that failed to effectively consider and include the healthcare needs of persons with disabilities during the pandemic.

Conclusion: Poor inclusion of persons with disabilities was effected in healthcare systems’ responses during COVID-19 in Africa.

Contribution: This article contributed insights about gaps in healthcare systems’ responses and highlighted development foci that could improve systems towards greater inclusivity of persons with disabilities’ health needs in low- and middle-income countries.


Keywords

disability inclusion; health systems’ responses; COVID-19; Africa; scoping review; deductive thematic analysis; healthcare access

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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