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Social science support for COVID-19: Lessons Learned Brief 1 - What social sciences researchers working in humanitarian contexts (Sub-Saharan Africa) should be asking in COVID-19 and why

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Since August 2018, an Ebola epidemic has continued to spread throughout the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), resulting in 3404 cases and over 2240 deaths, including many women and children. Despite cases continuing into 2020 (including new cases in April, two days before the anticipated declaration of the end of the outbreak) a new world-wide pandemic began. COVID-19, a novel coronavirus, originated in Wuhan, China, and has since spread to 213 countries, areas or territories and infected over 2.7 million people, including healthcare workers (HCWs). In February 2020, the first case was announced in Africa, and as of April 2020, cases have been confirmed across 52 countries.

While prediction models for the spread of COVID-19 across the continent vary, the forecasting of the secondary impacts of the outbreak on health, poverty and stability of already fragile settings are consistent. COVID-19 adds to the burden of endemic infectious diseases and conflict facing many countries in the region, with impacts compounded by conditions of limited water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) coverage, and population overcrowding. Communities and humanitarian actors working to support the COVID-19 response within these contexts are presented with the challenge of preventing the overwhelming of health systems and diversion of resources critical to addressing existing needs.

Other briefs in this series:

Social science support for COVID-19: Lessons Learned Brief 2 - Gender inclusiveness in COVID-19 humanitarian response operations, evidence from social sciences outbreak research

Social science support for COVID-19: Lessons Learned Brief 3 - Humanitarian programme recommendations for COVID-19 based on social sciences evidence from the DRC Ebola outbreak response

Social science support for COVID-19: Lessons Learned Brief 4 - Social sciences evidence on barriers to healthcare seeking during the DRC Ebola outbreak