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The emergence of Coronavirus 19 (COVID-19), which quickly spread across the world and became a global pandemic in early 2020, has created enormous challenges for global health and social-economic systems.

However, the pandemic’s health and social-economic effects have differed across regions and countries due to differences in health systems, economic strength, and governance; three pillars which remain weak in sub-Saharan Africa.

Globally, various containment measures were quickly put in place to reduce COVID-19 infection rates. However, estimating the infection rates in Africa region remains a daunting challenge due to limited laboratory capacity and clinical diagnostics, difficulties in contact tracing, the diversity of populations, and the dynamics of vulnerabilities.

This study is concerned with the eastern Africa region, which reported low numbers of cases of COVID-19.

Governments across the region scrambled to prevent and control the spread of the disease and its devastating effects, and an absence of a coordinated intercountry framework during the early days of the pandemic left each country seeking policy interventions to protect its citizens regardless of the interdependence of their economies and their people, and the challengingly porous borders across the region.

Later, as more information about COVID-19 became available, regional governments put in place different preventive policy responses to curb the spread and manage the disease and a regional framework was developed under the leadership of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to coordinate information and resource-sharing across the continent.

This systematic review focuses on identifying the differences and similarities between governments’ approaches to the pandemic across the Eastern Africa region. The study adds a comparative policy analysis to the existing literature on the COVID-19 pandemic. It explores the different COVID-19 policy regimes by governments across the eastern Africa region, which is important in developing evidence-based strategies to deal with health hazards.

The aim of this review is to systematically undertake an inventory of COVID-19 policies, describe their timing and characteristics, and assess the opportunities and challenges associated with their implementation across the eastern Africa region.

Variations in COVID-19 interventions: A systematic review and meta-ethnography of government policy responses and characteristics in eastern Africa, was first published in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction on October 1, 2023.

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Photo: COVID-19 testing in Madagascar, World Bank/Henitsoa Rafalia

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