COVID-19 in pastoral contexts in the greater Horn of Africa: Implications and recommendations
COVID-19 is a global pandemic that continues to spread around the world, including to Africa where cases are steadily increasing. The African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is leading the pandemic response in Africa, with direction from the World Health Organization guidelines for critical preparedness, readiness, and response actions. These are written for national governments, lacking nuance for population and local differences. In the greater Horn of Africa, conditions unique to pastoralists such as inherent mobility and limited health and service infrastructure will influence the dynamics of COVID-19. In this paper, we present a One Health approach to the pandemic, consisting of interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration focused on the determinants of health and health outcomes amongst pastoralists. Our contextualized public health strategy includes community One Health teams and suggestions for where to implement targeted public health measures. We also analyse the interaction of COVID-19 impacts, including those caused directly by the disease and those that result from control efforts, with ongoing shocks and vulnerabilities in the region (e.g. desert locusts, livestock disease outbreaks, floods, conflict, and development displacement). We give recommendations on how to prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its secondary impacts on pastoral areas. Given that the full impact of COVID-19 on pastoral areas is unknown currently, our health recommendations focus on disease prevention and understanding disease epidemiology. We emphasize targeting pastoral toponymies with public health measures to secure market access and mobility while combating the direct health impacts of COVID-19. A contextualized approach for the COVID-19 public health response in pastoral areas in the Greater Horn of Africa, including how the pandemic will interact with existing shocks and vulnerabilities, is required for an effective response, while protecting pastoral livelihoods and food, income, and nutrition security. © 2020, The Author(s).