Epidemics and African Health Systems: Covid-19 in Kenya
This project addresses an urgent issue in global health: the response of African health systems to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As Covid-19 creates medical and economic havoc the world over, it is highlighting the vital role of robust national health systems. We need to understand forms of resilience as well as fragilities in health systems as they respond to emerging epidemics. We also need to understand how epidemic interventions relate to people’s lives.
Using ethnographic methods combined with public health and epidemiology, our project will produce vital knowledge of the intersection between Covid-19 and the Kenyan health system, from the perspectives of those working within and using it.
More broadly we aim to explore the intersections between epidemics, health systems and people’s lives.
The project’s overall objective is to explore the intersections between epidemics, health systems and people’s lives, with a focus on Kenya’s response to Covid19.
The Covid-19 pandemic is re-shaping economies, politics and health, as well as everyday lives and livelihoods. Our research will explore the intersections between epidemics, health systems and people’s lives. The project will focus on Kenya as a case study for how an African health system handles outbreaks of diseases with epidemic potential such as Covid-19. Research will focus on the perspectives and practices of people working within the Kenyan health system, as well as on patients, families, care-givers and ordinary citizens.
Robust and sustainable health systems are key to preventing outbreaks of emerging infectious disease from spreading beyond control and ensuring access to medical treatment and care. During the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the spread of the virus interacted with fragile health systems and weak trust in state institutions to produce catastrophic effects. The Covid19 pandemic is likewise highlighting our dependence on public healthcare systems, underlining the urgent need to invest in them and ensure access to quality health care for all. We need to understand forms of resilience as well as fragilities in health systems, as they respond to emerging epidemics. We also need to understand the intersections between epidemics, health systems and people’s lives.
Our partners are at the university of Maseno and the Kenya Medical Research Institute in Kenya; and the University of Cambridge, UK (Centre for the Study of Existential Risk).
The Research Council of Norway.
Project Start and Finish
June 2021 to June 2025.