Impact of Ebola and COVID-19 on maternal, neonatal, and child health care among populations affected by conflicts: A scoping review exploring demand and supply-side barriers and solutions

Document Type



Medical College Pakistan; Paediatrics and Child Health


Introduction: Armed conflicts have a severe impact on the health of women and children. Global health emergencies such as pandemics and disease outbreaks further exacerbate the challenges faced by vulnerable populations in accessing maternal, neonatal, and child healthcare (MNCH). There is a lack of evidence that summarizes the challenges faced by conflict-affected pregnant women, mothers, and children in accessing MNCH services during global health emergencies, mainly the Ebola and COVID-19 pandemics. This scoping review aimed to analyze studies evaluating and addressing barriers to accessing comprehensive MNCH services during Ebola and COVID-19 emergencies in populations affected by conflict.
Methods: The search was conducted on PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science databases using terms related to Ebola and COVID-19, conflicts, and MNCH. Original studies published between 1990 and 2022 were retrieved. Articles addressing the challenges in accessing MNCH-related services during pandemics in conflict-affected settings were included. Thematic analysis was performed to categorize the findings and identify barriers and solutions.
Results: Twenty-nine studies met the inclusion criteria. Challenges were identified in various MNCH domains, including antenatal care, intrapartum care, postnatal care, vaccination, family planning, and the management of childhood illnesses. Ebola-related supply-side challenges mainly concerned accessibility issues, health workforce constraints, and the adoption of stringent protocols. COVID-19 has resulted in barriers related to access to care, challenges pertaining to the health workforce, and new service adoption. On the demand-side, Ebola- and COVID-19-related risks and apprehensions were the leading barriers in accessing MNCH care. Community constraints on utilizing services during Ebola were caused by a lack of trust and awareness. Demand-side challenges of COVID-19 included fear of disease, language barriers, and communication difficulties. Strategies such as partnerships, strengthening of health systems, service innovation, and community-based initiatives have been employed to overcome these barriers.
Conclusion: Global health emergencies amplify the barriers to accessing MNCH services faced by conflict-affected populations. Cultural, linguistic, and supply-side factors are key challenges affecting various MNCH domains. Community-sensitive initiatives enhancing primary health care (PHC), mobile clinics, or outreach programs, and the integration of MNCH into PHC delivery should be implemented. Efforts should prioritize the well-being and empowerment of vulnerable populations. Addressing these barriers is crucial for achieving universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

Conflict and Health