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Integrating Research in Social Science in epidemic responses in Africa

Published onJun 13, 2023
Integrating Research in Social Science in epidemic responses in Africa

Epidemics are not a health crisis alone and it has become increasingly important to understand their implications across all dimensions of human existence. Therefore, policy responses to outbreaks of infectious epidemics cannot be isolated from the social and political context of the region. Social Science research can contribute exceptionally to understanding diverse socio-political contexts, and design policies which are comprehensive and inclusive. Integrating contextual knowledge, local and national partnerships, and prioritising community engagement can lead to robust, agile and resilient epidemic responses.   

This study contributes to the above aim by analysing the current and potential role of research across the Social Sciences in formulating robust and comprehensive policy responses to the outbreak of infectious epidemics in the African continent. The project will investigate how research in the fields of economics, politics, psychology, anthropology, sociology, history, geography, linguistics and other social sciences can be used to facilitate efforts to respond to epidemics, and in turn, how these insights can help shape policy responses for the same.    

The project aims to evaluate the utility and limits of extrapolating from existing knowledge to inform and speed up epidemic response, where knowledge gaps exist, and under what conditions primary research is necessary to bridge these gaps.  

By examining existing research, conducting expert interviews and collecting data from “Integrating social sciences in One Health research during epidemics”, a two-day workshop with field experts, academics and first responders, the project will identify barriers to integrating insights from different social sciences with each other and in policy responses to epidemics. With this, the study endeavours to build capacity for the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and contribute to the larger endeavour of building a coordinated and integrated strategy in the social sciences for outbreak responses across Africa. This project is a part of a Group Masters dissertation project at University College London (UCL) as part of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP PANDORA ID NET), in partnership with Chatham House and the Africa CDC.

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