Journal of
Public Health and Epidemiology

  • Abbreviation: J. Public Health Epidemiol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2316
  • DOI: 10.5897/JPHE
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 565

Full Length Research Paper

A narrative synthesis on COVID-19 risks and concerns in developing countries: The case of Ethiopia

Tekle Airgecho Lobie
  • Tekle Airgecho Lobie
  • College of Health and Medical Sciences, Haramaya University, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar
Dereje Tesfaye
  • Dereje Tesfaye
  • Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Norway.
  • Google Scholar
Aklilu Abrham
  • Aklilu Abrham
  • College of Health and Medical Sciences, Haramaya University, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 15 March 2020
  •  Accepted: 14 April 2020
  •  Published: 30 April 2020


In this review, we addressed risk factors for the spread of COVID-19 in the perspective of developing countries, and necessary measures to be undertaken to minimize or control its consequential crisis. Databases such as MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science, Scopus and websites of WHO, CDC, and ECDC were searched for relevant information and a narrative analysis approach was followed. As of April 10, 2020, there were a total of 1,674,967 cases and 101,483 deaths from COVID-19 in 210 countries, territories and two international conveyances around the world. During the same period Ethiopia has reported 64 confirmed cases, three deaths and four recoveries. Despite efforts being made to reduce most destinations, international flight especially to and from COVID-19 most hit countries were potential source of virus to the country. Large family size, low prevalence of the soap-based hand-washing practice, poor living conditions and social gatherings are among the main possible risk factors. On the other hand, limited health systems’ capacity in terms of trained workforce, medical supplies, diagnostic facilities, and intensive care units are possible challenges to control the pandemic. The current meagre testing capacity in the country that focuses only on suspected symptomatic cases while the virus is reportedly transmits from asymptomatic cases may result in a catastrophe due to its hidden spread in the community. For countries with weak economies, focusing their efforts on preventive measures is the best and yet cost-effective strategy. Some preventive efforts should focus on community health education about physical distancing, hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment, self-isolation and quarantine in the context of the local situation. It is crucial to enhance self-reporting and community-based family level care to the symptomatic cases and their contacts. Additional care needs to be in place during burial ceremonies of the unavoidably dead bodies to prevent further contamination. The socio-psychological consequences of COVID-19 need to be given appropriate consideration to avoid unnecessary discrimination, stigma and social destructions. Finally, coordinated efforts to increase contact tracing, isolation, testing and treating needs to be strengthened through national and international collaborations.

Key words: Coronavirus Disease, COVID-19, SARS-COV-2, Corona risks, developing



CDC, Center for Disease Control; COVID-19, Corona Virus Disease of 2019; EPHI, Ethiopian Public Health Institute; ECDC, European Center for Disease Control; IQR, Interquartile Range; MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome; USA, United States of America; WHO, World Health Organization.