Health of African refugee children outside Africa : a scoping review

27 Jul 2021

PROBLEM : Africa is the largest source continent of refugee children. However, we found no published synthesis of the literature on the health of African refugee children outside Africa. Conducting a review of the literature on this particular population will help illuminate the particular contextual health issues faced by African child refugees who live outside Africa. The purpose of this review is to synthesize what is known from the existing literature regarding the health of sub-Saharan African refugee children who live outside Africa. METHODS : We completed a scoping review of the published literature. We included articles published in English with a focus on the health of sub-Saharan African refugee children living outside Africa. We excluded studies of refugees in Africa as the living conditions of these refugees, most of whom reside in camps, are very different from those outside Africa. Using relevant keywords, we searched 10 databases to identify and screen 6602 articles after duplicates were eliminated. SAMPLE : A total of 20 studies were included in this review. FINDINGS : Published research articles on sub-Saharan African child refugees living outside Africa focus on infectious diseases, mental health and neurodevelopmental disorders, food insecurity and psychosocial adjustment, physical health (including obesity), and health promotion strategies. This population is characterized by a high rate of infectious diseases (e.g., malaria), obesity, and mental health problems, especially post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS : To attend to the health needs of sub-Saharan African refugee children who live outside Africa, interventions should address pre-migration factors as well as post-migration factors (including income and community belonging) while employing a strengths-based perspective.