Increased child abuse in Uganda amidst COVID‐19 pandemic

Quraish Sserwanja, Joseph Kawuki, Jean H Kim - Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health


Globally, COVID‐19 lockdown measures have exposed children to more sexual, physical and emotional abuse and neglect. Although the COVID‐19 pandemic is likely to have long‐lasting adverse psychological effects on children, there have been comparatively few studies on children's health as compared with adults, particularly in low‐income countries. Uganda implemented one of the most stringent lockdowns with bans on transportation and gatherings as well as the closure of schools, stores and places of worship. In order to address the dearth of information in less developed regions, the article aims to provide an insight into the increased cases of child abuse in Uganda during the COVID‐19 pandemic. The data and information were primarily compiled from government and child welfare organisation open‐source databases. The psychosocial impacts of COVID‐19 have greatly disrupted the living conditions of children, limiting their access to basic needs such as food and health care. In addition, there is a lack of social support, thus putting children at an increased risk of different forms of child abuse. Since the implementation of the COVID‐19 lockdown in Uganda, there has been a rise in the incidence of child abuse. Increased cases of physical and sexual abuse against children have been reported in different parts of the country as well as increased cases of child labour. To strengthen child protection during the COVID‐19 pandemic, this article highlights a need for multi‐level stakeholder cooperation to ensure increased funding, increased community awareness and sensitisation, early detection and effective management and referral of child abuse cases.