The role of schools in supporting HIV-affected children in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review

Andersen, Louise Buhl

Aim: To establish an overview of school-based interventions carried out to support the health and well-being of vulnerable children in Zimbabwe and similar socio-economic contexts in sub-Saharan Africa. Methods: A literature search was carried out in Web of Knowledge using combinations of the following search terms: support, intervention, school, child, Zimbabwe, sub-Saharan Africa, health, well-being, inclusion and enrolment. A total of 12 articles were identified as relevant to the research question and included in this review. Findings: Interventions in sub-Saharan Africa have been successful in implementing health knowledge at schools. Whereas a few studies have acknowledged the potential of schools to go beyond knowledge and facilitate a supportive and caring environment for vulnerable children, they tend to refer to studies reporting on externally implemented and resourced interventions. Limited attention has been given to the psychosocial well-being of children and children’s own experiences of school environments. Conclusion: Existing literature needs to be supplemented with research exploring pathways through which schools in challenging socio-economic contexts manage to support HIV-affected children by drawing on already available resources and by involving local communities. Furthermore, more in-depth qualitative research from children’ is needed in order to understand the needs of HIV-affected children and how they themselves experience ways in which schools support them to cope with adversity in their everyday lives.

November 17, 2016
Year of publication
Resource types
Journal and research articles, Systematic reviews
HIV, HIV prevention, treatment, vulnerable children, Zimbabwe, sub-saharan Africa, knowledge, psychological well-being, socio-cultural barriers, school-based interventions

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