COVID-19, Social Distancing and Lockdown: Implications on Older People in the Middle East & North Africa


In February 2021, Professor Shereen Hussein presented findings from the MENARAH’s research on the implications of COVID-19 restrictions and the wellbeing of older people in the MENA region in a symposium organised by the International Network for the Study of Arab Societies: INASS Dialogues.

Professor Hussein provided an overview of COVID-19 infection levels, highlighting caution in relation to existing data and reporting, and associated national and local infection control measures. The focus of her talk was on the direct and indirect implications of such measures, such as social distancing, lockdown and curfew on older people and their family carers in the MENA region.

Drawing on findings from recent interviews with older people and their carers which were collected early 2021 in Egypt as part of one of MENARAH’s projects. The findings highlight some the adverse effects on older people’s wellbeing, which were largely invisible from the policy and practice debate. These new implications are compounded with lack of existing support mechanisms for older people and their family carers in the region with considerable negative health outcomes, such as deconditioning and potential cognitive deterioration as well as isolation and declined independency.

The early findings, to be published late 2021, calls for the need of raising public and policy awareness of the specific needs of the people at old age and the adverse effect of the pandemic on their physical and psychological wellbeing.

Professor Hussein also introduced the MENARAH network and showcased the network efforts in producing visual materials and utilising social media to encourage physical activities at home during the pandemic that were designed specifically to older people and their informal carers in the MENA region.

Watch a summary of the event on Facebook


+ posts

Professor of Health and Social Care Policy, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

Shereen Hussein is a Professor of Health and Social Care Policy at the Department of Health Services Research and Policy (HSRP) at the LSHTM. She is a Co-Director of the PRUComm policy research unit. She is also an Honorary Professor at the University of Kent and King’s College London in the UK and the University of Southern Queensland in Australia.

Shereen is a demographer with expertise in labour-migration, sociology and economics. Her primary research revolves around ageing, family dynamics, migration and long-term care. Shereen has previously worked with the United Nations, the Population Council, the World Bank, and the League of Arab States. Her current research focuses on ageing demographics, long term care demand and migration within the UK and Europe and the implications on policy and practice.

Shereen has conducted extensive research on population ageing and its impact on long term care and health policy and practices in the UK, internationally and in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. She has contributed to recent United Nations’ policy response to ageing in the region through collaboration with UN-ESCWA and directly providing expert consultations to several countries in the region including Turkey, Oman and Egypt. Shereen leads many large research projects on ageing and long-term care in the UK and contributes to a large project addressing responses to dementia in developing countries STRiDE. Shereen is the founder and lead of the MENARAH network.