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The health of internally displaced children in sub-Saharan Africa: a scoping review
  1. Bukola Salami1,
  2. Stella Iwuagwu2,
  3. Oluwakemi Amodu1,
  4. Mia Tulli1,
  5. Chizoma Ndikom3,
  6. Hayat Gommaa4,
  7. Tina Lavin5,
  8. Michael Kariwo1
  1. 1Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2Center for the Right to Health, Abuja, Nigeria
  3. 3Department of Nursing, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo, Nigeria
  4. 4Department of Nursing Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna, Nigeria
  5. 5School of Population and Global Health, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Bukola Salami; bukola.salami{at}


Background Internally displaced children are those who have been forced to flee their homes due to severe unfavourable conditions (war, violence or disasters) but have not crossed international borders. Emerging research shows these children face multiple health challenges. However, we found no review focused solely on the health of such internally displaced children. Thus, this review sought to examine what is known about their health and their health concerns.

Methods A scoping review of the literature was conducted. A total of 10 databases were searched in January 2019, yielding 6602 articles after duplicates were eliminated. Two research assistants independently selected articles that met inclusion criteria. A numerical summary and thematic analysis were conducted to facilitate data extraction and data analysis.

Results A total of 25 articles met the inclusion criteria, including 16 quantitative, 6 qualitative and 3 mixed methods studies. The findings reveal elevated mental health problems and infectious diseases in this population. Findings on the nutritional status of internally displaced children as a broad group are mixed, with some studies showing poorer nutritional status among the children in this group and others showing poorer nutritional health status among host society children. Internally displaced children also experience challenges with access to health services. Premigration factors (trauma) and postmigration factors (humanitarian assistance on displacement) all contribute to the health of internally displaced children.

Conclusion Findings provide insight into the complex array of factors influencing the health of internally displaced children. More intervention studies are required to address the needs of this population.

  • child health

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • Twitter @hayat70235392, @tina_lavin

  • Contributors BS conceptualised the project and design, contributed to interpretation of data, supervised research assistant, wrote the introduction and methodology section and reviewed the work for important intellectual content. SI, CN, HG and TL contributed to the design of the work and reviewed the work for important intellectual content. OA and MT completed data analysis and data extraction, completed article selection and wrote part of the results section. MK contributed to the design of the work, reviewed the work for important intellectual content and supervised research assistants.

  • Funding This research was funded by the generous support of the Worldwide Universities Network Research Development Fund.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. Scoping review search strategy, data extraction and PRISMA were uploaded with manuscript.

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