Norms, beliefs & practices relevant to the prevention of COVID-19 in the Middle East & North Africa

A literature analysis

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This literature review identifies factors which may influence sustained observance to COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction behaviours in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The work was commissioned by UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Office (MENARO)) on behalf of the EM/MENA Regional Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) Working Group co-led by WHO EMRO, UNICEF MENARO and IFRC MENA. The review and its recommendations are designed to be of operational use to UNICEF and partners, and all relevant actors, with regard to the design of effective context-relevant risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) strategies, guidance and tools and to identify areas for further research, in the specific context of the Middle East and North Africa.

The review focuses on social and cultural barriers and enablers to a number of practices relating to prevention, detection and response to COVID-19. Specifically: effective hand and respiratory hygiene; physical distancing, immunisation, testing, case reporting, contact tracing, health-seeking, antenatal and PNC care-seeking, quarantine and isolation, home-based care and shielding of high-risk populations. These practices or public health measures have been variously recommended or mandated by governments and international organisations across the region. They were identified as key practices for the prevention of subsequent waves of COVID-19 as restrictions and lockdown measures are eased.

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