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Health impacts of pedestrian head-loading: A review of the evidence with particular reference to women and children in sub-Saharan Africa

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Steve RobsonORCiD, Dr Mwenza BlellORCiD


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Across sub-Saharan Africa, women and children play major roles as pedestrian load-transporters, in the widespread absence of basic sanitation services, electricity and affordable/reliable motorised transport. The majority of loads, including water and firewood for domestic purposes, are carried on the head. Load-carrying has implications not only for school attendance and performance, women's time budgets and gender relations, but arguably also for health and well-being. We report findings from a comprehensive review of relevant literature, undertaken June-September 2012, focussing particularly on biomechanics, maternal health, and the psycho-social impacts of load-carrying; we also draw from our own research. Key knowledge gaps and areas for future research are highlighted. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Porter G, Hampshire K, Dunn C, Hall R, Levesley M, Burton K, Robson S, Abane A, Blell M, Panther J

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Social Science and Medicine

Year: 2013

Volume: 88

Pages: 90-97

Print publication date: 01/07/2013

Online publication date: 17/04/2013

ISSN (print): 0277-9536

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5347



DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.04.010