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

Gina Porter, Kate Hampshire, Christine Dunn, Richard Hall, Martin Levesley, Kim Burton, Steve Robson, Albert Abane, Mwenza Blell, Julia Panther

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20 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-97
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Early online date17 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


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