Educative materials have been developed by researchers to enhance behaviour change in Uganda as the country grapples with a spike in COVID-19 infections.
This followed a study titled Refugee Lived Experiences, Compliance and Thinking (REFLECT) which was conducted in various refugee settlements covering over 5 nationalities in areas including Kisenyi in Kampala, Kyaka II in Kyegegwa District, and eleven (11) Adjumani Refugee Settlements in West Nile.
During the dissemination of research study findings on Monday in Kyegegwa district, it was noted that majority of the refugee communities were well informed about Covid-19 but that up to 40% were found to have knowledge gaps on the nature, transmission, symptoms and dangers of the virus.
Gloria Seruwagi, the Principle Investigator of the study said while a lot of information about COVID-19 has been provided by government and other actors including local stakeholders, children and adolescents have not been targeted in the messages.
“We realised that the fact that they have not been targeted. The masks which are on the market are all big and if a child wears it, it is going to fall down. We decided to channel some of the study resources into making customised masks for some of the children,” she explained.
Uganda is in Stage 4 of COVID-19 transmission – the most severe phase characterised by several clusters of the infection.
“We are now producing behavioural change messages; like posters for the community and we have translated them in the different languages as we work with our partners in the different refugee settlements across Uganda,” said Seruwagi.
“You are going to see a lot of these in the next years. We hope that as the Reflect study team, we are leading by example to start developing materials, begin influencing behaviour and engage leaders,” she emphasised.
According to Aldrine Jethro Pafa, representative of the Kyegegwa Resident District Commissioner, measures to see inclusive dissemination of information and adherence to SOPs even among children are being implemented.
“This is being done through sensitisations on radios. As the District Task Force, we continue to inform the public that covid-19 is real,” he said.
According to Dr Misaki Wayengera, chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee-Ministry of Health and National Task Force, said the Ministry of Education and Sports has ensured that there are educational programmes on televisions and also printed out educational materials that were distributed along with Covid-19 supplies to every district.
“There are targeted efforts to make sure that we roll out Rapid Diagnostic Tests to make sure that we can screen the populations especially as children go back to school. We screen them but most importantly know who is infected and pull them out from the community,” said Wayengera.
The study was funded by Elrha/R2HC (Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises) and supported by UKAID, Wellcome and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), they partnered with ministry of health, Centre for Health and Social Economic Improvement (CHASE-I), Acord, Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Gulu and Makerere University.