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COVID-19: Over 70% of Kampala City Dwellers Feel Gov’t is Not Acting in Public Interest

Of the 858 participants surveyed from 10 villages in Nakawa and 20 villages in Kawempe, Dr. Daniel Semakula, a Co- Investigator on the study told journalists that only 30% were positive that government can offer the necessary support to households suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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There is very low trust among residents of Nakawa and Kawempe divisions in Kampala city in government’s efforts to curb COVID-19, a study by Makerere University researchers issued on Tuesday has revealed. 

Of the 858 participants surveyed from 10 villages in Nakawa and 20 villages in Kawempe, Dr. Daniel Semakula, a Co- Investigator on the study told journalists that only 30% were positive that government can offer the necessary support to households suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.       

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Coming out at the time when there are grievances over the recently distributed COVID-19 cash relief that was marred with irregularities including double payment of some beneficiaries of the Shillings 53billion meant to help the vulnerable poor whose businesses were affected by the lock down, the population, researchers say portrayed a degree of awareness about government programs.

Although, majority were unsure that government is acting in the public’s best interest. Majority of the respondents were from slum areas where researchers were among others observed access to piped water for hand hygiene in addition to the internet and electricity for access to information considering that updates on the disease are given via TV and Radio. 

The researchers aimed to assess prevailing attitudes and perceptions towards COVID-19 mitigation measures and community responses to the “new social norms” imposed by the emergency response. According to findings, dwellers least trusted information from their local leaders and trusted more information that came from scientists.

 

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Findings like these, researchers say are important to give healthcare managers direction on who to use for, which roles in times of the pandemic as already they observed good will in the audience to adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures.

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On his part, Prof. Nelson Sewankambo, the Director Thrive Consortium, a think tank for health researchers, said these findings show earlier used approaches in effectively tackling previous outbreaks and pandemics in the country have been absent during COVID-19 in the country. 

“The top-down approach by government in implementing COVID-19 prevention and control measures such as lock downs has been met with stiff resistance among vulnerable communities in the two Kampala divisions”, he said. 

Adding that “the  contextually relevant community engagement model used previously worked.” According to the researchers, success of any measures against the COVID-19 required community participation, ownership and sustainability of the efforts at grassroots levels. 

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This implies integrating community communication and participation into prevention and control measures. The study, which was funded by the government through Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund started eight months after the pandemic was declared in the country.    

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