New Study Finds Communication Flaws in Care for COVID-19 Patients

Only 24.3% of these participants reveal to have undergone any form of counselling before samples were taken from them.

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A study has revealed that people tested for COVID-19 do not receive counselling as required by medical guidelines.

The study titled, “Improving Health Communication, Dealing with Stigma and Coping Strategies in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Uganda was carried out in districts of Kampala, Tororo, Gulu, Wakiso and Luweero. Researchers analyzed data and interviewed up to 480 COVID-19 survivors in addition to people who had undergone institutional quarantine at the beginning of the pandemic.

Only 24.3% of these participants reveal to have undergone any form of counselling before samples were taken from them.

Releasing the findings on Thursday, Agnes Nyabigambo one of the researchers, said that when the participants had to be given medicine, only 3.9% were given information by the health workers about the drugs they were being given.

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Prof. Lynn Atuyambe a researcher based at the Makerere University School of Public Health who was also the Principal investigator says one of the objectives for their study was to identify the channels through which the COVID message was being communicated and how communities were coping with the problem.

He says people didn’t have adequate information that some of the early people to get infected were hijacked and never told they were being taken to isolation centres for treatment.

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About sources of information about the pandemic, researchers found a lot of people got information from social media although researchers say many respondents said they relied on television and radio for verification and authenticating information.

Atuyambe recommends that health managers get a way of blending information channels such that they utilize all avenues to avail people with enough information to avoid such challenges as vaccine hesitancy that was faced recently.

Dr Richard Kabanda who heads Health Promotion in the Ministry of Health said the recommendations by researchers are spot on saying that they have now developed a strategy of targeted communication that will enable people to get such much psycho-social support.

He said in some areas for instance in the counselling given to patients being discharged from treatment facilities, Uganda has performed well to the extent that the communication model was ranked high earlier when the country was voted among countries that were handling the pandemic well globally.

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The study was funded by the government through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (MAK – RIF).

Speaking at the release MAK – RIF Boss Prof. William Bazeyo said since many of the early interventions into COVID-19 and some that have been carried on to date had been borrowed from elsewhere. 

He noted that scientists here need to develop an evidence-based information base where recommendations that are have grown are brought up such that people can get the kind of care that is applicable and resonates with the local problems.