“About four-fifth of the respondents had poor attitude toward COVID-19 and just over 70% of the Health Care Workers-HCWs had good practices toward COVID-19 especially those aged 40 years or more,” says the descriptive study undertaken through WhatsApp Messenger.
workers at four Makerere University Teaching Hospitals have a negative attitude
toward COVID-19 patients.
This was revealed in
an online cross-sectional study conducted at Mulago National Referral Hospital, Mulago Specialized Women and Neonatal
Hospital, Kiruddu National Referral Hospital, and
Kawempe National Referral Hospital.
The hospitals are
components of Mulago Hospital Complex, the largest public hospital in Uganda with
the estimated bed capacity of 1,800. There are between 1,300–1,500 healthcare workers in the four hospitals including nurses,
midwives, intern doctors, medical officers, senior house officers and
First published in the Journal of Frontiers in Public Health in
April, the study that had sought to determine knowledge, attitude and practices
of health care workers toward COVID-19 in the country, shows that only 21 per cent of
the participants demonstrated a good attitude.
“About four-fifths of
the respondents had a poor attitude toward COVID-19 and just over 70 per cent of the
Health Care Workers had good practices toward COVID-19 especially those
aged 40 years or more,” says the descriptive study was undertaken through WhatsApp
This is the first study in Uganda and sub-Saharan Africa to assess the
knowledge, attitude and practice of Health Care Workers towards COVID-19.
It was undertaken by five medical researchers both from Makerere and
Gulu Universities in the wake of Coronavirus disease, an emerging public
health problem threatening the lives of over 3.5 million people globally.
Although researchers approached 581 health workers during the study, only 136
responded. Results, however, show that only 44 per cent of the health workers in the study agreed that they could confidently participate in the management of
patients with COVID-19, implying that adequate information on case management
should be provided to the health workers.
It recommended continued professional education among health workers in Uganda
to improve their knowledge henceforth averting negative attitudes and promote
positive preventive and therapeutic practices. “We recommend follow up studies involving
teaching and non-teaching hospitals across the country,” said the researchers.
When asked about the preparedness of Uganda, up to 29 per cent believed that Uganda was
not in a good position to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers say
healthcare workers are at the frontline of COVID-19 pandemic response and are
exposed to dangers like pathogens, long working hours, psychological distress,
fatigue, occupational burnout and stigma as well as physical violence.
They contend that a poor understanding of the disease among health workers can
result in delayed identification and treatment leading to rapid spread of
infections. They thus recommend further education and training through
continuous professional education and journal clubs, particularly on symptoms
and transmission as essential in improving the knowledge of health workers
about COVID-19 in our setting.
About 17 per cent of the health workers believed that wearing general medical masks was not
protective against COVID-19. It also shows that health workers in Makerere
University Teaching Hospitals have good COVID-19 prevention practices.
For instance, the majority of them are following infection prevention and control
practices of regular hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing a face mask
when in high-risk situations as recommended by the Ministry of Health and WHO.
Up to 93 per cent and 96 per cent of health workers reported wearing a face mask
when in contact with patients and washing hands before/after handling patients. However,
up to 60 per cent of health workers admitted having avoided patients with symptoms
suggestive of COVID-19. This, researchers suspect can be attributed to a shortage
of personal protective equipment which has become a global problem
Additionally, knowledge on COVID-19 was significantly higher among health
workers who used news media such as televisions and newspapers and those aged
18–39 were more knowledgeable about COVID-19. The disease was first reported in December 2019 among patients with viral
pneumonia symptoms in Wuhan, China.