Scientist Designs Covid-19 Behavioral Change and Communication Alphabet Model

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A Makerere University health expert has asked schools to emphasize Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that can realistically be adhered to.

Dr Gloria Seruwagi, a behavioral scientist based at Makerere University School of Public Health expressed reservations over strict enforcement of social distancing in schools, an SOP that has baffled other scientists who had earlier recommended for schools to only re-open when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. 

Seruwagi says that schools are better off focusing on enforcing proper and consistent mask-wearing as this can provide some protection even in absence of the likes of distancing.

She said this while launching a Behavioral Change and Communication model dubbed, ‘ The A – Z of COVID in Uganda. In the model, Seruwagi highlights what Uganda has done right, what has been done wrong and what is needed of different categories of people if the country is to nip the pandemic in the bud.

The information which she picked from the studies that the university has been conducting since the advent of the disease last year and the government’s policy decisions have been organized in alphabetic order.  This was done to aid easy memorizing since the majority including children have memorized the alphabet.

In the model,  Seruwagi starts with an A representing Awareness and goes ahead to say that awareness is high but adherence to preventive guidelines is extremely low.  B represents the need for behavioural change messages in the face of high community infections and complacency while deaths, infection and recovery from the viral respiratory disease remain shrouded in mystery.

She says if the A to Z is followed through especially by the government a lot of misconceptions and missed prioritizes will be rectified. She says for instance when it comes to the mask which is M in the model, even as the government gave masks many didn’t get and yet those that got, they no longer put them on.

Other than giving out more free masks, she says government ought to first tackle enforcement of the SOPs.

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