The findings of a research conducted by the Institute of Health Research (IHR) of the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) in the Hohoe and Ketu South Municipalities of the Volta Region, identified inadequate logistics at some institutions as challenges in engaging communities to support the Coronavirus fight.
The institutions are the Municipal and District Assemblies, Ghana Health Service, National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Information Services Department (ISD).
The research carried out between June and July 2021, revealed that the insufficient logistics including vehicles hindered the institutions to carry out engagement exercises in remote communities as well as affected the early supply in vaccines.
Dr Matilda Aberese-Ako and Professor Evelyn Ansah and other four Research Assistants conducted the research on “Promotion of Covid-19 management and vaccine acceptance through community engagement: An ethnographic case study in Ghana.”
The research was funded by the Royal Society of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine.
Dr Aberese-Ako who shared some of findings in Hohoe said the objectives of the research were to describe how the Ghanaian Government (above institutions) engaged communities in the fight against COVID-19.
Other objectives were to explore gaps in government’s engagements efforts with communities in the fight against COVID-19 and explore the innovative approaches adopted by government institutions can employ to improve engagements with communities to respond to the fight of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
A total of 36 and 47 respondents from the Hohoe and Ketu South Municipalities respectively participated in the research, which adopted a qualitative approach.
She noted that education on the pandemic started late while myths, misconceptions, misinformation, media and anti-vaccine songs made it difficult for community members to change the beliefs they had formed on the COVID-19.
Dr Aberese-Ako also said there was lack of clarity and perceived inconsistency of COVID-19 statistics since the emergence of the disease, delay in the provision of vaccines and intervals between doses, backlash from vaccine and trust issues in the pandemic fight.
She said findings showed that engagements however appeared to be more at institutional level, more of a top-down and government institutions competing with the media and community rumour mill.
Dr Aberese-Ako said there was the need for communities to also step up and use their limited resources to assist government institutions.
She noted that some lessons from the research were that the Community Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) programme was the closest to community engagement, community resources and collaboration were crucial.
Dr Aberese-Ako said early, and continued education were crucial to sustaining gains made and the need for communities need to see government institutions as partners to ensure sustainable collaboration.
She said a successful engagement activity resulted in observance of COVID-19 preventive measures and vaccine acceptance, but a good number of community members were not observing COVID 19 protocols, and some were unwilling to take the vaccine.
Dr Aberese-Ako noted that engaging the community was important for management of COVID-19 preventive measures and vaccine acceptance while engagement must aim at reaching all categories of people.
She said there was the need for the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Information Services Department (ISD) to be equipped to ensure that they support the advancement of healthcare in the country, planning and consultation with communities through continuous community interaction.