South Sudanese know how to protect themselves against COVID-19
Yet, more needs to be done to translate knowledge into safe behaviour, says new study.
JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN 03 SEPTEMBER 2020 – Almost everyone in South Sudan knows about COVID-19 prevention measures and think it is important to take action, according to a new study released by the Ministry of Health and UNICEF today.
In the Knowledge, Attitudes and Practises (KAP) survey on uptake of COVID-19 information by the public, 95 per cent of the respondents say they have knowledge about COVID-19 prevention measures and 98 per cent say it is important to apply these measures to prevent the spread of the disease. All respondents,100 per cent, report that they have taken at least one preventive measure.
“We are very pleased to see that the risk communication strategy has been very successful, ‘everyone’ knows about COVID-19,” says the South Sudan Minister of Health Hon Elizabeth Achuei. “With the great support from UNICEF and the risk communication partners, we have been doing mass communication in multiple languages through a broad variety of channels to reach every corner of South Sudan. According to the study, we have reached most people with information, but we are not happy until everyone knows about COVID-19.”
The KAP study shows that door-to-door community mobilization, radio and megaphone announcements are the communication channels with highest reach. 92 per cent reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the information they received.
Even though all respondents have taken at least one preventive measure, too many people are still not going about their lives in a safe way. Several observations throughout the country suggest that people are still in close interaction with each other, not keeping physical distance of at least one meter. People are shaking hands, sharing meals and only a few are wearing face masks. Although handwashing stations are made available in markets and other frequently visited areas, many people are not using them.
One reason for poor behaviour change can be that 75-80 per cent of the recorded COVID-19 cases in South Sudan are asymptomatic. The KAP survey shows that only half of the respondents have good knowledge about how you may spread the virus even though you are not feeling sick.
“This is the classic attitude many people have - we often don’t act before we see it ourselves. However, that doesn’t work well with COVID-19 which is spreading in a silent way,” says the UNICEF South Sudan Representative Dr Mohamed Ag Ayoya. “We need for more people to use the COVID-19 knowledge they have to take action. I am calling upon trusted members of the communities, such as government officials, religious leaders, teachers and community leaders, to be good role models in their communities through practicing safe behaviour, specifically by wearing face masks and maintaining physical distance.”
About the survey:
The main objective of the survey is to detect behaviour changes of the target communities, through assessing their knowledge, attitudes and practices in relation to COVID-19. The survey was conducted in May 2020 and includes samples from 38 counties across all the ten states. In-person interviews with head of households, direct observation and questioners were used to collect the data. 57 per cent of the respondents were females.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work in South Sudan visit: www.unicef.org/southsudan