By Caleb Mwamisi, AJAN Communications Officer
The African Jesuit AIDS Network is carrying out a survey on COVID-19. Its objectives include determining awareness levels, understanding perceptions, and practices regarding COVID-19. Dr. Robert Oswago, a social researcher from Pwani University in Kenya is the lead consultant in a process that involves four other co-investigators.
Albeit the core mandate of AJAN which is fighting HIV and AIDS, there is a close correlation between this work and COVID-19 as people living with HIV/AIDS, being among the vulnerable people whom Jesuits accompany are more likely to suffer the brunt consequences of new disease outbreaks and are often faced by economic issues arising from global health emergencies. Getting insight into people’s attitudes and behavior towards COVID-19 can help in the design of appropriate interventions such as behavior change communication. The learning points may assist in preparing populations for any other outbreak especially because, since 1990 according to the World Health Organization, pandemics have been on the ascendancy with Africa bearing the most weight of the burden.
The research will happen in Kenya and Madagascar. The process of planning for the cross-sectional survey in these countries has either concluded or has registered good progress. The team in Madagascar embarked on the qualitative data collection exercises of focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Kenya will start with the quantitative data collection on 23 September 2020. Planning and training have largely happened through virtual meetings on zoom where the lead team in Kenya has engaged the other teams across Africa.
After the emergence of COVID-19, AJAN also carried out a project dubbed #WalkwithaVulnerableFamily in Africa, as governments enforced lockdowns and other measures that affected their economies and hence the way of life for many was curtailed. Foodstuffs and personal preventive gear such as masks were distributed. This project was undertaken in partnership with other ministries under the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM).