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Survey in Ethiopia on COVID-19 reveals need for better communication strategies around Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions

The Global One Health initiative (GOHi) at The Ohio State University conducted a survey in Ethiopia to gauge awareness of and perceptions about COVID-19 and Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs)—the actions, excluding getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses.

The GOHi regional office in Ethiopia worked in partnership with faculty from Ohio State’s CHRR in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Medicine, along with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, the Ethiopian Public Health Institute and the Resolve to Save Lives initiative to complete the rapid COVID-19 communication survey, which targeted 834 community members.

The team conducted the polling via telephone in five major cities in Ethiopia—Addis Ababa, Gondar, Mekelle, Adama and Hawassa.

Ultimately, the results showed that although people know about COVID-19 and understand how it is transmitted, there were misconceptions about the source of infection, levels of risk and possible treatments and cures. Twenty-five percent of respondents believed that they have no risk of catching COVID-19 and a majority believed in incorrect forms of treatments. The results also identified challenges in several key areas of readiness, including lack of hospital capacity.

The report was provided to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education Advisory Council so that they can create accurate and actionable communications strategies around COVID-19.

The hope is to better explain the magnitude of the risk to the community and increase acceptance of NPIs to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.