KARACHI: A new report illustrates the need to disseminate accurate Covid-19 knowledge through educational programmes targeted at good health practises in order to inspire and enable individuals to adopt preventive protocols.
The study was conducted by a research team headed by Prof Javaid Ahmed Khan at the Aga Khan University Hospital, titled Awareness, attitude and perception of Pakistanis towards Covid-19; a broad cross-sectional survey.
This study included a total of 1,200 respondents, most of whom were between 20 and 29 years of age, unmarried and residing in Sindh. There were bachelor’s degrees in more than half of the samples.
Students included a total of 179 members. The coronavirus was not contracted by any of the population (86.3 percent). Either smokers who had stopped smoking were one-quarter of the respondents.
The results of the study revealed that the majority of respondents had sufficient comprehension (93.3pc) and good interpretation (85.6pc) of Covid-19.
During the pandemic several incidents of mass gatherings have been observed, demonstrating poor knowledge of the outbreak’
However, substantial variations in information and understanding were found between races, age classes, education and between students and staff in the departments of health care and non-healthcare. A multivariate analysis showed that higher educational status and female gender were important predictors of adequate comprehension and perception.
The majority (70.5pc) of the respondents correctly replied that the coronavirus is spread by touch and air droplets. A large portion of the study (89.6pc) recognised that Covid-19 would lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure, and more than three quarters (79.2pc) accepted that the current therapy is supportive care.
Nearly all participants understood that washing hands with soap and water could help deter the spread of Covid-19 (98.4pc) and that sick patients could share with healthcare providers their recent travel history.
Overall, 93.3pc of our sample demonstrated sufficient Covid-19 information. While more than half (58.2pc) of the population agreed equally with the quarantine laws enforced by the government “to a large extent,” 36.8pc displayed only a “neutral” approach to the government of Pakistan’s capacity to contain the pandemic.
The rate of concern over Covid-19 infection ranged as 32.8pc were afraid of being poisoned by themselves and their relatives. As 67.3pc accepted that Covid-19 would be successfully controlled, a positive outlook was found, says the report.
About one-third (30.3pc) of the study, however, were not informed that elderly and critically ill patients were more likely to be seriously affected and almost one-quarter (24.6pc) of the respondents were unaware that flu vaccination was not adequate to avoid Covid-19.
Significant gaps in awareness and understanding were observed in the healthcare and non-healthcare divisions between all genders and across both age levels, school groups and between students and workers.
Similarly, there was a big gap in awareness between smokers and non-smokers. On multivariate knowledge review, the 30-39 and 50-59 age groups had slightly lower knowledge. Relevant awareness was strongly correlated with female gender and a minimum bachelor’s degree standard.
Likewise, positive awareness was strongly correlated with female gender, a minimum degree of bachelor’s education and being working in the healthcare sector.
The report illustrates how the pandemic has impacted the world, particularly Pakistan, a nation facing numerous public health problems, regarding the need for testing.
Indeed, high incidence and no definitive cure have created unprecedented problems in low-middle-income countries where protracted cycles of lockdowns, shortage of infrastructure, under-resourced healthcare and poor financial governance have contributed to paralysing economies, growing unemployment rates and an ever-increasing healthcare burden.’
Pakistan, it points out, lacks adequate medical facilities such as ventilators, hospital gowns and personal protection equipment to fight the continuing pandemic with a minimal allocated healthcare budget. Despite stringent government-enforced initiatives, a grim number of 260,000 cases and over 5,079 deaths is registered nationwide until July 17, 2020.
During the beginning of March, the provincial governments imposed a national lockout, which was sadly partially protested by hard-line clergy and religious leaders who encouraged people to resume routine congregational prayers in mosques.
Several cases of public gatherings have been observed nationwide over the duration of this pandemic, indicating insufficient understanding of the epidemic.
“In addition to the overall poor health literacy, Pakistan’s fragmented health care system coupled with the uncooperative attitude of the local population and the religious protesters to social distancing measures calls for an urgent strategic plan,” it says.