Background: Despite the presence of COVID-19 epidemiologic data in Africa, there are gaps in the understanding of healthcare workers’ concerns and fears early in the pandemic. Methods: A retrospective cross-sectional multi-country pan-African qualitative survey case study on the perceived effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers in the continent focused specifically on personal safety and misinformation. The survey was distributed to 13 countries via snowball sampling of practitioners between April 22 and May 15, 2020. The survey solicited free-form answers, resulting in a large spectrum of responses. Qualitative analysis included open and axial coding methods for thematic emergence. Results: A total of 489 analyzable responses were recorded. The majority of respondents (n = 273, 57%) highlighted personal safety concerns including lack of resources and training to prevent infection (33%); fear of infection and transmission (24%); lack of public awareness and compliance with regulations (12%); governmental concerns (9%) and economic insecurity (11%) amongst others. 328 respondents (67%) reported having heard misinformation about COVID-19. Responses included misinformation regarding origin of the virus (11%), false modes of transmission (6%), differential effect for specific groups (30%), unproven cures (35%), and disbelief in existence (11%). Responses for misinformation and fears revealed categorical associations between certain countries. Conclusion: Addressing fears and concerns of frontline healthcare workers facilitates their essential role in combating community misinformation, and further understanding could provide essential insight to institutions and governments to direct resource allotment and community education.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding was received through the University of Minnesota Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility; UMN COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to Jose Daniel Debes.
© 2022 The Authors