By Caleb Mwamisi

The African Jesuit AIDS Network is carrying out a survey on COVID19. Its objectives include determining awareness levels, and understanding perceptions and practices regarding COVID19. Dr. Robert Oswago, a social researcher from Kenya’s Pwani University is the lead consultant in a process which involves four other co-investigators.

Albeit the core mandate of the AJAN is fighting HIV and AIDS, there is a close correlation between this work and COVID19 as PLHIVs are more likely to suffer the brunt of such occurrences as new disease outbreaks and economic problems, being among vulnerable whom Jesuits work to assist. Getting insight about people’s attitudes and behavior towards COVID19 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 and will likely conclude in the next one month. 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 23rd September 2020. Planning and training have largely happened through virtual meetings on zoom as the lead team in Kenya has engaged the other teams across Africa.

After the emergence of COVID19, 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. Food stuffs 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.

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