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Improving community engagement with COVID-19 public health messages in hard-to-reach communities

Pakistan has one of the highest numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Asia, with potentially devastating health and economic implications for a population heavily dependent on daily incomes.

It is important to ensure that communities understand and act on public health messages to limit the spread of further coronavirus outbreaks. This may be difficult to achieve in hard-to-reach populations, particularly when such messages are not sensitive to their culture. Previous health crises have highlighted that mistrust and rumour can undermine public confidence in the scientific evidence and can be a dangerous hindrance to response efforts.

Aims

Our study will explore the cultural barriers and facilitators to communicating public health and safety guidance in rural communities in North West Pakistan. We will focus on an impoverished brick-kiln community near the city of Peshawar, where households have an average income of less than one US dollar a day, limited access to clean water and unequal access to education and healthcare. We will work with the community to develop a response that is both effective and consistent with local interests.

As well as finding out about best ways to engage the community to follow public health advice, the community will decide on the material resources needed to support and implement these guidelines, such as providing a clean water supply. Researchers will work with community members to produce a toolkit that will help to support communication, community engagement and risk minimisation in similar hard to reach communities for future health crises.

BIZIFED members talking

Project Lead/Contact

Project Staff

Collaborators and Partners

  • Khyber Medical University (Dr Sadia Fatima, Dr Usman Mahboob)
  • Abaseen Foundation (Dr Rukhsana Farooqi)

Funders

This project is funded by UK Research and Innovation through the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund.

October 2020 to March 2022

Contact us

For further information please contact Dr Victoria Moran