Original Research

Combating coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in rural areas of Malawi: Factors affecting the fight

Winner Chawinga, Wales Singini, John Phuka, Nathaniel Chimbatata, Collins Mitambo, Clara Sambani, Dzinkambani Kambalame
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 15, No 1 | a3464 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v15i1.3464 | © 2023 Winner Chawinga, Wales Singini, John Phuka, Nathaniel Chimbatata, Collins Mitambo, Clara Sambani, Dzinkambani Kambalame | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 February 2022 | Published: 30 January 2023

About the author(s)

Winner Chawinga, Department of Information Sciences, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mzuzu University, Mzuzu, Malawi
Wales Singini, Research Directorate, Mzuzu University, Mzuzu, Malawi
John Phuka, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Blantyre, Malawi
Nathaniel Chimbatata, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health Sciences, Mzuzu University, Mzuzu, Malawi
Collins Mitambo, Public Health Institute of Malawi, Ministry of Health, Malawi, Lilongwe, Malawi
Clara Sambani, Research Department, Malawi Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi
Dzinkambani Kambalame, Public Health Institute of Malawi, Ministry of Health, Malawi, Lilongwe, Malawi

Abstract

Background: Owing to their detachment from urban areas, people living in rural areas of Malawi are on the receiving end of health services and socio-economic benefits. The study therefore explored how Malawians living in these areas are adhering to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) containment measures and the factors that affect the COVID-19 fight amongst this population.

Aim: The study investigated how the rural population in Malawi adheres to COVID-19 containment measures.

Setting: The study was conducted in two districts in Northern Malawi.

Methods: Data were collected from 263 participants. The chi-square (χ2) test was performed to determine the association between demographic variables and COVID-19 prevention practices and factors affecting the COVID-19 fight.

Results: Education was significantly associated with wearing of masks (p = 0.01), use of sanitisers (p < 0.01) and practising social distancing (p = 0.07). Monthly income was associated with the use of sanitisers (p < 0.01). Women were more exposed to fake news about COVID-19 (p = 0.09); older people were more likely to disregard COVID-19 containment measures for cultural reasons (p = 0.07); and monthly income was associated with a lack of resources for following COVID-19 containment measures (p < 0.01).

Conclusion: Findings show that factors affecting the COVID-19 fight are influenced by various socio-economic factors which should therefore be taken into account in policy planning aiming at controlling the pandemic.

Contribution: The study provides health stakeholders with a policy direction that enhances better coordination, implementation and monitoring of COVID-19 response and recovery activities in rural areas in Malawi. The findings have implications on controlling current and future communicable diseases; the proposed strategies might be employed in fighting similar current and future pandemics.


Keywords

COVID-19; crowded places; face masks; social distancing; Malawi.

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