On 7th March, 2024, the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) convened stakeholders to disseminate research findings on community perspectives during the COVID-19 pandemic response. The research findings were unveiled during a workshop held at the Jakaya Kikwete Conference Centre in Dodoma.
Addressing the participants on behalf of the Director General, Dr George Praygod, the Manager of NIMR Muhimbili Research Centre emphasized institute’s close collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ifakara Health Institute, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). The researchers investigated how communities perceived information regarding COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccines and how this knowledge can be leveraged to engage communities effectively for better preparedness and increased acceptance of intervention measures, including vaccination against outbreaks.
“I would like to emphasize that NIMR will continue to generate scientific evidence to ensure that policies, guidelines, and program activities are evidence-based and that NIMR continues to contribute to improving the well-being of Tanzanians,” said Dr. PrayGod.
Further, representing the Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health, Dr. Tumaini Haonga, the Assistant Director of Public Health Education Section, Ministry of Health, highlighted the importance of ongoing preventive measures and community behavior monitoring as key interventions enabling the country to implement scientifically proven measures.
He also called upon research institutions to intensify efforts in community health research to provide insights that support service delivery and achievement of goals.
Furthermore, Principal Investigator (PI) of the study, Dr. Elizabeth Shayo, said the study team disseminated the findings in order to promote on how can social science be integrated into pandemic response and how can community health workers who are in the community be used to document rumors, perceptions and beliefs of what is going on during such period.
The Project Research Fellow from LSHTM, Mark Marchant, paid tribute to NIMR for coordinating the workshop which he said will bring positive and desired results in the country.
These findings represent one of the successful outcomes of the innovative collaboration between the UK Health Security Agency and the LSHTM funded by the UK Aid through the UK Department of Health and Social Care.