On October 14, 2021, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the College of Medicine, University of Lagos (CMUL) convened a dissemination meeting to present findings from the Data4COVID19 Africa challenge, Nigeria Project. Findings from the project will provide scientific evidence to inform public health action for Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Data4COVID19 Africa Challenge, according toa statement by Dr. Yahya Disu, Head of Communications, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), is a data challenge hosted by l’Agencefrançaise de développement (AFD), Expertise France, and The GovLab for projects that use data to address COVID-19 and its consequences across Africa. Following a call for innovative proposals made between December 15, 2020, and February 5, 2021, NCDC and CMUL emerged one of seven awardees to represent Nigeria in the challenge.
The Nigerian project is titled ‘Understanding facilitators and barriers to compliance with non-pharmaceutical COVID-19 preventive measures in Nigeria.’ The study was aimed at analysing existing conventional and non-conventional data on COVID-19 to understand the social, economic, and political factors that influence knowledge and perception of COVID-19 among Nigerians, and how these knowledge and perceptions shape population behaviour and response to COVID-19 safety protocols.
The study utilised non-traditional datasets from six distinct online and telephone-based surveys that were conducted during different phases of the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria. Participants in 5 out of 6 datasets were randomly selected across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Quantitative and qualitative data were triangulated for in-depth analysis and results computed.
Some key findings from the study suggest overall lower perception of risk of COVID-19 in the second wave compared to the first and this was associated with increased risky behaviour. Risk perception was lowest in the southern parts of the country compared to the north during both waves with the southwest geopolitical zone having the lowest perception of risk for COVID-19. Gender, marital status, educational status, employment status and geopolitical zone of residence are factors that influenced perception of risk of COVID-19 in Nigeria during the first and second waves. In examining challenges that Nigerians faced during the lockdown, the study revealed that most Nigerians are likely to run out of food, money and medical prescriptions if a lockdown exceeds seven days.
The importance of public trust as a driver of compliance to COVID-19 preventive measures was also highlighted by the study. See link to the lay report for more information on the study’s findings – https://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng/media/files/Approved_Lay_Report.pdf.
Over eighteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have had to make tough decisions to sustain the COVID-19 response. The Federal Government of Nigeria has continued to institute measures to ensure a balance between preserving lives and livelihoods while addressing the socio-economic disruptions caused by the outbreak. In addition to presenting the study results, the dissemination meeting provided an opportunity for critical stakeholders to discuss how the important findings can enable relevant authorities navigate the COVID-19 response.
Given NCDC’s role as Nigeria’s National Public Health Institute, we
remain committed to utilising recommendations from the project to improve the COVID-19 response and strengthen health security for the future. This includes strengthening risk communication and community engagement across the states of the country by leveraging trusted voices; engaging in activities that will improve public trust which in turn could improve compliance to public health and social measures.
The NCDC is Nigeria’s national public health institute, with the mandate to lead the preparedness, detection and response to public health emergencies. The Bill for an Act to establish NCDC was signed into law in November 2018, by President Muhammadu Buhari. The mission of the NCDC is ‘To protect the health of Nigerians through evidence-based prevention, integrated disease surveillance and response, using a One Health approach, guided by research and led by skilled workforce’.