Explaining Low-Risk Perception of Covid-19 Among Malawians
A Qualitative Analysis of Insights from Communities
Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate the risk perception of Covid-19 among Malawian community members and provide recommendations on how to enact more effective risk communication strategies to ensure higher levels of adherence to Covid-19 safety measures. Methods: Four UNICEF partner organisations working in Risk Communication and Community Engagement interviewed 319 community members from 14 of Malawi’s 28 districts regarding Covid-19 during home visits within the communities, and the responses were summarised into a compendium of insights (rumours, misconceptions, fears, expectations and suggestions regarding the nature of Covid-19 and its management). A rapid inquiry in the form of key informant interviews (KIIs) was conducted with nine health workers and community leaders who were directly occupied with Covid-19 health service provision and community mobilisation, to better understand possible reasons for the low efficacy of the risk communication strategies used. Data were then qualitatively analysed using IPA to establish recurring themes of the state of Covid-19 risk perception. Results: Findings showed that community members had a low-risk perception of Covid-19 stemming from several reasons, including misinformation and faulty attitudes about the pandemic, influences of political and socio-cultural factors, and less effective risk communication and community engagement which did not resonate with the target groups on influencing risk perception.