With the gradual increase in COVID-19 infections and death cases in Kenya, the imposed restrictions such as the lockdown and dusk to dawn curfews have greatly affected daily routines and livelihoods. This, as in other countries, has directly and indirectly impacted on the feelings, moods and fears of people, resulting to adaptive behaviors and coping mechanisms.
World Friends in partnership with Ruaraka Uhai Neema Hospital, University of Milan and the IRCCS Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri were compelled to conduct an anonymous survey to gauge the perception and impact of COVID-19 in the informal settlements of North-East Nairobi where majority of the beneficiaries of World Friends projects reside. Data was collected by Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) in order to guide interventions aimed at improving some aspects of the quality of life especially for people living in vulnerable conditions.
COVID-19 has resulted to challenges such as job losses, reduced earnings and temporary layoffs in both formal and informal sectors, consequently worsening food security, poverty and the access to basic services such as healthcare and the availability of water and sanitation by the vulnerable community members.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare system in Kenya has always had challenges in managing both primary and secondary health services and needs. Indeed, prior respiratory conditions and chronic illnesses such as asthma and tuberculosis or non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and sickle cell that already lack of proper assistance are among the major risk factors of COVID-19 infection. This has also led to increased stigma both from the community as well as Healthcare Providers.
The aim of the interviews was to explore the psychological impact of quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya, taking into consideration its likely effects on psychological wellbeing and the factors that contribute to or mitigate these effects.
The survey helped in the identification of vulnerable situations and emerging needs and facilitated in the response to the identified needs. The data was collected in the past two months and will be analyzed with the support of the Mario Negri Institute and we hope it will guide interventions aimed at improving the quality of life for the people.