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Using community engagement for effective case isolation and contact tracing

The Accra Metropolitan Area is one of the districts in the Greater Accra Region which first reported community transmission of COVID-19 on March 25, 2020. As the number of cases kept increasing and stigmatization became more apparent, the challenges of case isolation and contact tracing also worsened.

A few of the challenges we encountered whilst on the field were: Refusal of case-patients to accept their results, Community resistance to isolation of case-patients which was manifested through agitation and harassment of health workers and stigmatization of persons who tested positive for COVID-19

In order to overcome these challenges, we strategized to use the community members as the main agents for change. We identified the community leaders and engaged them to understand the nature of the disease and the need for case isolation and contact tracing. We identified a community opinion leader who bought into our plan and served as a translator to the health team.

We educated the community in their local language using health workers from the community and the opinion leader as the focal persons. As part of educating and sensitizing the community on COVID-19 pandemic, we provided the community with hand washing facilities (Veronica buckets, soap and paper towels).

The result of our engagement with the community yielded very positive results and made our work

relatively seamless. The community members formed a task force under the leadership of their

leaders to locate persons who test positive and persuade them to comply with isolation measures.

The community members have since gained confidence in the health workers and have willingly

volunteered to test, accept the test results and comply with isolation measures. Overall, community acceptance of COVID-19 surveillance has increased as evident in percentage acceptance of test results from 15% to 90%.