University of Nairobi COVID-19 Public Forum

The University held a public forum on COVID-19 on Thursday 12th March 2020 at the Chandaria Auditorium, UoN Towers.

The forum brought together staff, students and members of the public to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and potential solutions.

It was led by five panellists who are eminent personalities in their fields - Professor Omu Anzala (Virologist & Immunologist, Professor Salome Bukachi (Medical Anthropologist), Dr Pamela Godia (Public Health Specialist), Dr Joy Kiiru (Economist) and Dr Marybeth Maritim (Infectious Disease Physician). The discussion was moderated by Dr Moses Masika, a Virologist.

Professor Anzala highlighted the likelihood of viral infections from animals to cross-over to humans sporadically and emphasized the need for continuous surveillance using a one-health approach to human, animal and environmental assessments.

Professor Bukachi pointed out that we need to understand how different people perceive COVID-19 based on their cultural and social background and engage communities in designing contextualized and culturally sensitive control strategies. She also emphasized on the need for timely and consistent information and dialogue using trusted sources and channels

Dr Joy Kiiru underlined the need for social protection to cushion the most vulnerable, measures by government and banks to reduce liquidity constraints and the need to manage consumer expectations but communication of control measures in order to reassure the public and allay any fears.

 On the prevention measures, Dr Godia advised everyone to follow basic hand hygiene, protect others if coughing or sneezing by using disposable tissue or a flexed elbow and to clean surfaces regularly with soap and water. She also advised social distancing by staying at least one meter away from symptomatic persons and avoiding large gatherings or events. Non-essential travel should be avoided and those who have travelled were advised to self-quarantine for two weeks in order to protect others.

Dr Maritim reported that although there was no definitive cure for COVID-19, sick persons would be offered supportive treatment to manage their symptoms. She pointed out that most people with COVID-19 would only suffer mild to moderate illness with no need for serious medical interventions. Only four out of a hundred sick persons were likely to die. People at the greatest risk are the elderly and those with underlying conditions such as chronic lung and heart diseases. She advised anyone who may be exposed to COVID-19 through travel or interactions with a sick person to contact the ministry of health if they developed cough, fever or breathing difficulties.

The ministry of health has provided the following hotlines for people who need more information on COVID-19: 0800721316, 0732353535, 0729471414

School of Public Health, University of Nairobi - https://sphun.uonbi.ac.ke/

School of Economics, UoN - https://economics.uonbi.ac.ke/

Institute of Anthropology, Gender and  African Studies, UoN - https://african-studies.uonbi.ac.ke/basic-page/about-us

School of Medicine, UoN - https://med-school.uonbi.ac.ke/