The virtue of selflessness and compassion is deeply rooted in human conscience, and in many instances result from socio-cultural influences and life experiences. One such life experience of the twenty-first century is the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is a hard lesson and has certainly invoked the relevance of prosocial behavior and its compliance. Prosocial behavior encompasses the actions intended to help others. It is a part of natural human biology and ingrained conditioning of some religious practices.
As the global community struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, mass vaccination campaigns, mask-up campaigns have been launched. The slogan about wearing a mask and its protective effect is jingling in all forms of media. The pandemic has become a massive collection of statistics. With different festivities, markets, public places, transportation systems bust with a flock of people. Travel increases, and so the possibility of the infection spreading. The scientific community is attempting and navigating a way out. However, we must get a grip of ”the spread”,as another variant Omicron is on the scene.
Important however non-compliance..
Following the public health intervention of SMS (Social/Physical distancing, washing with soap/sanitizer, and wearing a mask to cover nose and mouth) is the most cost-effective way tobreak the chain of transmission. It is the most popular anthem or agenda of the twenty-first century. SMS is a prosocial behavior indeed and saves lives by limiting the spread. Studies showed that it will also help keep the effects of vaccinations lasting for a longer period. Thus, Governments all over the world are instilling such messages in their citizens, urging them to accept it as a civil responsibility. Some have enacted strict rules with penalties for violations.But it is difficult to persuade the public to act accordingly. People tend to forget and become lax. They must be reminded of the importance of maintaining the prosocial behavior as it is undeniable that the world is still on the verge of a pandemic. Anticipation could be a win over negligence at this moment.
Wearing a mask could be promoted as a respectful cultural emblem or fashion statement, allowing people of all ages and cultures to easily relate to and practice. Celebrities or local promoters can be role models for appealing to the public to help establish community norms for adopting protective practices. Sanitizer, soap, water should be made available to maintain hand hygiene at public places. It is time to become aware of our own behaviors and practices as well.
Researchers haveemphasized that it is critical to understand how the public perceives the risk of a pandemic and how this may relate to the adoption of protective behaviors such as mask-wearing and physical distancing. At various times, the public may have understated or overestimated (panicked) the actual risk. Therefore, the development of evidence-based risk communication is essential. The risk communication strategy must be improved and made more innovative. The public reacts differently to the pandemic, while some follow public health measures and obey, others do not. As a result, compliance must be monitored. Barakat et al.,2020, suggested that tailored communication strategies can increase preventive health behaviors. So, developing communication materials, media as per different cultural settings could increase preventive behaviors.
Every individual is an integral part in the prevention process and plays a key role in reducing morbidity and mortality. Adoption and compliance of protective health behavior by the public is a challenging issue in the current context of urgency.As global citizens, it is our responsibility to be precautious and comply with them to protect ourselves and others. It is a civil and moral obligation to practice SMS, and it makes a significant contribution to the socio-economic equation of this pandemic on behalf of the global citizens.Let SMS be an easy-to-usetool for everyone in their respective settings. Let the difficult lessons we’ve learned set us on a new path to save the world. Let SMS be the prosocial behavior, a new norm, or agenda to which we can adhere to navigate through this pandemic, minimizing the potential damages in health and all sectors.
- Dr. RojeenaTamrakar, Ministry of Health and Population
- Suresh Shah, USAID’s Strengthening Systems for Better Health Activity
(Both are public health professionals working for COVID-19 response)