“People Are Not Taking the Outbreak Seriously”: Interpretations of Religion and Public Health Policy During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Johnson GA., Martin S., Vanderslott S., Matuvanga TZ., Mavoko HM., Mulopo PM., Togun E., Ogundipe O., Sangoleye D., Udokanma E., Huapaya VC.
Religious interpretations of the pandemic have shaped both policy and popular perceptions of COVID-19. This has important implications for the contexts in which healthcare workers (HCWs) delivered care. This chapter uses the case studies of Pakistan, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to examine how religion and policy-in the context of an infectious disease pandemic-were interpreted as either restrictive to personal freedoms, or supportive of public health practices to control disease spread. Data was generated through interviews conducted with HCWs, analysis of social media conversations, and policy reviews. How the pandemic manifested in these nations reinforces one crucial public health message-religion plays a critical social role in public health and disease control.