Public Trust in COVID-19 Prevention and Responses Between January and May 2020 in Bangladesh
Hassan Khamis, Amar
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Background and Aims: Although the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) developed some policy initiatives during the first phase of COVID-19, their efforts were questioned due to indecision, late policy decisions and implementation, and a proliferation of fake testing and fake news. As such, this research aims to examine public trust in preparedness and response measures undertaken by both the GoB and private sector organisations in Bangladesh between January and May 2020. Methods: A cross-sectional survey method was applied to a sample of Bangladeshi residents using a questionnaire distributed between April and June 2020. Three hundred and seven respondents participated in an online questionnaire that was disseminated on online outlets, such as e-mail, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. The survey questionnaire was distributed to potential respondents, and continuous-chain messages were provided. Data were analyzed using exploratory factor analysis (EFA). Findings: Of the 307 participants, 77% were male and 23% were female. Findings suggest that the participants showed greater approval of private sector responses than of governmental preparedness and response activities. For preparedness activities, participants were negative about both the GoB efforts to organize and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors in time as a safeguard against COVID-19, and also the lack of coordination and informed decision-making in relation to facing COVID-19. Respondents were asked to share their perception of the suitability of GoB pandemic management plans, as evidenced by plan effectiveness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Conclusion: A lower level of trust was demonstrated by the Bangladeshis with regard to preparedness and response measures taken in Bangladesh. Based on participants’ concerns and suggestions and a review of drawback of policy responses in the early stage, a set of recommendations are provided for future pandemics like public health emergency risk management in Bangladesh.