Mismedication as COVID-19 pandemic response of rural folks: Implications for national COVID-19 response policy of Lesotho
Keywords:COVID-19 pandemic, misinformation, mismedication, protection motivation theory, rural folks, medicinal herbs
COVID-19’s super-spread nature, its adverse impacts, and the associated public fear and panic have resulted in the use of “dangerous” substances and medicinal herbs (mismedication), particularly in rural parts of Africa. Exploring the phenomenon of mismedication is crucial for promoting effective public health policies. This study adopted a qualitative study design and purposively selected and interviewed 50 rural folks cutting across the 10 districts of Lesotho in Southern Africa. The study’s findings show that rural folks perceive a high vulnerability to the COVID-19 virus. They also consider COVID-19 a dangerous virus and have high fear arousal of contracting the virus. It was realized that rural folks resort to unreliable sources of information on COVID-19 pandemic, such as friends and family members, social media, village members, and grandchildren. These untrustworthy sources spread a lot of misinformation about COVID-19, causing fear and panic among rural residents. To remedy the spread of the pandemic, its impact, and the underlying public fear and panic, rural dwellers have resorted to the use of unapproved medicinal plants. Trust in unapproved medicinal plants influences rural dwellers’ compliance to the standard protocols implemented to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study recommends the urgent need to intensify scientific investigation into the various medicinal plants for their efficacy, side effects, preparation, and approved dosage. Again, effective public education on the efficacy and dangers associated with the use of unapproved medications must be strengthened, particularly in rural communities through the active participation of opinion, traditional, and religious leaders.
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