Public perceptions of government policies to COVID-19: A comparative study in six African countries.

Publication date: Feb 15, 2024

The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected countries across the world, including those in Africa. Governments in these countries have implemented various policies to curb the spread of the virus. However, the effectiveness of these policies largely depends on how the public perceives them. This study aims to investigate public perceptions of government policies regarding COVID-19 in six African countries by conducting a sentiment analysis of the public. The motivation behind this study relies in the recognition that a deeper understanding of public perceptions is essential for crafting effective strategies that resonate with the diverse needs and concerns of the population, ultimately contributing to the ongoing global efforts to navigate the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic. We collected tweets related to COVID-19 and government policies on Twitter’s API from March 07, 2020 to February 02, 2022. We performed data processing steps such as tokenization and stop-word removal to clean the data. Next, we used Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques to classify the sentiment of each tweet as positive, negative, or neutral. The six African countries selected for this study are Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, and Uganda. We collected 134,494 tweets on Twitter accounts and we evaluated policies by countries in three categories: while some countries implemented too strict policies, others implemented strict or relaxed policies. The findings of this study will provide valuable insights into how the public perceived the policies. This is used to advice policymakers and public health officials on enhancing their messaging and policies to combat the spread of COVID-19 effectively. Data showed heterogeneous reactions with negative perceptions, for instance, earlier, different governments implemented face mask and lockdown policies and vaccination policy later. Researchers and policymakers should exercise caution and consider complementary data sources and methods to ensure a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of public perceptions in the context of government policies related to COVID-19; also, investigate how government policies during the pandemic may have affected the environment, such as changes in pollution levels, waste management, and conservation efforts.

Concepts Keywords
Pandemic COVID-19
Policymakers Government policies
Relaxed Public perceptions
Rwanda Sentiment analysis
Twitter Twitter

Semantics

Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19
disease VO effectiveness
disease VO effective
disease VO population
drug DRUGBANK Alpha-1-proteinase inhibitor
disease VO vaccination

Original Article

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