By Goodluck Musinguzi

Hope against hope is what many patients with coronavirus are going through but the public is more interested in bad news. They say no one has died, they are feeding us fake Covid-19 results, let us open up few people will die and the rest will survive etc.

A new study involving more than 1,000 people across 17 countries spanning every continent but Antarctica concludes that, on average, people pay more attention to negative news than to positive news.

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, hint that this human bias toward negative news might be a large part of what drives negative news coverage.

But the results also revealed that this negative bias was not shared by everyone, and some even had a positive bias — a sign that there may be a market for positive news.

Uganda’s Top Civil Servant at Ministry of Health Dr Diana Atwine has assured health workers to ignore negative news because their calling is bigger than that.

“Some people are always mocking our work, saying we fake results to make money. This demoralizes the efforts of our front-workers who risk their lives to save others,” Atwine said.

Dr Diana Atwine said while discharging 44 #COVID19 patients from Entebbe Grade-B Hospital. 43 of these were truck drivers and 1 was a contact. These were treated, recovered and tested negative twice for COVID-19. The total number of COVID-19 recoveries is 486.

“I give God the glory. Its not because we are superstars in treating these diseases but it’s his mercy that out of over 700 cases, we haven’t registered any death. We thank all our staff for this. They are confined here away from their families to stay and care for these patients”.

She said when we treat and heal, no one talks about it. When any thing goes wrong during our work, they forget the lives saved and this is what makes news. But let’s keep up the care, commitment and responsibility to our patients because for us its a calling. We are a special group.

Dr Diana Atwine said the public needs to appreciate its front line health workers for the good job done. Criticizing the Ministry of Health wont help because in other countries covid-19 is devastating communities.

“Some people are always mocking our work, saying we fake results to make money. This demoralizes the efforts of our front-workers who risk their lives to save others,” Atwine said.

The 44 recovered patients who were discharged on Thursday, bring to a total of 91 people who were discharged from Entebbe hospital this week, most of whom are truck-drivers.

“In a period during which news around the world is especially wrought with negativity, this subject is of obvious significance,” the study authors wrote.

Lead author Stuart Soroka, a political scientist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said he and his colleagues were interested in the psychology of negativity biases — the tendency for people to pay more attention to negative information than positive information — and the role it might play in shaping the news.

Among academics, one explanation for this bias was that “journalists were angry people and skeptics and they produced a bunch of negative content, and that was bad — as in bad for democracy and bad for people reading news,” Soroka said.

“Our suspicion was that the way news looked wasn’t purely a function of what journalists felt but more about what audiences responded to.”

There are some evolutionary reasons as to why negativity bias exists, the scientists pointed out. For one thing, it can be much riskier to ignore negative information (a storm is coming) than good news (a dog rescued a boy from a tree). Paying attention to negative news, the researchers said, is generally an effective survival strategy.

The researchers found that, on average, a slight majority of viewers demonstrated a bias toward more negative news. This largely held across countries and cultures, Soroka said.

However, the scientists also found that on an individual level, there seems to be a high level of variability in responses. Roughly 2 out of 5 participants showed either no bias toward negative news or a bias toward positive news.

This means that the old adage “If it bleeds, it leads” may no longer always apply, said Richard Lau, a political psychologist at Rutgers University who was not involved in the study.

Soroka suggested that it might mean that news outlets could shift the proportion of bad news to good news and still maintain an audience.

“It’s not the case that most people want mostly negative news all the time,” Soroka said. “And knowing that, I think, opens up other possibilities where news is concerned.”

With the above findings, Uganda’s Ministry of Health praising the health workers as ‘heroes’ because they have handled cases amidst many challenges.
“Am proud of health workers in Uganda, thank you all our staff for sacrificing being with your families and stay in confinement to care for patients.

Mulago National Referal Hospital officially saw off the UPDF medical team that supported the fight against #COVID19 through screening, testing, treatment and caretaking.

Let’s appreciate our Ministry of Health Team, Mulago, Entebbe Hospital, UPDF, Makerere University, Civil Aviation Authority, Infectious Disease Control Centre, Uganda Police Force, IDI, and all other key players in this fight. Let’s escalate the fight to the Districts, concentrating on various Points of Entry into the country, Dr Diana Atwine said.

About Goodluck Musinguzi

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