Grassroots campaign key to ending virus spread
By Joseph Jibueze
With Nigerians becoming lax about contracting coronavirus despite the rising cases, the private sector Coalition Against COVID19 (CACOVID) has launched a grassroots mobilisation and enlightenment campaign.
With a mission to educate people on COVID-19, CACOVID flagged-off the pilot phase in Lagos and Rivers states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
It is taking the message of handwashing, social distancing and wearing of facemasks to the doorsteps in the rural and semi-urban communities to complement the government’s efforts.
A CACOVID communications coordinator, Tony Chiejina, said: “The realisation that our communication efforts so far have not successfully reached our semi-urban and rural communities triggered the CACOVID grassroots awareness and mobilisation campaign.
“It is designed to directly engage and address all of the misconceptions about COVID-19 and its transmission, as well as to encourage immediate adoption of safe personal hygiene practices.”
Since the flag-off in Lagos, Rivers and the FCT on June 8, the campaign train has made substantial gains as they continue to directly engage with the people.
In most of the communities visited, the teams corrected misinformation and false beliefs that alcoholic drinks, popularly called ogogoro, can cure the disease.
According to Chiejina, with measures by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and state governments to ease the lockdown and reopen the economy, there is the fear of an imminent spike in the number of cases.
The concern is that there would be community infections unless, as the PFT said, Nigerians take responsibility.
Like the PTF, CACOVID is worried that many people, especially in rural communities, still do not believe in the reality of the virus, and some who do act negligently.
It is concerned that people to go about their daily activities without regard to prescribed basic personal safety and hygiene protocols.
Chiejina said the scepticism is further fueled by the thinking that COVID-19 is a disease for the rich.
According to him, the need to flatten the curve through increase advocacy and enlightenment led to the grassroots awareness campaign.
In Lagos, the team has visited Ajah, Ogombo, Oko-Oba, Makoko, Okooba/Abattoir, Aginliti, Isawo, Mosafejo/Amukoko, with more lined up.
The team of campaigners, led by Arthur Chima, is traversing the state to engage with the suburban, rural and remote communities to spread the message of caution and responsibility.
The multidisciplinary team comprises about 20 health professionals. Armed with various instructional posters and banners, it has been supplementing CACOVID’s work as a sub-team.
Baale of Ifako, Chief Afolabi Akerele, believes there is the need for more sensitisation.
He said: “This kind of reminder is what we need at this time and we need it as often as possible.
“It is especially expedient for our senior citizens, mothers, aunties and all caregivers who may not have access to quality information from other sources to get the message from this platform and take action.”
A driver in Ifako, Jimoh Ifafiyebi, said though he did not know anyone who contracted the disease, he knew that COVID-19 is real.
Praising CACOVID for the awareness programme, he said: “This type of sensitisation is proof that the disease exists and it will convince some people to take responsibility and stay alive.”
Chima said as the team buses inch along the campaign trail, obvious gains of the exercise could be observed.
Folks who had only held their nose masks in their hands or pocket or hung them on their jaws were quick to wear them appropriately.
People complied with the message of the campaign theme song: ”Wash your hand, wash am well well, use your mask…”
Others joined in singing the theme song while many asked that posters underlining the importance of handwashing, social distancing and general hygiene, be pasted on their walls.
The story is same across Rivers as the campaign has reached communities in Abuloma, Bundu, Agbonchia, Omarelu, Onne, Elele and other parts.
In the FCT, the campaign train took the awareness drive to communities in Nyanya, Kutunku, Mpampe, Gwarinpa and Kubwa.
Nigeria has reported at least 17,735 cases with 11,299 active cases and 469 deaths as of Wednesday, a day 587 new cases were recorded.
CACOVID is a private-sector task force in partnership with the Federal Government, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the sole aim of combating Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria.
It is tasked with pulling resources across industries to provide technical and operational support while providing funding and building advocacy through aggressive awareness drives.
In addition to the efforts of the Federal government, the Coalition is providing and equipping medical facilities in the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.
This will involve the creation of testing, isolation and treatment centres, and include the provision of Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and molecular testing labs.
It has so far provided testing supplies and isolation and treatment centres in Lagos (500 beds), Kano (500 beds), Rivers (210 beds), Abuja (200 beds), Enugu (200 beds) and 100 beds in all the other states.
CACOVID’s funding committee comprises Godwin Emefiele, Aliko Dangote, Herbert Wigwe, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Femi Otedola, Folorunso Alakija, Jim Ovia, John Coumantaros, Raj Gupta, Segun Agbaje, Tony Elumelu, Modupe Alakija and Folorunso Alakija.
It has a technical committee responsible for intellectual leadership around testing issues, treatment protocols, isolation centres, amongst others; and an operational committee responsible for project management, logistics and communication.
Grassroots campaign key to ending virus spread