The Covid-19 pandemic initially detected in Nigeria in February 2020 continues to affect more people with 172,263 cases
YOLA, Nigeria: As part of effort to mitigate against the worrisome early signs of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, the Adamawa State Government in partnership with the World Health Organization has embarked on community sensitization campaigns across five Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state to increase risk messages about the COVID-19 and dispel associated misinformation including about the vaccine.
The Covid-19 pandemic initially detected in Nigeria in February 2020 continues to affect more people with 172,263 cases including 2139 deaths by 28 July 2021. In Adamawa State, 1,134 cases including 32 deaths have been reported as 28 July 2021. Despite reported cases, misinformation about the COVID-19 virus and vaccinations continue to spread consequently affecting the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine by the public. To dispel the rumour, the State Ministry of Health (MoH), through the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (ADSPHCDA), and support from with WHO from April to June, worked with selected community resource groups in the five LGAs from April to June 2021. T they visited a total of 229 settlements and educated 57,254 males and 75,883 females respectively.
“The collaboration with the WHO has created a huge impact in our drive to raise community awareness on COVID19. It also dispels rumours associated with the uptake of the vaccine in the state. We plan to expand the scope of this activity to other LGAs in the state.
“To reinforce our efforts and messages, we are also working with the mass media, that is, radio and television, religious and traditional leaders”, said Dr Bashir Sulaiman, the Executive Chairman, ASPHCDA
As of June 2020, 21,096 households with 108,345 community members in five Covid-19 high-risk LGAs (Girei, Mubi North, Mubi South, Yola North and Yola South) received education about Covid-19, as well as the importance of the vaccine.
A resident of Badrisa settlement in Girei LGA and a retired director of nursing in the Adamawa State Hospital Management Board, Mr Anjikwi welcomed the initiative saying the sensitization campaign enlightened many people on issues regarding COVID-19 prevention and control.
“There is little awareness of Covid-19 in the communities. Many people around here are still sceptical about the disease, but with the advent of this personnel moving strategically from house to house, I believe people will understand better as the women conducting this activity are very friendly and are passing the message across genuinely. When they came to my house, they were very clear and precise in their messages while using the local language and very well demonstrated some practices,” said Mr Anjikwi.
Similarly, a housewife in Doubeli ward, Yola North LGA, Hajiya Amina Ibrahim, said that the COVID-19 enlightenment campaign is an eye-opener for most women in her settlement because it gave them a better understanding of what they have been watching on the television.
“I watch those things on television, but I usually regarded them as mere drama until when I interacted with those women. They taught us how to wash our hands, use facemasks and hand sanitisers. To protect my household, I will ensure my children observe the COVID-19 prevention measures at home, when out to school and in their day to day functions,” added Mrs Ibrahim.
Meanwhile, a nomadic Fulani, Alhaji Abdu Musa, urged the government to expand the scope of the campaign to people living in remote areas.
He stated that the campaign changed his perception of Covid-19 because he did not believe it exists.
“I will educate my people about the disease. I also urge the government to send personnel to the settlement for better enlightenment, he added.
Commenting on the success of the campaigns, the team lead, Ms Ndatam Ndawalam, commended the State and WHO for adopting the strategy. She said it was effective in passing across the relevant messages about the Covid-19 pandemic to the communities.
“It gave an insight into the key concerns of the communities – lack of trust in the vaccine, fear of disability, lack of understanding of the causes, symptoms and preventive measures”, she said.
To ensure successful campaigns, the WHO support the state government by providing logistics and allowances for the community health volunteer teams in the five LGAs. During the campaign, the teams used a multi-pronged community-based strategy adopting an inter-personal communication approach as they moved from settlement to settlement, targeting households, churches, tsangayas, Islamiyya Schools, street joints (Majalisa).
The volunteers sensitized households and other community members on COVID-19 using well-designed job aids such as posters, flip charts that carried educative messages as well as conducting practical demonstrations to deliver key messages. Prior to the campaign, the volunteers were trained on how to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines while doing their jobs.