The Ensign College of Public Health (ECOPH) located at Kpong, Engage Now Africa (ENA) and Health2Go (H2Go), are joining efforts together with community stakeholders within over eight (8) selected communities in Ghana to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These communities are located in six (6) different municipalities/districts across three (3) administrative regions (the Ashanti, Eastern, and Volta regions).
Distribution of interventional materials of an initial four thousand (4000) face masks to the vulnerable in society, public education materials alongside continued community engagement on adherence to COVID-19 prevention protocols underlie the team project dubbed: “COVID-19 Behavioural Change Project”.
This initiative is based on the understanding that, individual and community collective behavioural change is key to preventing the spread of the disease as there is no cure to the disease as at now.
Several scientific publications emphasize rapid and widespread behavioural change as the critical element in reducing transmission of the virus.
The people of Mafi-Dove, a community in the Central Tongu District of the Volta Region; Sewaba in the Asokore Mampong Municipality and H2GO communities of the Atwima Nwabiagya North district; Suhum Niifio in the Suhum Municipal of the Eastern Region were engaged on 6th August, 2020 to educate them on the novel Coronavirus, the need for adherence to these protocols and the need for behavioural change.
Since the first two cases were recorded in Ghana on March 12th,2020, despite Government’s continued efforts, there has been an upsurge to over 41,000 confirmed cases and 215 deaths.
Madam Cecilia Amankwah, the Country Director of Engage Now Africa (ENA), disclosed that, ECOPH/ENA/H2GO were in Mafi-Dove some time back to conduct a baseline survey to understand how the people in the community were actually responding to COVID-19 prevention protocols.
After the survey, according to her, they realized that there were so many things the people were not aware of with regards to COVID-19, and so the need to educate them on adherence to the necessary protocols to protect themselves from the deadly coronavirus pandemic and also provide them with some items they could use to protect themselves from contracting the virus.
She added that, they will keep coming to the community and their resident-based facilitators would be around to continue to sensitize the community members to keep practicing the protocols in order to stay alive.
“We want them to know that we love them. COVID-19 is real; it’s really killing a lot of people and affecting people’s economic activities and other things, so we want you to take the virus very seriously and protect yourselves from it by observing the protocols,” she added.
Dr. Edward Kofi Sutherland, the Medical Director and Faculty at the Ensign College of Public Health (ECOPH), mentioned that, their coming was to make the people aware of the need for a behavioral change as a necessary tool in curtailing the spread and the ravaging effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said that COVID-19 has thrown the whole world out of gear, and that there are ways to prevent the virus from spreading widely, i.e, according to him; observing the necessary protocols such as washing of hands under running water regularly, applying alcohol-based sanitizers to hands, wearing of nose masks, practicing social distancing, no shaking of hands among others.
He said the, “Team Archimedes Project” is aimed at partnering with communities to increase awareness levels of the disease and get residents to change behaviour by observing the laid out protocols.
He again mentioned that, they are leveraging with the community stakeholders with the understanding that, the task is enormous, and therefore, requires a joint effort to be able to achieve a lot through educating the people on COVID-19, its related issues and also stop its spread.
“To be able to fight against the disease, it has to start from you and me. We all have a role to play,” he said.
Dr. Reuben Esena, another faculty member of Ensign College of Public Health (ECOPH), in his delivery, said the novel Coronavirus has had a serious adverse effect on the economy, social life and everything, so constant education must be going on, especially in the rural areas, for people to know that the disease is not something to be taken so lightly, rather with all the seriousness it deserves.
After the education, the participants were given nose masks, flyers, posters among other materials to help fight against the virus. Receiving the items, Hon. Moses Kwasi AwukuviDanyevor, the Assembly Member of Mafi-Dove Electoral Area, thanked the organizers for their kind gesture and promised to join hands with them to fight against the Coronavirus disease.
Agu Rebecca, one of the participants said she does not know the virus is all that serious. To her, it was all lies when people said the virus was in the country, but through the help of the organizers, she now has a better insight into how deadly the virus is, and how imperative it is for one to observe the protocols. There were about 200 people in attendance.