Covid-19: Enlist villagers

THE awareness levels on COVID-19 in villages and outlying areas of the country need to be up-scaled through effective sensitization programmes.
It is important to be proactive and boost sensitisation programmes in villages and far-flung areas so that the ravaging COVID-19 can be kept away from these areas.
Certainly, it is not pleasant to imagine the rapid speed with which the pandemic can spread across villages in an event that the contamination reaches these locations.
The health systems in the countryside are not as strong while literacy levels are low, thus making inhabitants in such areas highly susceptible to COVID-19 attack.
This is why a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Response Network (RN), has rolled out a sensitization programme to villages in Kazungula, Livingstone and Zimba districts, reaching out to information-starved villagers.
Response Network has trained 23 volunteers who have since been dispatched to villages in Kuyaba, Simwatachela, Sipatunyana chiefdoms and other areas to sensitise the villagers about the Covid-19.
This is a very a noble and proactive move because villagers have insufficient information about the deadly disease, firstly, because television and radio networks have not reached all parts of the rural outposts.
Secondly, literacy levels in villages are not at their best while some inhabitants view the pandemic from a remote standpoint, as none of their own has been affected to date.
Therefore, more of the NGOs should emulate RN and replicate the initiative to other parts of the country.
Evidently, sensitisation programmes have mostly been active in the urban areas so is testing and screening exercise.
There are so many NGOs in the country that have unfortunately gone mute in the face of rising figures of COVID-19.
This is an opportune time for NGOs to enhance their advocacy and awareness programmes because COVID-19 is not only a health problem; it has also impacted on the economic and social strata of the country.
Economic, social and other activities have slowed down not only in the urban areas, but also in the rural areas.
Villages in particular, could be the hardest hit if the pandemic lingered its ugly presence there.
In fact, many villagers opt for other forms of treatment as opposed to getting treated in conventional health facilities.
This means, therefore, that some villagers may not present themselves before health personnel if they experience any symptoms of COVID-19.
It is also true that people in outlying areas have been fed with misleading information about the pandemic.
With inaccurate information circulating all around, it is highly likely that it has reached villagers who will resist getting to the clinic owing to sensetionalised and alarming information.
There is information circulating that if one is taken to an isolation centre, they lose all their rights and freedoms and that their chances of getting back to their families are slim.
Such inaccuracies should be expunged immediately and this can effectively be achieved through raising awareness in all areas.
Government alone cannot manage to reach out to the breadth and length of the country.
NGOs, therefore, must design awareness programmes to encompass chiefs, village headmen and community leaders such as ward councillors, who are close to the people.
Messages should be crafted in a professional and an attractive manner to have a positive impact on the recipients.


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