Africa Moyo in KADOMA
Government has roped in more volunteer community health workers as it intensifies the fight against the spread of Covid-19, from grassroots level.
A two-day pre-deployment orientation and training of close to 100 volunteers and local rapid response teams for public health support measures against Covid-19, started here yesterday.
It focused on participants from Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Manicaland, Midlands and Harare provinces.
A similar orientation exercise was held in July for village health workers from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South provinces.
The community health workers have been equipped with thermometers, smart phones and airtime to enable them to immediately pass on essential information to Government.
Further, the health workers were provided with information on Covid-19 so that they can transmit accurate information on the pandemic.
Senior Government officials including the Director of Media Services in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Dr Anyway Mutambudzi, and Ministry of Health and Child Care director of epidemiology and disease control, Dr Portia Manangazira, together with officials from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, interacted with the community health workers who included headmen, ordinary citizens, pastors, faith healers and herbalists.
Targeted audiences in communities are persons with disabilities, schools, miners, cross-border traders, miners and farmers. Funerals will also be used as conduits for disseminating information pertaining to the pandemic to ensure its spread is contained.
Dr Mutambudzi said community health workers should follow news from Government officials so that they pass it on in their areas.
“Watch out for official information from Government to minimise the circulation of fake news,” said Dr Mutambudzi.
“As you go out there, be humble; go and introduce yourselves to community leaders such as political leaders including councillors, chiefs, headman and police officers.
“Tell them about the role you have been given. Schools are also a good conduit for conveying messages about the pandemic.”
Dr Mutambudzi advised the community health workers to respect relatives of the deceased and humbly ask for a few minutes to talk about the pandemic at the appropriate time. At the same time, the community health workers were advised to maintain patient confidentiality so that their work is not seen in bad light by other people.
He implored the media to continue informing the nation on the dangers of Covid-19 and how its spread can be curtailed. Crucially, media practitioners that attended the workshop were advised to take the fight against Covid-19 to their newsrooms.
Dr Mutambudzi said there was need to ensure social distancing, sanitisation and temperature checks in newsrooms.
Dr Manangazira said the community health workers have a lot to do as Covid-19 cases are rising again.
“It’s now up to you to convince neighbours to remain alert so as to prevent the continued spread of the disease.
“Wherever you are going now, know that funerals have become transmission amplification events. This is why we have engaged you,” said Dr Manangazira.
She added that preventive measures were important to ensure people continued to with their cultural practices and business ventures, albeit under controlled environments.
“We want you to work in communities and counter misinformation coming from sources that are not credible.
“Our surveillance for Covid-19 has been very good and as you join us, we expect the surveillance to improve.”
Africa CDC risk communication expert, Ms Sandra Machiri, said community health workers should encourage people to self-report suspected cases of Covid-19. She added that they should get the community’s concerns regards the abandonment of face masks and social distancing.
Ms Machiri pleaded with the community health workers to use appropriate channels of communication such as community sensitisation, interpersonal communication, edutainment and social media, to reach out more people.
Sekuru Friday Chisanyu said traditional healers had stopped some practices, among them, the removal of foreign objects from human bodies in order to minimise spread of Covid-19.