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How I used advocacy skills learnt in Addis Ababa to educate people on COVID-19 in Ghana

I am Esmond Wedam Nonterah a Youth Leader for Health (YLH). YLH is a joint program by WACI health, RESULTS UK, Health Promotion Tanzania-HDT, Hope for Future Generation and CISMAT-Sierra Leone with support from Comic Relief, UK at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The program I attended in Addis Ababa in January 2020 represented one of the most interesting phase in my life. It came at an appropriate time as two months after that the raging fire of COVID19 swept the world killing people and shutting down economies. The program was meant to better our advocacy skills towards malaria.

However, with COVID19 still a topical issue, I used the advocacy I learned at the program to educate people on the need to prevent ourselves from contracting the virus.

COVID-19 has come as a surprise to everyone. As the virus rages on like wildfire, this is how I experienced:

The power of being human is our ability to adjust to situations and needs. Once upon a time, COVID19 was the craze in town and people avoided it like the plague it was but now after a while, COVID19 has become normalized, and as such people think less of it. This is the case now in Navrongo. Earlier, it was a lust for life but now people just want to go on with their personal lives and ignore the fear of COVID19 as if it was a bubble gum event.

COVID19 brought out innovation in people generally. When nose masks were sold at exorbitant prices, tailors took upon themselves to produce locally made nose masks from African wax print fabric. In some instances, it turned into a fashion statement and this embraced the support for the wearing of nose masks. Through the ingenious works of these tailors, nose masks turned from quasi hospital wear to something more of a fashion attachment.

Despite being a fashion accessory, the wearing of a nose mask is being seen as a burden. For instance, a met a lady in town not wearing a nose. When I asked her why she was not wearing one, she remarked that she was tired of wearing a nose mask and she felt they were uncomfortable to wear. I advised her on the need for her to wear nose masks always. I drew parallels to how the figures were increasing in exponential progression in Ghana due to the actions of people like her. She appreciated the point I made and immediately bought one just by to wear.

Veronica buckets gained popularity due to COVID19, these buckets were placed in vantage points like banks, mosques, markets and public places. In banks, security was insistent on people washing their hands before entering. I still see the buckets but the use of the buckets has been on diminishing returns. This is because the fear people have about the virus is on the descendency. The strict enforcement of the use of the bucket has been on the downward trend. In public places too, the use of infrared the money is becoming less pronounced as people are trying to adjust their lives to the virus.

Lastly, there are troops to the betting centers with the resumption of the football league. These centers draw huge crowds who can be careless in the spur of the moment of a victory or loss. These centers can be the epicenter of the spread of COVID19. These crowded places ignore social distancing protocol as these crowds are difficult to handle. I have seen videos of people here in recent times and I feel it is a cause for concern.

As an advocate and youth leader, I continue to observe, witness, and record the reactions of the public in these difficult times. Many questions remain unanswered

Are these masks made from fabric and with no filters truly effective?

Are people no longer afraid of death and accept it more as a part of life?

Why are our numbers going up rapidly?

Should we be on a partial lockdown or carry on as usual- markets open, restaurants open, football season starting, schools open, hairdressing salons?

COVID19 has gone from the Boogieman to the ghost no one cares about.

COVID-19 affects individuals regardless of their status in society and their nationality. The response to COVID-19 cannot leave anyone behind and the only effective protection must include everyone, as this is the only way to adopt efficient measures that help control the pandemic in the long-term.


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