Save the Children is rolling out critical health and hygiene messages in some of the hardest to reach communities in Sudan to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. More photos are available here.
A fleet of Save the Children vehicles equipped with loudspeakers and signboards have moved through North Darfur and Kordofan in Sudan this week, sharing messages about handwashing, social distancing and other ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Save the Children recruited a local drama group to bring life and animation to the messages, which are also being played on local radios as well as fixed loudspeakers.
In front of a hospital in Kordofan, Save the Children demonstrated social distancing while distributing leaflets on COVID-19 prevention. The teams also posted banners on walls and broadcast messages on loudspeakers.
The agency is also partnering with a location telecommunications company, Zain-Sd, to send SMS cards with COVID-19 awareness messages across Sudan in coming days. Zain-Sd has the highest number of subscribers of any telecom company in Sudan, and it’s expected the messages will reach over five million people by the end of next week.
Save the Children is working closely with the Sudanese Ministry of Health to distribute facemasks and hand sanitizers to all health facilities in the region, with 1200 masks distributed and 1200 litres of sanitizer procured to date. The agency is also working with the Ministry of Health to establish isolation centres to ensure people who test positive to the virus can recover at a safe distance from the rest of the community.
Save the Children’s Country Director in Sudan, Arshad Malik, said:
“Our teams are stepping up to the COVID-19 challenge and working around the clock to ensure children and their families gets the right information to stay safe and healthy. This is a massive endeavour, in some of the most remote parts of Sudan and I’m proud of my team in what they’ve achieved so far.”
“But there is still much more to be done. Across Africa and the world, accurate and age-appropriate information is key to prevention, and yet in so many places these messages are not coming through. Children and their families need to understand what causes the illness – and what doesn’t – and the steps they can take to keep themselves safe.”
Save the Children is urging all governments to take additional steps to ensure the right information reaches vulnerable communities before case numbers increase to potentially overwhelming levels, including practical measures like:
- Ensuring all communities have access to basic sanitary supplies like safe water and soap, as well as appropriate guidance on how to use them to halt the spread of the virus.
- Sharing accurate and age-appropriate COVID-19 prevention information with communities via national media and child-friendly press conferences;
- Ensuring children and families are aware of the need to practice social distancing and stay away from gathering places like workplaces, market places, or other areas on mass gatherings.
- Developing and rolling out clear, child-friendly public information campaigns to give children and their families the information they need to protect themselves from infection;
- Ensuring access to education for all children, even if schools are closed, for example by distance learning online or via radio
Combatting misinformation about COVID-19 that can increase anxiety and distress among children and adults.
Save the Children is rolling out this work with the support of European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). These prevention and response efforts are expected to support the Sudanese Ministry of Health.