As the pandemic spreads uncertainty and hardship around the world, the Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation (KAICT) in collaboration with partners launched the National COVID-19 Community awareness campaign in Monrovia.
KAICT is a specialized institute established by the University of Liberia in 2006 to serve as a center of excellence for producing the appropriate human capital required for national recovery.
The launch, held on Friday, June 26, 2020 in the Thinker’s Village Community in Paynesville, was intended to complement the government’s national response to COVID-19, by educating the community dwellers on signs and symptoms, prevention transmission and handling infection using a community-based approach.
The event brought together several community dwellers including youths and local leaders, and Montserrado County District#6 Representative Samuel Enders.
Prof. Debey Sayndee, Director of KAICT, who gave the overview of the launch and awareness campaign, said the community-based approach is one of the surest ways to combat the disease.
According to Prof. Sayndee, if communities take direct ownership of the fight against the global pandemic, the battle will soon be over.
Judging from the Ebola experience, the KAICT Director stated that communities and traditional leaders were instrumental in Ebola’s fight, and their roles are significant to the fight.
“If we can jointly defeat Ebola, we can still do it to coronavirus,” he said.
He, at the same time, admonished every Liberian to continue to adhere to the government’s health regulations.
He maintained that the measures put in place by health authorities in the country will mitigate the spread of the virus when observed.
The denial syndrome, Prof. Sayndee told the community dwellers, is one key factor undermining the effort against the COVID-19 pandemic in Liberia.
“People still deny the existence of the coronavirus with all the devastating effects. To change people’s mindset means that government and partners need to do more by localizing COVID-19 messages,” he said.
The KAICT’s awareness according to him is targeting more than 16,000 inhabitants in both Margibi and Montserrado counties.
Earlier, Montserrado County District #6 Representative, Samuel Enders, expressed gratitude to KAICT for such initiative and promised to engage community dwellers in spreading the message on COVID-19.
Representative Enders concluded with a caution that the COVID-19 issue should notbe politicized, reiterating that the disease outbreak is a threat to human life and “We all have a role to play in being vigilant to ensure that we control them effectively.”
Making remarks on behalf of the Director-General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Ms. Jane MaCauley, Deputy Director-General for Technical Services, hailed KAICT for organizing and creating awareness among citizens within the communities.
She said most of the complaints that “We get from the community is that people are not aware, they do not know whether COVID-19 is real and is actually in Liberia. But I have come to say today that COVID-19 is real and is on the rise in Liberia, and globally we have 9.6 million confirmed cases and also half a million deaths.”
In Liberia, Ms. McCauley informed the gathering that they there are more than 600 confirmed cases and about 34 deaths.
However, the NPHIL Director General for Technical Services said the only way to stop the spread of this virus is for every one of “us to follow the preventive measures put in place by health authorities.”
The University of Liberia Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Moses Zinnah, who launched the awareness campaign in Thinker’s Village, said Liberia can have all the best clinicians and doctors but to eradicate the virus dependence on us as citizens of this country.
“So as we engage you in this community, we ask that you serve as ambassadors to carryout anti-COVID-19 awareness to your people,” he said.
He cautioned the audience to avoid close contact with anyone who may be showing signs of an infection and to hand them a face mask before engaging them.
In separate remarks, participants lauded the KAICT and partners for the awareness and promised to carry anti-coronavirus messages in the communities.