COVID 19 cases in Malawi continue to rise whilst the disease perception continues to suffer a tragic paradox. This is despite the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders disseminating COVID 19 messages.
This development has forced a group of University Students in the health sector to join the fight against COVID 19 with an initiative dubbed COVID 19 Community Mass Awareness Campaign (CCOMAC). The students under CCOMAC banner have been drawn from University of Malawi’s College of Medicine, Kamuzu College of Nursing, Catholic University, Malamulo College of Nursing, among others.
The Chairperson for the grouping, Mackson Zephaniah argues that COVID 19 was initially perceived as a dreadful disease when there were only three cases in the country but now the disease perception is inversely proportional to the increasing cases.
“Most people think that COVID 19 is a joke, a political gimmick and even doubting its existence. These misconceptions and the dwindling trust in the health system is poisonous and have the tendency to frustrate the precaution measures put in place by the ministry of Health,” said Zephaniah in an interview.
Zephaniah said that research has proven that interventions are only effective when they are people tailored and enhance community participation. He then pointed out that it is for this reason that they are endeavoring to give back to their society by feeding the people with correct information hence righting the existing misconceptions on COVID 19.
“COVID 19 is not going away today or tomorrow hence a need for a new consolidative message—health behavior change towards COVID 19. Just as we adopted the usage of mosquito nets in the fight against Malaria, we need to maintain COVID 19 preventive measures for instance hand washing, social distancing and no handshakes among others. “They should be part of our lives; they should be our habitual behavior. This is in keeping with the health model “Precaution Adoption Process Mode” (PAPM) that our initiative has deployed,” said Zephaniah.
The committee is working to make sure that students in the health sector in our localities are provided with necessary materials so they can be in a position to carry out awareness campaigns. The materials needed include; posters, brochures, a vehicle, however small, installed with a sound system popularly known as “Chinkuza mawu”.
CCOMAC have rolled out the awareness campaign and have so far covered parts of area 25, Senti, Dzenza, Kawale, Chillinde, area 23, Nanjiri, Nathenje, Kamphata and Nkhoma.
“We thank the Lilongwe Asian Community for funding the initial phase of the project and we would like to appeal to Government, Non-Governmental Organizations, Individuals and other relevant stakeholders to invest in our in our project so we, as young people in the health sector, can also play a role in keeping our country safe by means of sensitizing our people on preventive measures of this pandemic,” said Zephaniah.
Taking his turn, CCOMAC Treasure General, Mwayiwawo Nkhumbwa, hailed the model they have devised to sensitize our people on covid19 saying it is cost efficient and effective.
“This project is one of the most efficient and cost-effective projects in this time of COVID 19 and we believe that it can benefit the whole Malawi if launched on a larger scale” he said.
CCOMAC’s Secretary General, Steve Mlangiza, also heaped praise to Malawi’s premier mobile phone operator, Telecommunication Network of Malawi (TNM), for the confidence reposed in them, who while on a funding soliciting exercise for this project, were requested to voluntarily train Security Guards on how to use Infrared thermometers as COVID 19 screening tool.
For those who may want to support this project to be rolled out on a larger scale, the Chairperson, said can reach them on the following contacts: Email address; firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or Call/WhatsApp +265 993 627 533 and/or +265 884 880 590.