Nigerian government, donor partners begin coronavirus behavioural change campaign

Director General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu addressing the press at the presentation of 15,000 COVID-19 test kits to NCDC by UNICEF in Abuja on Tuesday, Sept 29, 2020. [Twitter-@NCDCgov]

The federal government has launched a four-month awareness campaign on the need to sustain the observance of non-pharmaceutical protocols meant to check further spread of COVID-19 virus in the country.

The campaign, which was known as the “National Behaviour Change Campaign on COVID-19,” was unveiled yesterday by the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu.

Ihekweazu said that the aim is to explore ways of achieving positive behavioural change that would make the people to adhere to simple public health and social measures targeted at containing COVID-19 pandemic disease.

He stated that the campaign, which is being undertaken by federal government in collaboration with the United Nations (UN), is funded by the European Union (EU).

The campaign, which is tagged “Powerful Hands,” is aimed at stimulating collective action that would prevent further spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria. Two hotspots local government areas in six states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Abuja, would be the focus of the awareness campaign.

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The states are Lagos, Rivers, Kano and FCT are among the areas being targeted by the campaign.

Ihekweazu said that the objective is to increase the number of Nigerians who would practice preventive behaviours.

He said that the current global statistics showed that confirmed cases of COVID-19 have risen to 160 million while 3.3 million have died as a result.

“In Nigeria, we have currently recorded over 165,000 confirmed cases and over 2,000 deaths. A statistics which we usually do not highlight enough is the number of discharged cases we have.

“There have been over 150,000 cases discharged. These discharged cases are an indicator of progresses being made in the health system amongst other factors,” he said.

Ihekweazu said that the awareness campaign would be important in addressing complacency that has set in among Nigerians and keep citizens constantly aware of the dangers posed by non-observance of the hygiene and non-pharmaceutical protocols needed to check COVID-19 spread.

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The director general said that behavioural change is essential if the country would sustain the gains so far recorded in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: “While diagnostic tests can speed up the confirmation of positive COVID-19 cases, medications relieve us of symptoms, and vaccines can build up our immunity, our behaviours are equally as impactful and important.”

The Representative of the Head of the European Union Delegation in Nigeria, Ambassador Ketil Karisen, said that 8 billion Euros out of 58.5 billion Euros raised by the EU to tackle COVID-19 pandemic globally was devoted to assisting African countries to contain the COVID-19 virus.

Also the Country Representative of the UNICEF, Mr. Peter Hawkins, described the project as a media-driven one, adding that its success would depend on the ability of the government to collaborate with the media.

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