JUBA, South Sudan, March 31, 2020/ — A campaign raising awareness on the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and how best to protect yourself and your family, is being rolled out across South Sudan. Even though no case of COVID-19 is confirmed in South Sudan, preparations to protect South Sudan against the spread of the virus are underway- given the scale and scope of the worldwide outbreak.
The Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF, the World Health Organization and other partners have launched a nationwide risk communication campaign. The aim is to create awareness and mobilize communities on COVID-19 as part of the national risk communication, community engagement and social mobilization efforts, led by the Ministry of Health and UNICEF.
“While South Sudan has not confirmed a case of COVID-19, we remain at risk because all our neighbouring countries have reported cases,” said Minister of Health Hon. Elizabeth Achuei Yol. “While the government has taken measures to restrict entry of personnel from COVID-19 affected countries as a way of preventing the virus from entering South Sudan, raising awareness on the disease and how to prevent it are key in our preparedness.”
The Ministry of Health and UNICEF have partnered with over 25 radio stations across the country to broadcast and disseminate messages in ten languages. The campaign also includes distribution of communication materials and social mobilization efforts through the use of loudspeakers and megaphones. 144,000 posters, 60,000 banners and 550,000 leaflets in seven languages with information about sign and symptoms, preventive measures and how to get more information are currently going up all over the country. Digital channels such as social media will be fully utilized and essential information will be disseminated through bulk SMS.
In addition, 3,000 megaphones and 150,000 pairs of batteries are being distributed to support dissemination of messages at the community level. Orientation and training of community mobilisers to disseminate messages are ongoing in all high-risk locations. Community meetings and gatherings will not be part of the communication efforts as a measure to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
There is no vaccine for COVID-19. Therefore, people need to wash their hands with soap and water frequently, not to shake hands and cough in their bent elbow instead of in their hands. By doing so, people will contribute to reducing potential spread of the disease. In addition, it is advised to avoid close contact with people in general, specifically people with flu-like symptoms (fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing, tiredness). Furthermore, people experiencing flu-like symptoms need to stay at home and only call the Ministry of Health toll free number 6666 if their symptoms get worse.
Countries across the region are reporting COVID-19 cases and the closing of borders is daunting for many people. The Ministry of Health and UNICEF are encouraging people to adhere to the protective measures the Government of South Sudan has put in place, such as suspending social gatherings and taking the responsibility to create awareness and educate our families and communities on how to prevent coronavirus disease.
“Now is the time for individual responsibility, strong faith and clear actions to protect each other,” said UNICEF South Sudan Representative, Mohamed Ag Ayoya. “We need to have faith in each other, trust that all of us are doing what we can to prevent the spread of the virus. Now that we have the information on how to prevent transmission, we all have a responsibility to act upon that. Actions will speak louder than words,” concluded Ayoya.