A fleet of vehicles equipped with loudspeakers and signboards have been on the move through North Darfur and Kordofan in Sudan, sharing messages about handwashing, social distancing and other ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Save the Children has 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, the group demonstrated social distancing and distributed leaflets on COVID-19 prevention, while also broadcasting messages on loudspeakers.
Save the Children is partnering with a location telecommunications company, Zain-Sd, to send COVID-19 awareness messages by SMS across Sudan in the coming days. Zain-Sd has the highest number of subscribers of any telecoms company in Sudan, and it is expected that the messages will reach over 5 million people by the end of next week.
The mobile messaging squad is part of a range of activities taking place in Sudan to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as cases rose dramatically across Africa this week. To date there have been more than 5,255 confirmed cases across at least 47 countries in Africa, with Sudan reporting six confirmed cases, including two deaths.
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, as well as establishing 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 working around the clock to ensure children and their families get the information they need to stay safe and healthy. This is a massive endeavour, in some of the most remote parts of Sudan and we’re proud of what the team have 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 getting through. Children and their families need to understand how the virus spreads 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.