Uche Usim, Abuja
As countries worldwide scramble to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has embarked on aggressive sensitisation campaign in rural communities in Abuja.
The sensitisation campaign is being undertaken by the Department of Information and Communication of the FCTA and comprises health educators, information officers and other officials.
They have, so far, been to communities in Kuje, Gwagwalada and Bwari Area Councils; with plans to eventually cover the six area councils that make up the FCT.
In each community so far visited, the team met with district heads, religious leaders, market leaders and other groups, where the dangers of coronavirus, Lassa fever and open defecation were unfolded to them.
The communities were also taught various preventive measures to insulate them from contracting any of the dreaded infections.
At the latest sensitisation tour, the FCTA team visited the palaces of Esu of Bwari, His Royal Highness, Ibrahim Yaro and the Sarki of Bwari, Awwal Musa Ijakoro ll.
At the Esu of Bwari’s palace, the leader of the team and Director of Information and Communication, FCTA, Mrs Stella Ojeme represented by Mrs Leticia Wogu, shared pamphlets with vivid pictorial illustrations on healthy living to members of the community present. They were written both in English and Hausa languages to capture the entire populace.
She also urged the community to make cleanliness their watchword and shun self-medication at all times.
She assured that the sensitisation will be a continuous programme that will include radio jingles to ensure a wider reach.
“Why we usually visit palaces is that we recognize the important roles royal fathers play in their communities to inform, educate, sensitise and persuade their people to toe certain paths.
“So, with this visit, we are sure the message will still be passed to a heterogeneous and wider audience and our purpose will be achieved”, she said.
Speaking in the Hausa language, another senior official of FCTA, Mrs Hauwa Suleiman told the audience that coronavirus remains a globally destabilising virus that must not be allowed to spread.
She said: “This pandemic is threatening the global economy. Schools in Europe, Asia and the United States are shutting down. Markets are closing, sports, conferences and other engagements are being cancelled daily.
“So, in Nigeria, we’re happy it has not spread. We’re only told about the index case but we can’t fold our hands. We need to embrace hygiene intelligence. Keep your surroundings clean. Use hand sanitizers always. Wash your hands with soap always. Avoid crowded areas if you can. This coronavirus is in the air and fluids like saliva.
“Stop open defecation. It’s a sure way to cause and spread any epidemic. More so, mandatory environmental sanitization in markets should return. Defecation into rivers and farms must stop. The coronavirus pandemic is something we must not toy with.
“For Lassa fever, the vector is rats. Rats live among us and we must keep our food and water out of their reach. If the infected rat drops its faeces or saliva in your food and water, you stand the risk of contracting it. Boil your food and meat properly. Wash your meat with vinegar or salt.
“The symptoms of Lassa fever are similar to malaria, especially high fever and headache. Same with coronavirus. Some vomit and have blood coming out of their eyes. But that is when the Lassa fever has attained an acute level. That is why it has become expedient to shun self-medication. Visit the hospital if you have a fever and constant headache or you feel dizzy. Don’t be scared to visit the hospital. It’s for your own good and that of your family and community if you’re professionally diagnosed and treated”, she explained.
Responding, a member of the community, Saheed Abubakar thanked the visiting FCTA team for the sensitisation campaign, describing it as most timely and enlightening.
“We are now better informed and we will take this message to the mosques, churches and other groups to pass to their people. It’s only a healthy nation that can be prosperous”, he said.
Another resident, Yahaya Joyce, who is also a secondary school teacher promised to take the message to her students and fellow teachers.
“We’re talking about dangerous diseases here. Coronavirus and lassa fever are not things to toy with. They are deadly, killing many. So, a collective containment plan is key. This sensitisation at grassroots is very vital. We really appreciate it”, she noted.
At the palace of Sarki Bwari, residents gathered in their numbers to receive the team.
The anxious crowd jostled for the pamphlets to get a deeper insight into the message from the FCTA team.
Anwalu Usman, a resident promised to inform his friends and fellow farmers of the need to embrace deeper hygienic practices.