Abuja, 17 August 2020- “The sensitization was timely and relevant as I had become complacent and was no longer using this mask, thinking that the pandemic is over. With the campaign to mask-up, I am reminded of its importance and how it gives protection on contracting the virus,” says Mr Sunday Emmanuel, an FCT, Abuja resident.
For Godwin Abu, also residing in Abuja, “the messages I saw on WHO social media platforms on facemasks brought me back to reality. I have never worn a mask since the beginning of this pandemic, but I have gotten some now and will continue to wear it. I will also try and pass this message on to people around me as most people are not really adhering to the NCDC guidelines.”
Following the ease of lockdown, a lot of Nigerians have relaxed and have not been adhering to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s (NCDC) guidelines of COVID-19 transmission. Most citizens think the pandemic is over, thereby do not bother to wear face masks. While WHO emphasizes that, “the use of a mask alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection”, wearing it is said to be one of the most effective ways of slowing community transmission of the virus.
The just concluded World Mask Week (WMW), a collaborative initiative from a coalition of organizations including the Pandemic Action Network (PAN), WHO, Africa CDC and private companies working to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 globally which ran from August 7 – August 14, 2020 reminded Nigerians of the importance of wearing facemasks towards reducing the spread of COVID-19, to protect the vulnerable in society.
During the event, the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, stated that the “WMW “mask up Naija” is a truly timely campaign that shows what can be achieved when government, private sector and individuals come together to push a simple yet important action. By reinforcing the need to wear a face mask, we are prioritizing Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) on the global agenda and demonstrating the role that everyone has to play, protecting each other, saving lives and slowing the spread of COVID-19 globally.”
In continued efforts to contain community transmission in the country, the WHO Risk Communication team is supporting a community sensitization campaign on adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions especially the appropriate use of face mask among the population at all levels. Talk shows, jingles and TV animations are being aired daily across all major traditional media stations to remind the population on impotence of face masks and their correct use.
Graphic designs of people wearing mask were also created and posted on social media. Series of media interviews of key stakeholders were conducted on the importance and correct use of face mask by WHO Nigeria.
“The correct use of face mask is key to ensuring containment of the spread of the COVID 19 in our communities, face mask can be sometimes uncomfortable but contracting COVID 19 is more uncomfortable and riskier. Let us all continue to wear face mask to protect our lives and that of our loved ones” said Hawa Sesay, a WHO Risk Communication Officer, at one of the radio talk shows.
For Ibrahim Kabir, a Jigawa State resident “this is like a reminder and a refresher, it has brought us back to reality. Listening to the messages on radio has brought us back on alert, we will never go out without face masks again and will make sure we pass the message to other for a COVID-19 free Nigeria. Many thanks to WHO.”
Dr Rex Mpazanje; Email:mpazanjer [at] who.int; Tel: +234 803 960 0874
Sesay Hawa; Email: sesayh [at] who.int; Tel: +234 906 278 4295