UNICEF assisted SOMTEC project sensitizes community women on COVID 19 prevention, essential family practices

COVENANT OLUCHI IKEDINOBI writes that Anambra State Social Mobilization and Technical Committee (SOMTEC), a United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) assisted project domiciled in the State Ministry of Information& Public Enlightenment is holding speaking Sessions with Women Groups to educate Community Women on COVID-19 prevention, promoting and tracking the uptake of Routine Immunization (RI) and other Essential Family Practices (EFPs).

The programme activities is being held at 15 selected communities in five Local Government Areas (LGA) of Anambra State. These communities include Amanuke, Umuchu, Achina, Eziowelle, Abatete, Akpo, Mgbakwu, Isuanaocha, Isulo, Nawfija, Adaziani, Akweze, Ihite, Oraukwu, Agulu, communities.

The speaking sessions is aimed at sensitizing an average of 100 women nominated by each community who in turn will go back to further educate other women on EFPs and COVID 19 prevention in their various communities. Sets of IEC books/Materials on Maternal new born child health, Facts about healthy living/ hygiene and Covid 19 prevention were distributed to the women groups to continue the sensitization in their communities with the aim of achieving positive behavioral change.

The SOMTEC Project Desk Officer, Ministry of Information and Public Enlightenment, Mrs. Chineze George-Ileka informed the women that COVID 19 is real saying that as people come in from different places including those living outside the country for the Christmas and New year celebrations there would be high risk of people getting infected with the dreaded Corona virus.

“COVID 19 is real but it is not a death sentence. It was first reported in December 2019 at Wuhan, China. COVID 19 was first reported in Nigeria this February at Lagos, Osun, Abuja and later in Anambra State.

“The symptoms of COVID 19 include Dry cough, fever, difficulty in breathing/tiredness, aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, headache, loss of taste or smell, rash on skin, discolouration of fingers or toes. Some people who do not feel any symptoms or asymptomatic persons can easily infect others”, said Mrs. George-Ileka.

In other to be fully protected from the dreaded pandemic the women were told to observe all the Covid 19 preventive measures. These include “Maintaining physical/social distancing, Use of sign greetings instead of handshaking or hugging. Cough into your elbow, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Stay at home but if you must go out to public gatherings like church, ceremonies or market use prevention and protective equipments (PPEs). Wear your face mask properly, even if you have a face shield wear it with a face mask because the face shield is not a preventive equipment”. said Mrs. George-Ileka.

Mrs. George-Ileka also advised pregnant women to wear PPEs to avoid getting infected adding that nursing mothers should wear their face masks always to avoid getting infected or infecting their infant while breast feeding.

She further sensitized women on the five key EFPs which include: Breastfeed infant exclusively for about six months taking into account WHO/UNICEF/UNIDS policies and recommendation on HIV and infant feeding; Take children for a full course of immunization before their first birthday to avoid regrets.

“Recognize when sick children need treatment outside the home and take them for healthcare to the appropriate provider. Wash your mouth and body thoroughly to avoid odour”, she said.

Mrs. George-Ileka discouraged people from patronizing Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) saying that both mother and child were at risk of contaminating infections, deformation, imbecility and death saying that the TBAs lack the professionalism to midwife especially when complications arise.

“Ekemma does not screen mothers to determine whether they are HIV positive, diabetic or hypertensive. She neither sterilizes her instruments nor does she know the diameter of tear to give or how to suture a woman after child delivery.

“There is need for antenatal and post-natal visits for immunization and to avoid mother to child transmission of HIV; family planning and Child Spacing to avoid rupture of the womb and maternal death. Even HIV positive nursing mothers can breastfeed their infant with proper directive and medications which are only available at proper health facilities like our Primary health Care centers”, said Mrs. George-Ileka.

She stressed on personal hygiene adding that exclusive breast feeding from Day 1 including the colostrum should be adopted by mothers saying that it helps in building the immune system of the infants against various diseases and helps in proper brain and body developments.

Meanwhile, the State Hygiene Promotion Officer, Dr Rose Amasiani discussed the six areas of hygiene that could curb spread of diseases that result in waste of resources and death urging women as influencers to keep advocating that every family, public place had and uses a covered toilet with hand washing facilities.

“Wash your hands regularly with soap or Ash and running water. At the absence of water use hand sanitizers. Critical times for hand washing include after visiting public places, before cooking eating or breast feeding your infant, after visiting the toilet or disposing children’s feaces.

“The Federal Government has declared state of emergency on open defecation. Anambra State Government also flagged of a state of emergency against open defecation yesterday. There is a new legislation saying that anyone caught defecating in the open is liable to a fine and possible six month’s imprisonment”, Mrs. Amasiani warned.

However, the various groups of Women leaders who were so excited about the grassroots’ healthcare sensitization, thanked the state government and UNICEF for the programme and promised to implement all the EFPs they learnt.

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