In its response to COVID-19, a Kaduna-based non-governmental organisation, Aid Foundation in collaboration with WaterAid Nigeria, has strengthened personal hygiene at the General Hospital, Sabon Tasha, Chikun local government area if Kaduna State.
Through visual messaging, the behavioural change campaign has been designed to educate people and promote the constant practice of specific actions during the pandemic – handwashing with soap at critical times, use of clean toilets, respiratory hygiene, social distancing and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
When this correspondent visited the General Hospital, Sabon Tasha Kaduna at the weekend to access the level of compliance in response to COVID-19, there were instructional materials inwards and offices in addition to existing water basins and soaps placed at strategic positions in the facility for patients and other users.
Matron, Head of Nursing Services, General Hospital, Sabon Tasha, Kaduna, Hannatu Paul S, commended the Aid Foundation for supporting the Kaduna State Government in its efforts to keep COVID-19 at bay through constant education and enlightenment of people resident in the State.
According to this senior medical practitioner, “we have to ensure there are water and soap at strategic places especially where there is an influx of patients like the outpatient department and antenatal care.
“We have distributed the posters and fliers that were brought by Aid Foundation and in such a way that everyone can see it and act even when you don’t talk to them.
“But, we need more supply of soap because of the crowd. For example, four 500ml is not enough for a week here. Even if you give us 25 litres, it cannot be enough because people are too many and they wash hand frequently.
“To ensure adequate compliance, we ensure strict use of face masks and washing of hands as well as maintaining a safe distance. We make sanitiser available especially for those that touch patients every now and then”, she said.
Staff in the facility who spoke in confidence because he was not authorised to speak to the press said, “like now the soap is finished, must we wait for the government before we replace it?
“Since this is an emergency pandemic, if I have it at home, I will bring since it is for my good and others around me. We also get support from people outside government like Aid Foundation you mentioned.
“Sometimes, we receive up to 200 pregnant women who we cannot drive back home. Because of that, we have four days in a week for antenatal so we divide them according to these days to minimise crowd.
“For example, once you are not with your face mask well used, that is enough reason for us to ask you not to come until you are ready to follow instructions on COVID-19. In fact, some of them have the fliers with them”, he explained.
A Patient, Hajara Aboki said, “You don’t have to wait for the government to get these things done. It is cheaper to follow these protocols.
“Apart from the availability of soap and water in this hospital, we have posters and fliers that constantly remind us not to lose guard. As a result, I am more conscious of my actions in any environment
“This is not my first pregnancy and this is not my first time if coming to this hospital. But this time around, the COVID-19 is in the air and I need to do all I could to protect myself, my baby and everyone around me”, she said.
Speaking on the rationale behind the campaign, the Executive Director, Aid Foundation, Emmanuel Bonet said, his organisation organised that, good hygiene was a key component to achieving success being underpinned by the strong foundation of the family unit changing behaviour and adopting good hygiene practices.
“The project also supports efforts of the Nigerian government and developing partners in tackling the pandemic and other infectious disease outbreaks because frequent handwashing has been proven to be the first-line defence against COVID and other infectious diseases like cholera, diarrhoea.
“So far the Scale-Up Hygiene project has been concluded and has achieved construction of 35 inclusive and permanent handwashing facilities (HWFs) in 14 Kaduna local government areas which are Birnin Gwari, Kaura, Kagarko, Soba, Ikara, Sabon Gari, Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Chikun, Kajuru, Zangon Kataf, Kauru, Sanga, and Igabi.
“5,000 hygiene handpicks has been distributed to disadvantaged vulnerable households across these 14 local councils using data that mined from the Kaduna State Social Register in partnership with the Planning and Budget Commission”, he explained.