By Olimatou Coker
National Council for Civic Education over the weekend concluded 8 days nation-wide sensitization caravan on the coronavirus pandemic.
The tour teams visited communities from Essau in NBR to Passamass in CRR North, all the way to Mandinaba.
Speaking, Yusupha Bojang, programme manager at NCCE, said as Gambia like the rest of the world wrestles with the devastating and disrupting impact of the coronavirus pandemic, NCCE in a fast paced nationwide campaign joined the chorus of voices to amplify the information and messages of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health about COVID-19 to local communities around the country to stem the spread of the virus and allay the fears of the general public.
“The massive sensitization campaign which covered from Barra to Pasamass on the North Bank and Koina to Mandinaba on the South Bank was geared towards enlightening the citizens especially those in the rural communities on the dangers of COVID-19, how it can be spread, signs and symptoms and the preventives measures as per the information of the WHO and the Ministry of Health”.
He said the sensitization worked towards ensuring that all people throughout the Gambia including marginalized and hard-to-access communities receive vital information about the virus, involving open sensitization with a P.A System in markets and village centers, and a flurry of radio programs at the Community Radio Stations while also distributing critical hand wash materials in various cities, villages and hospital and health centres.
“Drawing on our experience of conducting and facilitating civic-education in order to stimulate public discussion and awareness of constitutional and governance issues, NCCE throughout the sensitization reminded citizens of their civic and patriotic duty especially with regards to the declaration of the State of Public Emergency”.
Bojang said as NCCE, they recognize that these are extraordinary times that have dramatically upended life as we used to know it and there is great urgency in delivering critical and timely information to all citizens across the nation. “Never has it been more important that accurate and reliable information is at the forefront amid an avalanche of disinformation dubbed ‘infodemic’ by the WHO, which has the staggering potential to generate complacency, sow fear and divide people at this crucial and trying moment.”
He added that the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is without doubt the biggest challenge of our lifetimes and has thrust the world in an unchartered territory.
“The speed and extent of Covid-19 spread and the scale of its social and economic impact has come as an enormous and deeply worrying shock making the pandemic not just a medical and economic emergency, but could also derailed the transition process the Gambia has been going through after the change of government in 2016 due to its potentially devastating consequences for economic growth and political stability.
“As we navigate through this new normal we find ourselves in, NCCE’s intervention ensured that the responses to the COVID-19 was comprehensive as well as equitable and inclusive, and that no community big or small, is left out so as to get through this together and emerge stronger as a nation,” he highlighted.
Ansumana Ceesay, senior programme officer at NCCE, observed that at the moment there is misconception among many Gambians particularly rural people who think black people and Muslims are immune to Covid-19.
He therefore urged them to take care and listen to doctors and experts than ordinary people who may give misleading information.
He pointed out that the signs and symptoms of Covid-19 include but not limited to difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, blush lips or face.
According to him the sensitisation is in line with their mandate to educate and raise awareness among Gambian citizens on issues related to their livelihood as their mandate is not only limited to sensitizing citizens on democracy, the constitution, rule of law and good governance but on citizens’ general awareness on issues affecting their livelihood.
The NCCE also gave out over one hundred buckets, metal stands and sanitary materials to communities across the length and breadth of the country as well as to major hospitals across the country.