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FG's 1,550 Volunteers Commence Awareness Campaign On COVID-19 In Akwa Ibom

The Akwa Ibom government through the Ministry of Health has deployed 1,550 volunteers recruited by the Federal Ministry of Health into the 31 local government areas for awareness campaign against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in communities. The state health educator, Mrs Margeret Etim, disclosed this at the second quarter of the Advocacy Communication and Social Mobilization (ACSM) Core Group meeting which took place at the conference room of the Ministry of Health, Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat, Uyo, recently. Etim said 50  vulunteers were drafted  each to  the 31 local government areas in  the state   after prerequisite  training   to help in debunking  the myth and  rumours surrounding the pandemic. She observed that despite the realities of the pandemic, some people still believe that the disease does not exist. Etim pointed out that there was differential diagnosis between  the symptoms of malaria and that of COVID-19 although both were similar, explaining that whereas malaria was  caused  by female anopheles mosquito after transmitting plasmodium falciparum, coronavirus disease broke out from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2 ). Besides, the state coordinator maintained that while rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kit was used for testing for malaria infection, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and GeneXpert were  being used in testing for COVID-19. She further said that while COVID-19 symptoms include: loss of taste, difficulty in breathing, and the use of ventilator to revive a patient, malaria was not so. Etim emphasized that in COVID-19, aged people were vulnerable and therefore appealed to those spreading such misinformation to desist, but to convey accurate messages that would help to flatten the COVID-19 curve in the state. The educator commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for providing a state-of -the- art isolation centre, emergency operations centre and PCR for testing of COVID-19 patients, adding that the era of delays was gone as testing was promptly carried out and results timely released. She also warned against the use of face shield instead of face mask, noting that the former does not guarantee 100 per cent protection; whereas the latter provides 100 per cent and that the two should be combined for safety purposes. Mrs Elsie Udofia, the chairperson of the ACSM, who reviewed the group's activities in the quarter, said efforts should be intensified to eliminate malaria in the state in the midst of COVID-19. She appreciated the partners and members of the group for their contributions towards the successful hosting of the 2020 World Malaria Day on April 25, 2920, while urging all stakeholders not to relent in the fight against malaria. The  state coordinator, Breakthrough Action-Nigeria (BA-N), Mr Bassey Nsa, hinted  that from the services of traditional rulers, a total of 324 volunteers had been engaged by the agency to undertake the dispelling of  the myth and rumours about the pandemic and the need to go for test if there is any symptom of malaria. The focal person for ACSM, Mrs Mary Bassey, also extolled the stakeholders which despite the COVID-19 challenges marked the World Malaria Day. Kokoette Mkpam of the BAN said advocacy messages on behavioral change has been introduced on Airtel line with the number 321, where the public could click on their cell phones and listen. He also stated the services of town criers in villages were used to spread information about COVID-19 and the need to stay safe from infection.

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