We are often asked to give reliable facts about health situations, especially when things seem to be so confusing. Global Health Doctor TED LANKESTER shares some guidance on Coronavirus here.
I greatly enjoy connecting with members of our network in a variety of ways. And one ideal way for many of us to do this is through our monthly Linking to Learn (L2L) Zoom calls on the first Wednesday of each month. At our last L2L, which was on Covid, many people asked us to give clear information that they could trust. Cluster members also shared great ideas about what can be done in practice. We’ve included some of these below. But do share other things that you are doing.
We especially worry regarding false ideas about the vaccine – a vaccine which is so life-saving. Of course the good news is that through the Covax scheme the vaccine is becoming more available in many countries, even though it’s a slow process.
But the main problem is that so many people are not wanting to have the vaccine. We need to understand the reasons why people are reluctant, explain the facts, and gently try to persuade them.
PRECAUTIONS WE ALL NEED TO TAKE
It can be difficult to do all these things in practice. So it’s a matter of knowing the facts and following as best you can in your own situation:
Keep at least 2 metres away, wherever possible, from those you don’t normally mix with. It reduces your risk and reduces their risk
Wear a facemask when you are inside with people you don’t usually mix with. It helps to save lives.
Wash your hands often with soap and water if you possibly can. Also use a hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid crowded places
Have the vaccine when as soon as it’s available. Have the correct number of doses
Stay at home (self-isolate) if you have one or more of these symptoms: high fever, new continuous cough, loss of taste and smell
Self- isolate for 10 days, or longer if your symptoms continue
Request medical help if you get more seriously ill or have trouble breathing
WHAT WE CAN DO TO HELP OTHER
Know the facts yourself from reliable sources of information (see below)
Make sure your family members know the facts
Make sure your Cluster members know the facts
Get to know the false ideas circulating in your area about the fear of vaccination.
Then share the true facts with dignity and compassion
Ask yourself: what’s the most effective way in my situation to make true facts known?
Talk to people. This is a key thing. Ask people how they are and how they are managing. Ask what ways they are following to prevent their family and friends from getting Coronavirus. Share ideas of helpful things you have been doing, or good ideas you have heard about from others. See if there are any ways you are able to help. You could mention some of the points listed in this blog which you feel might be most helpful, especially ways in which you can encourage them to have the vaccine as soon as its available
Print out material in your local language. It could be a small flyer or a large banner or something in between. You could use facts mentioned here or look at the Covid information in more than 50 languages listed at the end under Hesperian
Make sure every community group knows the facts and makes them known. Ask to speak on your local radio station. Ask leaders of youth clubs, sports clubs and music events to know the facts and mention them at events.
Ask local celebrities, role models and respected leaders to speak up for the true facts. Inform faith leaders about the facts. Make absolutely sure your own church leaders know the facts and follow them and tell their followers. Encourage them to share facts with their congregations and others. They are often listened to more than anyone else.
Thank you for reading this. I hope you feel encouraged as you help and serve your community in so many inspiring ways. Even small things can help. I like the idea that we can stand out as Beacons of Truth and Light and also show friendship and compassion for those in the greatest need.
SOURCES OF RELIABLE SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION
Q+A on the vaccine - The World Health Organisation (WHO)
When and how to use masks - The World Health Organisation (WHO)
When and How to Wash Your Hands - The Centre For Disease Control (CDC)
About Coronavirus – Africa CDC
Mythbusters - The World Health Organisation (WHO)
More Information on Vaccines - Tearfund