NATIONAL Aids Council (NAC) is taking the Covid-19 vaccination drive to remote areas of Manicaland with the aim of bridging the information gap for the benefit of the elderly, the disabled as well as people living with HIV and Aids.
NAC Manicaland provincial manager, Mr Evos Makoni said: “Covid-19 has brought its fair share of challenges and people living with HIV have not been spared by the pandemic. National Aids Council takes a multi-sectoral approach in the fight against HIV.
“NAC has been implementing social and behaviour change communications programmes for over 20 years. Taking from this vast experience, NAC is bringing in a worthy of experience in the fight against Covid-19.
“NAC working with the seven district Civil Protection Units in Manicaland is empowering all village heads, headmen, councillors and chiefs to take up the fight against Covid-19 within their areas of jurisdiction.
“The community gatekeepers play a pivotal role in community development as they are acceptable, available and are trusted by the communities they lead. The initiative came to buttress the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown enforcement programme that is being implemented in the country, although being more pronounced in urban areas.”
Mr Makoni noted that the Civil Protection Unit, at district level, has also come in handy in complementing their outreach programme.
“The programme being implemented by NAC and working with the Civil Protection Units is bridging the gap that was identified in rural areas as Covid-19 lockdown regulation measures were not being fully enforced with the urgency they deserved.
“The programme is aimed at empowering community leaders to fully enforce the Covid-19 regulations. It was noted that traditional leaders in resettlement areas are finding it difficult to enforce the Covid-19 lockdown regulations as they have not yet been confirmed by Government.” He said the information gap in rural communities needs to be addressed as a matter of priority.
“It was noted that there is a huge information gap for rural folks. They don’t have access to correct health information. Besides the information gap, there are a lot of programmes objectives especially on funerals.
“Funerals have been identified as Covid-19 super spreaders. Some communities in Mutasa District have managed to set up funeral committees that ensure that that there is social distancing, washing of hands, masking up and maintaining low numbers of mourners during funerals.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care needs to put the vaccination programme into overdrive as the community gatekeepers have vowed to create huge demand for Covid-19 vaccination programmes.
“There is also need to organise outreach programs for the disabled and the elderly. Besides Covid-19, the CPUs are also sensitising gatekeepers on child protection and gender-based violence issues. Covid-19 lockdown measures have brought about a surge in child pregnancies, child marriages, and gender based violence,” he said.