News from Rumbek
Hand shaking and raising awareness of Coronavirus
South Sudan is a developing country with poor medical facilities. We face higher risks of the pandemic virus. Traditions are attached to our way of life. The hand shake is an important aspect in their daily lives as it symbolizes peace and respect among the communities. However, hand shaking is now regarded as being a major agent in the spread of the virus and has to be avoided.
Creating awareness to the community about Coronavirus becomes an urgent need as most of our people are illiterate and they are not informed of what is happening around the world, therefore proper orientation and health education for preventive measures are required.
On 31st March, 2020, nine former interns returned to Loreto. Among the group are five trainee nurses, two medical students and two development students. All have returned from their various learning institutes to help prepare for the Coronavirus in the Mary Ward Primary Health Care Center (LPHCC).
Four days each week the group divides and goes out into the community to create awareness on Coronavirus, they address people on how it infects a person, its symptoms and the preventive measures to be taken. Social distancing, hand washing and avoidance of hand shake are greatly emphasized.
According to Ms. Nyanakak, one of the nursing students,
“following some basic steps and other preventive steps can reduce the risk of infection. In the first place most the people that attended were ignorance base on the little information they have on the virus but after 2 weeks of training, they realized that it was a serious issue that needed attention”.
The graduate teachers are finding a number of challenges as they move throughout the villages. Social distancing is not really possible as many families are used to sharing beds, bedding materials and cooking and eating utensils.
Another challenge has been ignorance, this is particularly from the men, as they believe that the virus is more easily transmitted by the women! As a result many of men avoid the classes on awareness and this makes the job even harder.
Last Friday the graduates decided to challenge the men and invited the community elders to join them in Loreto so that together with the School and Clinic administration they could address some of these traditional beliefs and practices. The meeting was a great success and in the end the elders agreed to initiate the mobilization of people in the community especially the men.
Mr Marial Dak expresses “I am very happy about girls coming to talk to us about Coronavirus and also helping with the hand washing soap. As it is always said protect yourself first and God will help you with the rest. I will try my best to tell my children to avoid going to play at the neighbor’s house and to also avoid moving to places that are overcrowded”.
The graduates usually meet the community at the water points. Over the past three weeks they have taught the community common ways of prevention that include the practice of social distancing, avoiding hand shaking, the use of the flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing and the importance of hand washing regularly. The graduates distribute hand washing soap to everyone that attends the training.
Rebecca Yar one of the beneficiaries from the community who attended the training session further explains “the girls coming to the borehole to talk about Coronavirus has helped a lot because we are able to know how the virus spread and what to do so that we do get the disease. Now we are well informed and will carefully follow the steps that we were shown in all ways possible.”
Over the last 3 weeks, the medical team has been able to outreach to different 49 water points, boreholes training total number of 3,010 people, mostly women.
The medical team is motivated by the willingness of the community members to take up the preventive measures in controlling the spread of the virus and they look forward to targeting a bigger group in the next few weeks.