The World Health Organisation (WHO), in collaboration with Kwara Government, has inaugurated the “COVID-19 Survivors’’ initiative to sensitise people in the state that the disease is real.
The initiative entails that the survivors share their testimonies.
The initiative also includes road walks and awareness campaigns on COVID-19 preventive measures in different Nigerian languages.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Mr Mustapha Katibi, the coordinator of WHO in the state said that the programme was also to celebrate the survivors of COVID-19 in the state.
According to him, WHO and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have realised that there is an 80 to 90 per cent awareness level of the pandemic in the state.
Katibi, however, noted that the knowledge did not translate to behavioural change in people.
According to him, people in the state still do not take necessary precautions on preventive measures.
“There is COVID-19 denial, stigmatisation, unhygienic practices and lack of physical distancing still being practiced.
“People are not complying with preventive measures in spite of enforcement guidelines by the state government,’’ he said.
Katibi said that due to the negative response on COVID-19, WHO had rolled out Risk Communication and Community Project (RCC) by engaging about 180 community informants in communities, including Kaiyama, Isin and Oyun Local Government Areas.
He explained that these informants were saddled with the responsibility of sensitising their communities on COVID-19, including markets, religious and youth leaders.
The WHO representative pointed out that the RCC project would further demystify COVID-19 as well as reduce stigmatisation on survivors.
He, therefore, advised the state government to intensify enforcement of non-Pharmaceutical preventive measures in curbing COVID-19 in the state.
Mr Kayode Alabi, the Deputy Governor of Kwara and Survivor of COVID-19 testified that the virus was rea, adding that he went through the ordeal of contracting the disease.
He also attested to a number of people who had died from the disease, while advising people to adhere to all the preventive measures such as hand washing, wearing of face masks, and social distancing.
“People who survived only survived by the grace of God and not by our own doing,’’ he said.
Alabi, therefore, advised people to urgently go for testing if they had symptoms such as fever, cough, breathing difficulty, and frequent headache
Another survivor, Mr Lanre Alege, a Pharmacist with the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), said he was admitted to the teaching hospital for two weeks.
“I was on oxygen and felt I was dying. There are three cylinders of oxygen every day provided by the state government,’’ he said.
He commended the state government on the prompt supply of oxygen, adding that oxygen had always been constant for patients.
He warned that COVID-19 was no respecter of status and anyone could contract the disease.
Earlier, Mr Odey Adams, a Football Coach in Kwara who also survived COVID-19 warned that if they don’t wear face masks now, they might end up wearing oxygen masks.
“Needles would be pierced into the skin constantly. Carelessness can lead people to experience these dangers,’’ he said.
Adams, however, warned people against stigmatising survivors, adding that it was just like any other ailment.
Dr Oluwatosin Fakayode, Director of Public Health, Kwara Ministry of Health, said the state government resolved to collaborate with WHO in order to create awareness that the disease was real.
He also appealed to people in the state to comprehend government’s effort by adhering to strict preventive measures on the pandemic.
The highlight of the event included the distribution of T-shirts and fliers with inscriptions: “I’m a hero! together we can beat COVID-19’’, and “COVID-19 is real, protect yourself’’.