Mobile truck community sensitization to address myths around alcohol and COVID-19
USE OF MOBILE TRUCK SENSITISATION
In early March, 2020, the world was hit by a pandemic of COID-19, which has affected the lives of millions global.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus and spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or objects that has the virus on it, and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
The government through the ministry of health adopted preventive stay home measures which limited nearly all physicalinteraction activities in the communities including the closure of bars, this created room for alcohol consumption in homes which has resulted into alcohol related harms especially domestic violence which is being reported to be on an increase.
Information on preventive measures is wholly aired on media channels including radio, TV and social media sites most of which are not easily accessed by the communities due to lack of radios, Tv set, smart phones ,interference in signals, lack of data to visit social media this has kept many in the dark with only access to information got through word of mouth from colleagues which some time is inaccurate, Fear and misinformation have generated dangerous myths and misconceptions that consuming high strength alcohol can kill the CIVD-19 virus.
The use of a mobile track sensitisation approach came in handy to address gaps in information and clear myths held in the communities.
Most of the notable myths held in the community included;
• “Drinking alcohol helps kills the virus in the body, whenever one takes it his body is fully set to fight a waragi will quickly burn it out of the body” one gentle man lamented in Bibo village in Gombe division.
• ”Corona is for people living in towns, working congested people with limited air but us here in the village we can freely do what we want drink our alcohol with no limitation, government lock down is wastage of our high life’ a young person in Matugga shared.
• “Sanitizers are made from alcohol, so what is wrong with buying alcohol you drink while washing your hands?
• “A drunkard is immune to the COVID19 virus, because his body is alcohol filled with alcohol, so no need to sanitize, body is already sanitized” a lady in Sanga shared.
During the community sensitisation drive, the team consisting of a social worker, community development officer, health personnel from Buwambo health center up-to-date and accurate information about COVID-19 especially relating to alcohol use clarified on the myths and misconceptions as they transversed the villages while also emphasizing the guidelines by the ministry of health.
The community was informed that;
• alcohol has a deleterious effect on the immune system and cannot stimulate immunity and virus resistance so it is important to avoid alcohol all together so that one does not undermine his or her immune system and health and do not risk the health of other.
• Ensure that children and young people don’t have access to alcohol and do not let them see you consume alcohol –be a role model
• Discuss with children the problems associated with drinking and COVID-19 such as violations of quarantine and physical which can make the pandemic worse.
‘Under no circumstance should you drink any type of alcohol product as a means of preventing COVID 19 infection’
These efforts were greatly appreciated by the community especially the local leaders who informed the team that many people fill the virus is far away from them and since no one has died, there is no cause for alarm but now the community has got the information and will now behave with a lot of caution.