Coronvirus – Chad: Reaching communities in Chad with COVID-19 safety messages

Content provided by APO Group. CNBC Africa provides content from APO Group as a service to its readers, but does not edit the articles it publishes. CNBC Africa is not responsible for the content provided by APO Group.
Download logo

Ali Ngarba says his biggest worry about COVID-19 is that there is no vaccine yet. He shares a compound with three other families in Goudji, a neighbourhood in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, and tries to keep safe: he has set up a handwashing bucket at the doorstep and ventures out only occasionally and when necessary.

Communal living, not uncommon in many of N’Djamena’s neighbourhoods, is a source of fear among residents as COVID-19 persists. When the pandemic reached Chad, health authorities rolled out a raft of response measures, including door-to-door visits by community health educators to relay messages on safety.

While face-to-face meetings are time-consuming, the sessions are more personal, often carried out by someone from the same community who speaks the same language and has the appropriate cultural understanding. Unlike broadcast messages, people can ask questions and seek clarifications in door-to-door campaigns.

Although nearly 700 community health educators have been trained in the country’s seven provinces, a major shortcoming of the door-to-door campaigns is limited reach. A call centre, messages disseminated through 17 radio stations in several towns and thousands of posters complement the house-to-house health education drive launched in May 2020 and which runs for up to three months.

The community approach is also an effective way of combatting rumours and disinformation, says Djazouli Ibn Adam, who heads the health promotion division at the Ministry of Health. Since the house-to-house campaign was launched, more than 103 000 people have been educated on COVID-19 across the country.

Village chiefs, neighbourhood leaders and health workers have volunteered to be part of Chad’s door-to-doo campaigns to sensitize the public. They are mostly members of the communities they are reaching out to. “Their involvement inspires confidence among families and makes it easy to relay messages and gather information from households,” says Mr Adam.

Marie Loumaye, a university student who has volunteered as a community health educator, speaks three local languages, French and the Chadian Arabic dialect. “This makes my work easy because I know that at least one of the three local languages is spoken in the households that I visit,” she says.

Explaining the origin of COVID-19, its symptoms, how it spreads and ways to keep safe are some of the headline features of the information passed on during the house-to-house visits. But one preventive measure – physical distancing – raises the most questions.

“We are so used to communal living and sharing that it is impossible to make people understand that they need to keep distant from each other to prevent infection,” says Ms Loumaye. “We try as much as we can to explain why it is important, but it is part of our life and it is very difficult to make people change.”

“It is almost impossible to not share a family meal or live communally,” says Adam Hassane, a neighbourhood leader and an experienced community health educator. “Some people have told me that they’d rather die than keep away from family. But I do my best to explain that one should not put their family in danger.” 

Despite the challenges, Mr Hassane recounts that he is heartened when he sees people putting into practice the safety advice they receive. The virus was detected in Chad on 19 March 2020 from an arriving traveller. The first local transmission was declared in N’Djamena on 6 April 2020.

The health authorities are focusing on communities to also build confidence so that they trust the right information and avoid risky behaviour.

“I’m reassured that the message has been received when I go past a home where I met the family and see changes such as a handwashing bucket. It shows that I wasn’t preaching in the desert,” says Ms Loumaye.

While worries that a vaccine is yet to be developed may still linger in Mr Ngarba’s mind, he expresses reassurance about other aspects of the virus following a visit by a community health educator. “I had the opportunity to ask questions and clear the doubts I had given some rumours about COVID-19.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.

Related Content

Coronavirus – Africa: COVID-19 WHO Africa Update as of 4 July 2020

Over 444,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent - with more than 214,000 recoveries & 10,800 deaths. View country figures & more with the WHO African Region COVID-19 Dashboard: by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.Media filesDownload logo

Coronavirus – Gambia: Daily Case Update as of 3rd July 2020

Active cases: 26 New cases: 0 New tests: 17 Total confirmed: 55 Recovered: 27 Deaths: 2Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Health, The Gambia.Media filesDownload logo

Coronavirus – South Africa: COVID-19 statistics in South Africa as at 3rd July 2020

Test conducted - 1745153 Positive cases identified - 177124 Total recoveries - 86298 Total deaths - 2952 New cases - 9063Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa, Department of Health.Media filesDownload logo

Coronavirus – Zimbabwe: COVID-19 update, 3rd July 2020

Download logoHighlights of the situation report Eight (8) cases tested positive for COVID-19. These include returnees from South Africa (6), Botswana (1) and 1 local case who are isolated. Investigations are underway to establish the source of infection for the local case. New recoveries were reported by Masvingo Province (2) and Bulawayo Province (1). 3750 RDT screening tests and 499 PCR diagnostic tests were done. The cumulative number of tests done to date is 75485 (43373 RDT and 3211

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC AFRICA delivered to your inbox

More from CNBC Africa

Land Bank default forces S.Africa’s central bank into $200 mln bailout of state investment arm

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s central bank has issued a 3.45 billion rand ($200 million) guarantee to bail out the Corporation for...

Zimbabwe’s Landela agrees to buy state-owned gold mines, seeks more assets

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s Landela Mining Venture has reached agreements to take over and revive four idle state-owned gold mines and is...

How Zimbabwe farmers will be trained how to farm with a scheme from Belarus with love

When the farm invasions were unleashed by the people in power in 2000, it led to bloodshed and random confiscation that reaped a bitter harvest of lost production and exports that persists until this day. That year with all of its fumbling fury fuelled with the idea that to get rich you merely had to own a farm, is always seen as a turning point for the industry. It created a large slice of the country’s GDP and as it fell, so did the fortunes of Zimbabwe.

South Africa’s National Treasury says “no further action” to bailout SAA airline

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa’s National Treasury said on Friday there was “no further action” planned to bailout struggling national airline...

Partner Content

Sanlam launches urgent job-preservation initiative in response to COVID-19

Sanlam Investments is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through large-scale support of the recovery of South African companies, from small enterprises to...

Is Market Volatility Here For The Foreseeable Future?

Content provided by CompareForexBrokers Prior to understanding why market volatility might be here to stay for the foreseeable future,...

Trending Now

Morocco’s RAM to axe routes, may reduce fleet to secure aid

RABAT (Reuters) - Moroccan airline Royal Air Maroc plans to cancel some air links, cut jobs and may sell 20 aircraft to...

Vedanta’s Zambia copper unit warns part of Nchanga open-pit mine about to collapse

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a unit of diversified miner Vedanta Resources, has closed part of its open-pit mine...

Old Mutual makes acting CEO permanent, a year after sacking predecessor

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Old Mutual said on Friday acting CEO Iain Williamson had been made permanent, ending a year of uncertainty over...

South Africa’s Capitec forecasts 70% profit fall in blow to shares

(Reuters) - Capitec Bank forecast a fall of at least 70% in first-half earnings on Friday due to a spike in bad...
- Advertisement -