As Uganda and the world struggle to navigate through the “new normal” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing masks remains one of the most effective preventative measures to slow down the spread of the virus. However, many people remain reluctant to wear them or even wear them correctly.
MTN is now adding its voice to the global drive to raise awareness about the importance of wearing masks in the fight against coronavirus through a campaign dubbed #WearItForMe across its 21 African and Middle Eastern markets.
To help drive this much-needed change in behaviour, MTN has committed its September 2020 marketing resources such as advertisements towards encouraging everyone to adopt the habit of wearing masks so as to save lives. To further showcase the importance and necessity of wearing masks, the telecom giant held a webinar under the theme; “Managing Covid-19 Together”.
The webinar that featured panellists from the ministry of Health, Uganda Redcross Society and MTN Uganda reemphasized the importance of wearing masks as well as observing the other standard operating procedures such as hand washing and social distancing in the fight against coronavirus spread.
While opening up the webinar, Enid Edroma, the general manager MTN corporate services said that MTN is using mothers to put across the mask campaign message because mothers are influential figures in the behavioural change of their children.
“We as a corporate company are looking out for the lives of the people we serve because Covid-19 has become a serious issue yet people are still adamant towards observing the SOPs including the wearing of masks,” Edroma said.
Dr Richard Kabanda the acting commissioner Health Services from the ministry of Health said that over 4,000 cases had so far been registered in the country with over 50 confirmed deaths and 2,000 recoveries while thousands of the infected are still battling the virus.
“The 4,377 [now 4,799] positive results are from the number of people that have been tested so far but we anticipate that we may have many more cases out there,” Kabanda said noting that of those, 92 patients are under 12 years of age, meaning that children need to be sensitized about actively practising the SOPs as they go about their daily lives since they can also be potentially affected by it. We need to sensitize our children," said Kabanda.
Kabanda urged all individuals to be careful even as they go about their lives in the communities since the disease has now moved into the communities and is no longer just at the borders. He specifically noted that Kampala is now the country's hotspot, with 30 per cent of the cases, translating to over 1,500 cases registered in Kampala and surrounding areas.
“If people do not follow the SOPs they can easily get infected because the disease is now in the communities and not just at the borders,” Kabanda stated.
Also speaking at the webinar, Dr Arnold Ezama from the Uganda Redcross Society health services department observed that people are getting lethargic with carrying on with the SOPs. This, he said is a dangerous attitude, considering that 79 per cent of the registered cases are from within the community and only 21 per cent are imported cases.
Speaking about mask-wearing, Ezama said that; “As Uganda Redcross, we do a lot of operational research and this guides our interventions. And we know that mask-wearing is important in terms of preventing the disease. If we all wore masks, then we would slow down the rate of infections.”
Kabanda also noted that mask-wearing was found to be an effective preventative measure by the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control based on what transpired in countries like China that contended with the pandemic before it spread to other countries.
Ezama further noted that; “From the data gathered by epidemiologists, the cases are anticipated to peak as we move towards the end of the year, unless something drastic happens.”
He further noted that the myths surrounding the pandemic, lack of youth participation and loss of livelihoods due to the financial disruption caused by the pandemic remain a huge challenge in the fight against the deadly virus.
As a way forward, Ezama noted that; “We are going to need the whole of society approach for everyone to pull their weight in this fight and urged the media to give the community vital information and encourage them to comply with the SOPs."
Edroma urged the corporates and development partners to rally behind the ministry of Health and support the fight against the virus; “To the corporates out there, let us support this endeavour and put the weight of our brands behind this cause. At MTN, we are promoting the use of masks and other SOPs in order to prevent the spread of the virus because COVID is real.”