The Federal Government has stressed the need for continued adherence to behavioural change to sustain the successful containment of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The Director, Family Health Department, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Dr. Boladale Alonge, made the call on Monday in Abuja, during the close-out ceremony of the Hygiene and Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC 2) programme.
Alonge said that irrespective of the health status of the populace, health hygiene rules were always important.
She also said that it was very important to get people vaccinated.
“In many countries of the world, the third booster dose of COVID-19 is also on and being given to the populace so I want us as much as possible to sustain the behavioural changes and ethics of being in a large group.
“If you want to sneeze, you can still sustain the behavioural change pattern that you learnt throughout the COVID-19 period.
“In fact in some countries of the world, they use face masks throughout the year, but I wouldn’t say that we should, but if it is necessary, especially if someone has a cold, you can use your face mask to prevent other people from getting infected.
“So definitely we will continue to roll out other necessary health promotional posters and information that we need the public to adhere to because there are other infections that are ongoing throughout the year.”
While talking about the programme, the director said that it was done in collaboration with FMOH and Population Services International Nigeria, and was majorly about health promotion activities and packages, especially during the COVID-19 period.
According to her, it was a very impactful collaboration used in developing messages on the basic rules to prevent infection.
Director, Health Promotion Division, FMOH, Dr. Ladidi Bako-Aiyegbusi, said that from all indications, the nation was indeed winning the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
This, she said, was because people are being encouraged to adhere to all the preventive measures and they are complying.
She, however, said that the HBCC 2 programme (The Hygiene and Behaviour Change Coalition) supported FMOH to disseminate preventive messages against COVID-19 to Oyo, Osun, Kano, Nasarawa, Lagos states, and the Federal Capital Territory.
She added that materials were produced in English, Yoruba, and Hausa languages while radio and TV jingles were also produced in the three languages, ensuring that standard methods for health communication material development were adhered to.
“Though it focuses on five states and the FCT, we are using the messages in all the 36 states of the federation because everybody needs to get the message of COVID-19.
“So we, first of all, had the session meeting in April 2022. Then we had a three-day stakeholders meeting where we brought the existing materials on COVID-19 prevention to the table.
“Then we looked at the mandates of the projects and reviewed the existing materials. We showcased the materials to beneficiaries within the community and asked them to look at the concepts to ascertain if they were easy to understand.
The question is “Are they in line with cultural norms so that by the time they are using the materials for the campaign, they will not be rejected?”
Bako-Aiyegbusi, however, said that the close-out ceremony for the one-year programme was to get the implementers at the state levels to recount their experiences, challenges, and achievements and make recommendations about them.
The Head of Programmes, PSIN, Dr. Fatima Bunza, said “Now that the project is closing out, by virtue of the way the project was implemented, quite a number of resources were generated in partnership with the FMOH and these resources have been archived by the government at all levels.
“In addition, health promotion officers and public health officers at the state ministries of health were all part of this intervention and this will form resources for state intervention.
“Also, a virtual library has been established with all the resources for future reference by the government and other partners and by the communities.”
Dr. Isiaka Adekunle, Director, Health Planning Research and Statistics, Osun state Ministry of Health, said that the programme has helped the state in preparation for pandemics.
This, he said, was because looking at the situation all over, one of the major keys in the management of diseases, whether COVID-19 or other communicable diseases, is health promotion activities.
“So health promotion is important and concerning this particular project in Osun, it was implemented to the letter and our own way forward is how we can own the project for sustainability.
“This is so that we will no longer be depending on the activities of partners even though we know that when the partner comes with their activity it will just be an addition to what we already have on the ground in terms of health promotion activities.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the programme, which began in April 2022, would be wrapped up on Friday.