As part of an effort to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC), has launched the ‘Powerful H.A.N.D’ campaign targeted at states with high COVID-19 cases within the country.
The Director-General, NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, at the launch on Wednesday in Abuja, said that the campaign aimed to increase the number of Nigerians who practice COVID-19 preventive measures which includes regular hand washing.
According to Ihekweazu, the campaign will be carried out in six states: Lagos, Oyo, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Rivers as well as the FCT.
“This will last for an initial period of four months while communicating the main message that “THE POWER TO STOP COVID-19 IS IN OUR H.A.N.D.S,” Ihekweazu said.
The NCDC boss noted that the pandemic had led to the rapid development of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines showing how remarkable human capacity was to build on years of existing research to bring about exponential scientific innovation.
He, however, added that the H.A.N.D campaign, which was a National Social and Behaviour Change Campaign and simpler to curb the spread of the virus.
“H – Have your hands washed or sanitised frequently
A – Always cough or sneeze into your elbow
N – No going out without face mask
D – Distance of at least two arm’s lengths should be maintained
S – Stay indoors and self-isolate if you feel sick,” he said.
Iheakweazu said although the pandemic fatigue was understandable, it was important for everyone to continue to adhere to all non-pharmaceutical measures already put in place.
“Wash your hands with soap and water, use alcohol-based sanitisers, ensure physical distancing, do not attend large gatherings, especially those without adherence to COVID-19 protocol,” he said.
In his remarks, the United Nation’s Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, said although the number of cases in Nigeria was reducing, the risk of transmission persisted.
He noted that the risks came along with the emerging COVID-19 variants from countries such as India and South Africa.
Kallon said this called for the need to sustain the gains already made in the nation’s response to the pandemic to ensure there was no resurgence.
“There is no better time than now to empower and encourage people to sustain the practise of preventive behaviours to protect themselves and loved ones from the scourge of COVID-19.
“We are optimistic that this campaign will rekindle families, friends and children’s efforts to contain the transmission of COVID-19,” he said.
The country representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Peter Hawkins, said the pandemic had overcome many people’s lives around the world.
Hawkins said Nigeria must not be complacent to prevent the COVID-19 situation witnessed in other countries.
He said that the timing of the campaign was right as it ‘hands’ over the power to stop the COVID-19 pandemic to the people.
“The vaccine is here in Nigeria and the campaign is going well but it will be a long time before the campaign can be fully implemented.
“With our hands, only with our hands can we defeat this pandemic,” he added.
Speaking also at the launch, the Executive Director of Centre for Communication and Social Impact (CCSI), Ms. Babafunke Fagbemi, said that the campaign was starting now to sustain gains already made in the fight against the pandemic.
Fagbemi said that the Nigeria infectious disease centre had done tremendous work to ensure the country recorded low cases as compared to others.
She added that it was pertinent to inject people with the latest information to rebuild hope and give confidence to fighting the pandemic.