by Achille Tepa, Country Representative in Benin
In Benin, the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise. In the month of June alone the infections have practically doubled and as of July 13 there are 1,378 cases and 26 deaths. The data are very worrying despite the assurances of the government authorities responsible for health that they constantly urge the population to comply with safety measures.
To encourage the implementation of the various measures imposed by the Beninese government in the fight against the pandemic, Mani Tese launched a project in June to raise awareness among the populations of the municipalities of Natitingou and Toucountouna in the department of Atacora. The launch ceremony of this project was held in the presence of the Mayors of the two municipalities concerned and the representatives of the beneficiary groups who recognized and welcomed the opportunity of the various activities proposed to ensure the health of the population.
Expected over a period of three months, the active phase of the project includes specific information, education and communication activities aimed at four main categories of recipients:
From the beginning of the activities, the importance of the same was understood, based on a virus prevention logic.
Urban and rural health centers
The project distributed handwashing kits, face protection masks but also refills for the Internet connection at selected health centers to allow healthcare professionals to access essential WHO online courses and information on prevention and control of COVID-19-related infections. This last opportunity is aimed at preparing in particular the heads of health facilities to better ensure the prevention of the pandemic at the same health center.
Distribution of prevention materials and equipment in public spaces
Preventing a pandemic also requires the availability of materials and equipment, but hand washing kits are practically absent in meeting places and public services. Unfortunately, the appeal to the use of protective masks launched by the government is not effective because many do not have the opportunity to buy it or do not consider it a priority. In this context, the project distributed 500 masks to motorcycle and car taxi drivers, a very important category because it meets dozens of people every day. This action was recognized by all beneficiaries as a relief. However, the availability of masks on the market is far from being able to satisfy all needs, particularly in rural areas.
Situation in the department of Atacora
Cases are on the rise and unfortunately the situation that our operators continue to detect is of widespread unawareness and non-compliance with the protection measures by the communities, especially in meeting places such as markets, mosques, churches, bus stations, bars, etc.; these behaviors increase the risk of contagion. The population justifies this attitude with the lack of adequate information on the pandemic and in some cases, there is also a certain naivety of subjects who continue to believe that the coronavirus does not exist. Precisely for these reasons it is necessary to continue to act, supporting Mani Tese to raise awareness of the risks associated with the pandemic and to make available the equipment necessary to comply with the rules and conduct set by the country’s government.
The activities described here are part of the “Information, education and communication for the prevention of COVID-19” project created thanks to funding from the 8xmille funds of the Italian Catholic Church.
Below, photos of the distribution of hand washing kits in health centers and of awareness raising activities among taxi drivers.
My name is Achille Tepa and I was born on May 12, 1959 in Kandi (Alibori department). From 1965 to 1976, I did primary and secondary studies in Natitingou until the third year. From 1977 to 1979, I completed my secondary studies in Parakou obtaining a baccalaureate A4 (literature). In 1980, I had to perform compulsory military service, civic and patriotic while I was […]