By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The Program’s Department of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation this Friday, October 2, 2020, organized an event on how to address the present COVID-19 pandemic in the country. This symposium is under the pilot project on sensitization against COVID-19.
The event unfolded under the theme “COVID-19 Pilot Project Symposium: Community Engagement in the Fight against COVID-19 Pandemic” and was moderated by Dr Vera Kum, Research Fellow at the Nkafu Policy Institute.
Dr Gobina Ronald, Director of Nkafu COVID-19 Taskforce, speaking on the strategies government has put in place said the government set up a consolidation fund, aimed at gathering resources knowing the challenging atmosphere that was brought about by the COVID-19. “The government also provided masks, gloves at the community level to help curb the spread of the virus. These measures were received favourably by the community who in turn participated in the provision of masks, gloves, hand washing buckets at the community level. There has been community-government participation,” He said.
With the new academic year in the country that started on October 5, there is a growing fear that the virus might be spreading amongst the children. "We should be more concerned and do not expect the government to be more concerned. Parents must be a policeman for their children, making sure that they guard their children," Dr Gobina Ronald said.
"Parents should check for the measures put such as hand washing buckets and social distancing. It will be a testing venue, and everyone should give a contribution to making sure resumes without any case."
The panellists also observed that local measures need to be adapted for a particular scenario and not be generalized. The social distancing measures should be adapted to look at the local context. Dr Gobina Ronald said the decision to open schools has been weighed and that it is a good decision as schools had to be opened one day. “We cannot pretend that we can contain these children, especially taking into consideration break periods.
Panellists agreed that a strategy has to be made to reassess what has been done like in a month or so. These reassign will give officials the ability to rate whether or not the measures that were are taking are working or not, and according to them if the measures are not working officials should not be afraid to pull the plug on school resumption.
Mr Tsoplefack Marie, SG Block 10, Simbock Community, Yaounde, speaking on the North West and South West issue said measures have been taken to stop the fear making children not to go to school. He added that the government has also put in place measures to prevent COVID-19 pandemic and make a way for schools to resume without any fear.
The wearing of face coverings was amongst measures put in place by the government to stop the spread of the virus. Though some barrier measures have been relaxed, wipe off, that of the wearing of face masks has yet to be removed. This, however, is not been respected by Cameroonians across the board from ordinary persons, local authorities and others.
Inhabitants have said one of the reasons why they do not wear masks is due to it being uncomfortable. Many think wearing masks all the time will affect their health, though that has not been proven. Madam Fegue Nathalie, COVID-19 Communicator, Communication Unit at MINSANTE on this issue said she cannot put on the mask from morning till night and if she feels tired of putting on her masks, she removes it.
Fegue Nathalie also said when wearing her masks she puts it in a way that air can also pass through. This scenario of not properly wearing the face masks or those wearing it on their chin is greatly frowned on by government officials and international bodies.
The Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation have been very active in the fight against this pandemic through its COVID-19 community project. It is imperative to use existing grassroots structures, institutions; religious and traditional rulers in the sensitisation campaign that must take into account the social and cultural dynamics of the communities to obtain significant results.
Civil society organisations, CSOs through a series of projects have been engaged in the fight against this pandemic at both rural and urban levels. According to a release from the Nkafu Policy Institute, the event is to highlight the importance of the community involvement in the fight against the pandemic and to engage both community leaders and its member in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.