Employees of bp, a multinational oil and gas and Castro Africa, a lubricants manufacturing company and others have commenced a campaign to encourage Africans to make their own face masks from local materials.
The initiative is to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Others such as Senegalese cultural icon, Youssou N’Dour and South Africa’s Rugby World Cup winning captain, Francois Pienaar were among the masked faces supporting #MakeYourMask” African initiative.
The community initiative campaign tagged ‘Make Your Mask,’ according to bp and Castrol Africa employees, were borne out of the realisation that in some parts of Africa it was impossible to keep ‘socially distanced’ from each other.
A statement explained that given that a large share of Africa’s urban population and poor live in crowded settlements, sharing conveniences like toilets and bathrooms, it becomes impracticable for many in that condition to observe social distancing rules.
“However, for such communities and poor African states, maintaining personal hygiene and wearing of masks among maintaining other personal hygiene were better options to stay COVID 19 spread.
“To reduce the spread of coronavirus, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a homemade face mask alongside frequent hand washing and social distancing.
“bp and Castrol employees have created a positive, engaging information campaign to help get the CDC’s message out,” the statement added.
It explained that the campaign includes a social media Make Your Mask 30 Second Challenge; community awareness through posters, radio, and other media; targeted engagement with community leaders, officials, and influential people; plus, a range of other local initiatives across Africa.
Richard Heron, bp’s chief medical officer said: “During this global humanitarian crisis, bp wants to play a part in the fight against coronavirus, particularly in the regions where we operate.
“Our bp and Castrol Africa employees feel passionately that the creation and dissemination of simple educational materials around the making and wearing of homemade facemasks, along with reminders on frequent hand washing and social distancing could make a real difference. “These efforts are especially relevant for saving lives in places facing challenges with overcrowding, poverty and stretched healthcare systems.”
Pienaar said “I am helping to fight COVID-19. Will you?”
The group enjoined participants to showcase their homemade mask on social media using #MakeYourMask.