By Michael Olugbode
Borno State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Usman Kadafur has said there was need to demystify COVID-19 and de-stigmatise those affected by the pandemic in order to win the battle against the disease.
The Deputy Governor, while explaining the reason for the recent collaboration of the Borno State Government with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to launch a campaign tagged “COVID-19 Heroes Campaign” aimed at demystification of COVID-19 and putting a stop to the stigmatisation by the public of those affected by the pandemic, said those that suffered the disease should be celebrated rather than stigmatised by all.
Speaking yesterday on the programme, Kadafur said it was launched on May 29, 2019 in Borno to recognise and designate survivors of COVID-19 as heroes and heroines .
Kadafur, who is also the Chairman of the State Task Force on COVID-19 Response, said that the campaign aimed to demystify and de-stigmatise COVID-19 survivors by declaring them heroes and heroines of a disease that has claimed 25 lives as at the time of the launching of COVID-19 Heroes Campaign in Borno.
He said: “In Borno State, where insurgency has caused enormous internal displacements for many people, loss of jobs and lives for others, it is only heroes and heroines that can survive a combination of these life-threatening conditions coupled with COVID-19 infection. This is the reason why the government recognizes the COVID-19 survivors as heroes and heroines.”
Of the survivors, Kadafur said: “You have become the beacon of truth that COVID-19 is real. You have become the symbol of hope that COVID-19 can be survived even as the preventive vaccine is underway. You have proved that our isolation centres are active and functional. You have defeated COVID-19. For that, I declare you “Heroes and Heroines”.
He however cautioned the survivors that despite their current negative status, they still needed to observe preventive etiquettes including regular hand washing under running water with soap or use of hand sanitisers, social distancing of at least two metres, covering of cough and sneezes, using face mask and avoiding crowded areas.
Meanwhile, the WHO State Coordinator in Borno, Dr. Musa Audu has reiterated WHO’s commitment to supporting the state to rapidly control the COVID-19 outbreak which has already affected eight Local Government Areas (LGAs).
He said: “WHO is coordinating partners’ response as well as providing technical and financial support to the Ministry of Health to actively search for suspected cases of COVID-19 in the communities,”
Presently, WHO is supporting local healthcare workers to trace contacts, manage confirmed cases on isolation and screen travelers at 28 entry points into Borno state. In addition, the Organisation is supporting the State to implement risk communication and surveillance activities, strengthen logistics, provide mental healthcare services to people in need and build the capacities of local healthcare workers.
“Since the beginning of the response in Borno state, WHO has built the capacity of more than 1000 healthcare workers including medical doctors, pharmacists, epidemiologists, nurses, health education officers and community health extension workers,” Audu said.
Borno state is at the centre of a decade-old insurgency in north-east Nigeria which has claimed several lives and displaced millions of people internally.