With the Solomon Islands among the countries most vulnerable to a Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Save the Children is working closely with authorities to prepare local communities and promote safe practices.
The leading child rights organization is assisting Health Promotion Units in Guadalcanal, Malaita, Choiseul and Western Province as they work to ensure that key, and potentially life-saving messages about Covid-19 are delivered to children and their families in rural areas.
As the government acts on expert medical advice to promote personal hygiene as a key measure to prevent the introduction and spread of the disease, Save the Children’s strong relationships with more than 60 communities is proving critical to ensure the message is received.
Save the Children has arranged for Health Promotion Officers to travel to communities to speak with children and caregivers about the virus and how to protect themselves and we are distributing the government’s information posters and pamphlets right across our network.
Save the Children Solomon Islands Country Director Vanessa Zulueta said the important messages appeared to be reaching its intended audience.
“Because effective handwashing in the fight against Covid-19 is so important, Save the Children is increasing its efforts to educate children and caregivers about this life-saving practice. This work is paying off.”
During a recent trip to Papangu community in Guadalcanal, staff learned that the community had already gathered many empty mineral water bottles as part of a plan to extend “tippy tap” handwashing stations to all households in the village.
Mr Leonard Kilua who is the current Vice Chairman of the ECD centre in Papangu said that the committee took this approach because of previous work done by Save the Children during the 2014 flood response and in the promotion of health and hygiene for young children as part of ongoing ECD work:
“We have remembered the message that practicing good personal hygiene, particularly handwashing, is even more important during times of emergency and disaster because individuals are more vulnerable to illness and death from disease”.
Mr William Take, chairman of the Titiana Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre committee said the initiative helped deliver greater certainty to communities.
“We are so grateful to Save the Children for organising this awareness activity for our community. The information has helped to relieve some of the fear and confusion that our people have had about this virus.”
Ms Florence Qazamakana, Principal for Sassamugga Community High School agreed.
“Our students are now aware of the simple steps that they can take to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus.”
Save the Children has been working in the Pacific for decades and is doing all it can to help communities in Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea prepare for the COVID-19 virus, including by promoting hand washing and hygiene, and distributing soap and hand sanitiser.