Amref-NBCC Tanzania applies interpersonal communication in disease prevention

Reusable face masks
November 25, 2022

Unilever and HBCC through Amref Tanzania carried out a two-day interpersonal communication (IPC) refresher session in Ilmela District regarding Covid-19 and other diseases like Ebola, Cholera, and diarrhea. The session focused on primary school children through their SWASH clubs and enabled hundreds of them to go through an intense and interactive two-day engagement period on matters of behavior change.

According to Amref-NBCC Tanzania's lead, Engineer James Mturi, the decision to channel the training through school children was very deliberate as they are adaptive to change and are also good change agents for our communities. Unlike with adults, while working with children, the messages needed for realizing the IPC can be communicated in many creative ways. Adults are mostly already set in their ways so the same exercise needs different communication models.

The training sessions were focused on creating more awareness among students regarding the required, preventative measures to avoid preventative and communicable diseases – day one offered theory, and day two was set aside for practice.

Awareness amongst students on hand hygiene and prevention of Covid-19 was raised through the PASSWORD campaign. Children re-learned the practices of the campaign of proper handwashing with soap, wearing face masks, and social distancing. Further, the facilitators educated the students on vaccine uptake as one of the mitigations against Covid-19.

Through these sessions, the team went a step further to compose a song about the different steps of proper handwashing that the children sang to as they washed their hands. This not only makes the session memorable, but it also imprints the steps in them to follow and teach others

Further, the trainings aim to look at local solutions which can be employed in the fight against the pandemic and other diseases. At the end, the children made reusable face masks using locally available materials and experiencing the various steps from identifying the right materials to cutting, stitching, and cleaning their face masks.

Kahama primary school pupils making reusable face masks

The outcome of the trainings is exciting. In the end over 2,204 students participated in the IPC training and 60 SWASH club members learned and practiced the making of reusable face mask. Furthermore, 250 children practiced proper handwashing in front of other students following all the learned steps required during proper handwashing.

Lesson learned

Children are good agents of change as they can spread awareness at the family level and among their peers. Further creating awareness through children is an effective way since they love to learn new things especially if practical learning is involved. However, challenges do remain, inadequate access to WASH facilities in schools hinders students to practice proper handwashing frequently.

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