In the wake of an Ebola crisis and the shadows of Covid-19 health partners aligned to highlight and consolidate models and cooperations designed to successfully drive health interventions and the implementation of rapid behavior change actions for prevention and control of the diseases in Kampala and Wakiso districts.
The session brought together high-level stakeholders including Prof. Myriam Sidibe the Chair of the National Business Compact on Coronavirus and Founder of Brands on a Mission and Dr. Patrick Karugusi – Country Director of Amref Health Africa Uganda. Also present were Ricky Thompson Co-founder and Director of SafeBoda, a motorcycle hailing service, and Ms. Joanita Mukasa MD Unilever Uganda.
The meeting with the CEOs was led by Prof. Myriam Sidibe. Also speaking during the gathering, Prof. Sidibe urged people to understand and embrace handwashing as it represents a first-line defense against diseases like Covid-19, Ebola and beyond. She was furthermore featured on prime time TV after the event.
Doctor Patrick Karugusi the Country Manager – Amref Health Africa in Uganda who is leading the HBCC partnership in Uganda praised the partnerships created with other entities while noting that Amref-NBCC values the contributions made by various partners in order to create a better change in health matters – an aspiration of HBCC and a vision that Amref works towards every day. He added that despite a focus on Kampala and Wakiso districts that were hit hard by Covid-19 the 6-month duration of the program will amplify the interventions of HBCC1 including handwashing and accelerate a vaccine uptake especially for the youth who are now the main target group of the Government.
To help achieve these goals, Amref-NBCC will support the Ministry of Health and partner with Kampala City Council Authority as well as the Wakiso district leadership to reduce and fight the spread of Covid-19 and prevent the spread of Ebola.
Running a motorcycle-hailing app, Mr. Ricky Thomson and his business rely heavily on observance and adherence to the concerns raised by experts on containing the spread of Covid-19 and Ebola. Through his platform, Mr. Thomson promised to create awareness among his riders and customers by leveraging message dissemination through the Safe-boda app. Key among these messages is the focus on correct ways to wash hands, masking up, sanitizing, and deploying WASH stations in different boda stages.
Unilever Uganda MD Ms. Joanita Mukasa highlighted the multitude of health problems associated with poor hygiene. She observed, “to sort most of these health problems, we must first sort out our behavior.” Ms. Mukasa further emphasized the need to teach children and normalize general hygiene practices like brushing, bathing, and washing hands so that they may carry them forward into adulthood. Looking at children as a blank canvas, she noted, children are the best people to start these behavior change campaigns adding her organization currently works with over 250 schools towards promoting the campaign.
During the meeting, a live stream supported by Pulse Media in Uganda made it possible for the participants in the meeting to witness and join the community led handwashing activities in Kazo Angola where Amref-NBCC is implementing the HBCC 2 program. Amref Uganda were selecting Global Handwashing Day CEOs including children with disabilities awarded with prizes and certificates who demonstrated proper handwashing during the live stream.
From the meeting, the partners resolved to involve media houses and social media platforms to amplify and rally the campaign message. Further, the partners agreed to involve children in the campaign while working on changing the mindset by creating an anthem, especially for the boda-boda industries in Uganda. In addition, they committed to putting WASH stations in diverse locations and promoting vaccination, especially in Kampala and Wakiso districts among many other interventions.