22 Apr 2020 In Togo, raising awareness about Covid-19 is complex work
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Togo, like most sub-Saharan African countries, is affected by Covid-19, although at the moment not on a large scale.
Togo has 84 confirmed cases and six deaths. However, fearing that the epidemic could spread dramatically in a country with a precarious health system, day-to-day measures are being made to prevent the disease. One of the strategies is to raise awareness so that people have as much information as possible to protect themselves from the disease.
The media have been hard at work. Secular and community radio, television, print media, online press, all are engaged in this fight against the novel coronavirus.
Radio Ephphatha, the Presbyterian Voice, is the denominational radio station of the Presbyterian Evangelical Church of Togo. It is also on the frontlines of raising awareness about Covid-19. The task is not easy. The people in Togo have always transcended their problems and suffering through faith, by trusting in a God who can do anything. And in this case, a God who can exempt them from disease. For some, respecting physical distancing measures to prevent infection is not nearly important as praying. So, we try to have programmes that explain to the listeners that you have to pray, but you also have to follow the safety guidelines. It is therefore necessary to show the compatibility between these measures and the Bible.
Since the churches are closed, the only way to reach the congregations with this message is through radio, so that the unwillingness of some not to respect the rules will not jeopardize the whole community. It is also necessary to reach the maximum amount of people, especially the vulnerable strata, by intensifying programmes in local languages.
The other element to be taken into account in the programmes is the deconstruction work to be done in relation to multiple fake news that circulate via Whatsapp and confuse everyone.
In order to achieve our goals, we involve pastors, doctors, psycho-sociologists. Beyond the disease itself, the psychosocial effects of the pandemic are being experienced by many.
More than ever, therefore, this awareness must continue so that everyone has the same understanding of the health situation, and that is the only way that the fight against Covid-19 will be effective. Because a single carrier of the virus in a remote corner is enough to cause mass contamination. — by Mathilde Kpalla, Director of Programmes at Radio Ephphatha, the Presbyterian Voice. She is also Vice President of WACC’s global board and representative of WACC’s only project partner in Togo.