In a bold effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Tanzania, PCI Tanzania
and the Mara regional government have teamed up to jointly implement interventions that will contribute to slowing spread of the disease. More than 55 million cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, and the last publicly released data from Tanzania showed the country had a total of 509 confirmed cases.
In May 2020, authorities from the Mara Region, in collaboration with PCI Tanzania, established a Regional Health Task Force to engage multiple stakeholders in a comprehensive COVID-19 response.
Among its functions, the task force coordinates the local production of hand sanitizers through trained Women Empowered (WE) groups, as well as the development of public health campaigns to raise awareness about the virus and how it can be prevented. Other key responsibilities include collaborative leadership in the region, resource allocation and distributive accountability, strategic thinking and planning amidst chaos, and support in managing quarantine and equipment procurement.
With technical and financial support from PCI, under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program (FFE III), the Mara regional government has developed a two-pronged response to the pandemic: broadcasting clinical and public health messages, and sensitizing communities on COVID-19 prevention through increased engagement.
Through this partnership, the Mara regional government has undertaken awareness campaigns and distributed Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on COVID-19 prevention measures such as handwashing, social and physical distancing and cleanliness. A total of 49 COVID-19 billboards were placed in high traffic locations of the region and 247 posters with key preventive measures have been supplied to schools and communities. Additionally, program staff developed a variety of COVID-19-related public service announcements and jingles that have aired on local radio stations for several months. These strategies have contributed to nudging communities towards positive social and behavior change concerning COVID-19 prevention.
“In the absence of ample clinical resources, we must focus on preventive measures, and it is always a challenge in any disease outbreak to get communities to change their behavior,” said Dr. Florian Tinuga, a Mara Regional Medical Officer. “During this outbreak of COVID-19, behavior change, if done systematically by banking on the technical support from the PCI team who are community-centered, we will save lives.”
Aside from these IEC efforts, PCI Tanzania trained 75 women from WE groups on hand sanitizer production, enabling them to distribute 123 liters of the germ-fighting agent to FFE III program schools and local homes across the Mara Region to improve hygiene and curb the spread of COVID-19. To enhance the capacity building of the WE groups, PCI Tanzania worked in close collaboration with the Tanzanian Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO), which has been training them to start their small group industries. In order for the WE groups’ hand sanitizers to be accepted in the marketplace, SIDO has ensured the products are of quality and adhere to national standards set by the Tanzania Bureau of Standards.
For more information about PCI’s COVID-19 response efforts across the globe, visit our Call to Action page.