In North Darfur, Save the Children uses mobile loudspeakers and local radios to raise awareness of COVID-19 prevention measures. Credit: Save the Children.
COVID-19 in Sudan: Life-saving Messages Reach North Darfur, South Kordofan to Halt Spread of Virus
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (March 31, 2020) – A fleet of Save the Children vehicles equipped with loudspeakers and signboards is moving through North Darfur and Kordofan in Sudan this week, sharing messages about handwashing, social distancing and other ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Save the Children recruited a local drama group to bring life and animation to the messages, which are also being played on local radios as well as fixed loudspeakers.
In front of a hospital in Kordofan, Save the Children teams demonstrated social distancing while distributing leaflets on COVID-19 prevention. The teams also posted banners on walls and broadcast messages on loudspeakers.
The international humanitarian organization is also partnering with a location telecommunications company, Zain-Sd, to send SMS cards with COVID-19 awareness messages across Sudan in coming days. Zain-Sd has the highest number of subscribers of any telecom company in Sudan. It is expected that the messages will reach more than 5 million people by the end of next week.
The mobile messaging squad is part of a range of activities taking place in Sudan to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as cases rose dramatically across Africa this week. To date there have been more than 5,255 confirmed cases across at least 47 countries in Africa, with Sudan reporting six confirmed cases, including two deaths.
Save the Children is working closely with the Sudanese Ministry of Health to distribute facemasks and hand sanitizers to all health facilities in the region, with 1,200 masks distributed and 300 gallons of sanitizer procured to date. The agency is also working with the Ministry of Health to establish isolation centers to ensure people who test positive for the virus can recover at a safe distance from the rest of the community.
“Our teams are working around the clock to ensure children and their families get the right information to stay safe and healthy—this is a massive endeavor, in some of the most remote parts of Sudan,” said Save the Children’s Country Director in Sudan, Arshad Malik. “There is still much more to be done. Across Africa and the world, accurate and age-appropriate information is key to prevention, and yet in so many places, these messages are not coming through. Children and their families need to understand what causes the illness, what doesn’t, and the steps they can take to keep themselves safe.”
Save the Children is urging all governments to take additional steps to ensure the right information reaches vulnerable communities before case numbers increase to potentially overwhelming levels, including practical measures like:
- Ensuring all communities have access to basic sanitary supplies like safe water and soap, as well as guidance on how to use them properly to halt the spread of the virus.
- Sharing accurate and age-appropriate COVID-19 prevention information with communities via national media to give children and their families the information they need to protect themselves from infection;
- Ensuring children and families are aware of the need to practice social distancing and stay away from gathering places like workplaces and market places;
- Ensuring access to education for all children, even if schools are closed, by distance learning online or via radio, for example;
- Combatting misinformation about COVID-19 that can increase anxiety and distress among children and adults.
Save the Children is rolling out this work with the support of European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). These prevention and response efforts are in support of the Sudanese Ministry of Health.
To learn more about Save the Children’s COVID-19 response in the U.S. and around the world and how you can help, visit SavetheChildren.org/coronavirus.
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