As the World battles to overcome the Novel COVID -19 Virus which has taken a toll on global and local health systems, young people are demonstrating their continued leadership and rising up to meet the challenge of this pandemic in their communities.
In Lagos Nigeria, two young men; Kenneth Okonkwo Chukwuebuka and Paul Okoye initiated the Eko COVID -19 Prevention Hygiene Project with Support from The Pollination Project, USA. This project was aimed to help in reducing the local transmission and spread of COVID-19 in Lagos State being the epicenter of the virus in Nigeria, through the distribution of free Protective Healthcare Materials such as face masks, hand sanitizers, hand gloves, disinfectants and soaps across vulnerable and underserved communities in Lagos State.
As the number of confirmed cases keeps rising in the country, of particular concern is how COVID-19 might affect people in precarious environments, such as the homeless persons, people living in high-density slums and those in low-income and under-served communities in Lagos state, Nigeria, as records have shown that over 60% of the residents of Lagos live in over 100 slums and informal settlements scattered across the city. These people live under harsh, unhygienic and overcrowded conditions, where access to healthcare, social amenities and safe water is already compromised. Many of them live below the poverty line and could not afford protective healthcare materials such as nose masks, sanitizes, disinfectants, and soaps. This makes them particularly vulnerable during this health crisis.
If COVID-19 starts to be transmitted in fragile settings like these, it will be practically impossible to curtail.
“When we visited these slums in Lagos State, we observed that people living in these areas were not really doing their best to curtail the spread of this virus. And this was self-evident in the way many of them still go about their daily businesses, social and spiritual activities without any regard for social distancing rules. It is even sad that some still believe that the whole COVID-19 situation is nothing but a ruse and an attempt by the government to embezzle money,” Kenneth asserted.
“Nonetheless, if we are going to stand a chance against the spread of the virus in these underserved communities, it is very important to ensure that they have the means to protect themselves (including self-isolation in case of contact with a person infected with COVID-19) and ensuring access to safe water, soaps, hand sanitizes and face masks while also educating them about the virus, it’s protective measures (such as washing their hands often), and this was the sole reason the project was initiated,” he added.
They partnered with Pharmacist Kingsley Chizoba Okonkwo of Pharmakings Nig. Ltd and Dr P.A Okoye; Chief Medical officer of Odyras Hospital to distributed 5,000 face masks, 5,000 hand gloves, 500 Sanitizers, 200 disinfectants and 2,000 soaps in Casco, Agboju and Moradeyo Communities in Amuwo Odofin, and at Ijegun Community in Alimosho LGA, Lagos over a period of one week starting from Monday May 11th to Saturday May 15, 2020. Dr. Okoye and Mr. Kingsley being Healthcare experts conducted brief hygiene training sessions at each household; they sensitized them about the virus and addressed safe water behavioral habits and any misinformation arising from Covid-19. The project reached 2,000 households and directly impacting over 5,000 people and indirectly impacting over 10,000 people.