The Mozambican Ministries of Health and Education in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) has began a campaign in the country on awareness of the deadly coronavirus known as COVID-19 respiratory disease. The campaign is raised throughout schools to teach the student how to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 which originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan and to educate them with knowledge of basic hygiene that can make a difference in combating it should it make an appearance in Mozambique.
The first lecture was given on Monday by Health Minister Armindo Tiago and Education Minister Carmelita Namashalua, in the presence of WHO representative Djamila Cabral, at the Francisco Manyanga Secondary School in Maputo.
Tiago, breaking with Mozambican custom, did not shake hands with or embrace any of the pupils or teachers. “What we are saying is that one of the forms of transmission of COVID-19 is through handshakes”, explained Tiago. “We have to adapt to a situation where we do not shake hands, but also where we do not discriminate against anybody”.
The initiative, he said, is to ensure that all pupils receive correct information about the signs and symptoms of the disease and the methods of preventing its spread.
So far there have been no cases of the new coronavirus in Mozambique, but Tiago stressed that the country is on maximum alert. He said that efforts are underway to ensure that all of Mozambican society is prepared for COVID-19, but without causing any panic.
“Health is an individual and collective responsibility”, he said. “We have come to school because it is a place where there are many children and young people, and where there is a risk of contamination. We need to share good practices of how to avoid the disease with pupils from all the country’s schools”.
Tiago said the Mozambican health system is able to respond to the eventual appearance of coronavirus cases, “although we cannot demand that our health system responds on the same scale as countries with greater resources”.
Namashalua said the partnership between the three institutions is of vital importance for the pupils and their families, since schools are places where the disease could spread, and so the children must be armed with useful information about it.
She guaranteed that actions of the same kind will take place throughout the nation’s schools, stressing prevention based on hygiene.
“What we are doing today is just the start”, said Namashalua. The provincial and district education directorates, and the pedagogical influence zones, will all have to replicate the messages we are giving today”.
Djamila Cabral sad WHO regards children and adolescents as a priority group, with an enormous power of influence, since they can disseminate messages of prevention.
Intervention in schools is of vital importance, she said, because the threat comes not only from the virus itself, but from misinformation about the disease which creates panic and fear, and is of no use in fighting the spread of any outbreak.