"Despite the prevention measures enacted by the government, people are struggling to respect them, which represents a great risk for the spread of the pandemic. This is mainly due to the lack of belief in the disease by people," says Abdoulaye Sidi Dicko, a 26-year-old doctor and member of a youth movement supported by Plan International in Mali.
To raise awareness of COVID-19, we are using the radio to broadcast useful information in several languages to reach as many people as possible. Child-friendly awareness raising messages have been developed which are broadcast to children through 10 radio stations in Yanfolila and Bougouni districts.
In partnership with the youth movement, we are also producing an interactive radio show on COVID-19 which is transmitted by six local stations and can be picked up across the country.
The radio show is hosted by a group of young people, including Abdoulaye. The programme discusses the origins of the coronavirus, its modes of transmission, preventive measures and management of positive cases. Listeners can call in to ask questions or clarifications.
"I have heard many stories about this pandemic, and I didn't know which ones were true and which were false. I called the programme to ask questions and I was enlightened. It's very informative and reassuring. It helped me learn how to protect myself and others and the role of the health services," said one listener.
Plan International recognises the transformative power of young people, which is why this programme is made by young people, for young people. "In addition to this programme, we organise debates on the virus with our peers," says Abdoulaye.
The round table discussions provide young people with a way to share their knowledge and also their fears about the disease. Through this platform, young people learn more about the pandemic and how to establish awareness and information activities in response to COVID-19. Their ideas are then submitted to Plan International which feeds into our response plan.
"These awareness raising activities have enabled us to reach the majority of people in Bougouni, particularly young people. Today, we can safely say that our activities have been successful because mindsets are changing about the disease. Many people now believe in it and are respecting the barrier measures which are there to protect themselves and others," says Abdoulaye.
In addition to our awareness raising activities, Plan International is producing and distributing thousands of washable face masks for use in the communities where access to personal protective equipment is limited. We are also supporting vulnerable households with food aid, developing an action plan to strengthen the capacity of health workers dealing with COVID-19 cases and distributing handwashing kits.