Liberia: Religious Leaders Take Covid-19 Awareness to Churches

Maryland County — Religious leaders in Maryland County have joined the ongoing campaign against the spread of COVID-19, educating community residents and churches on the need to observe health protocols prescribed by the Ministry of Health.

The religious leaders, who had been trained by Partners In Health and the Maryland County Health Team, on Sunday, August 1, 2021, visited various churches and religious centers in Harper, Maryland County Electoral district#1, telling worshippers to keep wearing nose masks, regularly washing hands, and get vaccinated.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/partner-in-health-graduates-16-fellows/Editing by

In July, Partners In Health supported the Maryland County Health Team to conduct outreaches with religious and youth leaders as well as commercial motorbike riders aimed at increasing awareness of COVID-19 and promoting infection prevention control measures.

They provided information on signs and symptoms of the virus as well as which health facilities to visit when a person falls ill, including safety and efficacy of vaccination.

Participants also agreed to enter a social contract to protect themselves, their families, and communities with a shared goal to stop community transmission.

Viola Karanja, deputy executive director for Partners In Health Liberia explained, "People listen more to their spiritual leaders and that is why we have advocated going through them to spread the word on COVID-19".

County Health Officer Dr. George Methodius added "though we have our risk communication team and community health workers, health starts in the community and people believe those in the community, most especially the religious leaders. When we involve the religious community, they can go to the congregation and tell people COVID-19 is real".

After the training, a group of 12 religious leaders volunteered to visit various churches and mosques to speak to their congregations on the need to observe COVID-19 safety protocols and to also get vaccinated.

The religious leaders divided themselves into three groups with each group asked to visit a minimum of four churches every Sunday to speak to worshippers.

According to Elizabeth Jackson, women president at the Evangelical St. Peter's Lutheran Church, "Some of the churches really love the idea and have started observing the teaching of the protocols to their members."

She continued, "I have also learned a lot myself; I never knew much about hand washing and the nose mask and I wasn't using that method but now I do it."

Maryland County in recent weeks has experienced a rise in COVID-19 cases, as Liberia goes through a third wave of the pandemic.

County Health Officer Dr. George Methodius, attributes the surge to enhanced surveillance.

"We are moving into the community, encouraging people to do voluntary testing and through that, we were able to pick up more cases from the community. We have a very robust health system in Maryland and we are trying our best to test all our patients that present signs and symptoms".

For her part, Viola Karanja, PIH-Liberia deputy executive director said the involvement of religious leaders and providing churches needed preventive materials like buckets and nose masks will help in curtailing the spread of the virus.

Director Karanja assured citizens that the County Health Team together with Partners In Health will continue to support religious and youth leaders to spread information about COVID-19 protocols and putting in place measures for reliable public health information through various platforms.

In an effort to provide daily health care services to patients in and out of the county, PIH recently graduated 16 Global Action In Nursing Fellows.

The initiative conducted in collaboration with the county health team was the first of its kind since GAIN extended its nurse training and mentorship model from Malawi to Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2020, with Partners In Health (PIH) as implementing partner.

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