Participants at the one-day training workshop organised by DIG-F in Abakaliki
Development Integrity Goals-Foundation (DIG-F), a Non Governmental Organization has organised a one-day orientation training for 15 Community Inte-Religious Public Health Promoters (CIR-PHP) in Ebonyi.
The training which held on Thursday in Abakaliki was aimed at equipping participants on skills for promotion and facilitation of awareness of COVID-19 and other public health concerns in the state.
The trainees drawn from leaders of different religious groups including Christianity, Islam and traditional religion were trained on the use of dialogue to enhance awareness to compliance to COVID-19 protocols among their adherents and other members of public.
Mr Oliver Aja, Executive Director, DIG-F, addressing participants said that the orientation training was a project anchored on Facilitating Awareness and Inter Religious Response on Public Health Concerns (FAIR-PHC) in Nigeria.
He noted that COVID-19 has become a global challenge that has posed severe economic, social and health constraints to all nations including Nigeria the hence, the FAIR-PHP project.
Aja said that lack of inter-religious synergy in response to public health issues including the COVID-19 outbreak was a challenge to Ebonyi.
According to him, the lack of inter-religious synergy has led to non involvement of religious leaders in the COVID-19 prevention programmes, adding that it had excluded many of these leaders from contributing in the fight against the pandemic and public health promotion.
“If religious leaders who are fully trusted by their followers are actively participating and building synergy with government and healthcare stakeholders on public health promotion, greater number of citizens will receive accurate information about public health concerns.
“If citizens receive and believe in accurate and timely public health information from their trusted leaders, it will lead to a change in behaviour and mass compliance with public health instructions which will lead to healthy citizens and healthy nation,” Aja said.
He added that many religious leaders have numerous followers who only believed in whatever their leaders say or do.
Aja explained that involving religious leaders and faith-based organisations would enhance campaign for public health promotion as provided by the National Health Promotion Policy (NHPP).
He noted that poverty, ignorance and low awareness about COVID-19 in addition to fake news and misinformation being spread through offline and online media platforms posed serious concerns.
“This has led to non adherence to COVID-19 precautionary measures put in place by government including wearing of nose masks; use of hand sanitizers, social distancing and regular handwashing under running water among others.
“Many religious faithful keep saying that the virus is not their portion nor for the children of God; that COVID-19 is for the rich and that it is ‘scam’.
“Hence, we believe that with greater awareness and sensitisation, the people will get more information and comply with approved precautionary protocols,” he said.
The Summitnews reports that the training programme organised by DIG-F was supported by the King Abdula-Azeez International Centre for Inter – Religious, Inter-Cultural Dialogue (KAICIID).
Our correspondent reports that the foundation donated tap-fitted (Veronica) buckets, liquid soaps, hand sanitizers to participants to keep in public places at their various areas of operations.