How does the Covid-19 virus pass from one person to another? How can you protect yourself? What’s the best way to help people with disabilities, who are often the most vulnerable to the virus? Humanity & Inclusion (HI) provides answers.
HI drives around the streets of the capital Lomé, in northern Togo, broadcasting prevention messages through loudspeakers mounted on the roof of their vehicles.
“It works really well because people want clear information on how to protect themselves and their loved ones. There are a lot of mixed signals out there, so it’s not easy for everyone to navigate”
explains Irène Manterola, HI’s country manager in Togo.
Basic precautionary measures adapted to the most vulnerable
For many, the recommended precautionary measures are impossible to apply. What do you do if you use a wheelchair and need help washing or feeding yourself, for example?
“Social distancing, okay! But people with disabilities or older people, who normally need a caregiver or health assistant or medical assistance, can’t be left to fend for themselves because people are afraid of catching the virus. We need these people to be able to protect themselves while attending to the most vulnerable.”
Making hygiene accessible to all
The price of hygiene products in Togo has soared in recent weeks - including a seven-fold increase in the cost hydro-alcoholic gel. This makes it more difficult for people to take precautionary measures. HI’s teams have begun to make bleach and soap for hygiene kits so the poorest can continue accessing these essential items.
“We hand them out to our beneficiaries and in the poorest areas, where there is more overcrowding,”
Radio programmes to reassure the population
The Covid-19 pandemic has generated a lot of fear in Togo. To help people manage this fear, HI’s teams have recorded a series of radio programmes.
“One of the biggest problems we face is how to gauge the information: people need to know how serious the situation is without making them feel completely helpless,”
explains Irène. Building on the success of these programmes, HI is now working with the country’s union of psychiatrists and psychologists to create a free counselling helpline anyone can call.