Care International in Ghana and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) have trained key stakeholders in the Ashanti Region on COVID-19 risk communication.
The two-day training formed part of a 12-month project dubbed, “Stop COVID-19 Spread Initiative” in selected cocoa-growing communities and aimed at mitigating the impact of COVID-19 and to enhance the livelihoods of vulnerable cocoa farmer households.
With funding from MARS Incorporated, the training sought to increase the capacity of participants on COVID-19 risk communication to enhance service delivery.
It was attended by representatives from the GHS, Centre for National Culture, National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Red Cross Society, Information Service Department and the Media.
Mr Emmanuel Mensah Gyarteng, Project Manager of the Initiative, said it was important to build the capacity of stakeholders to handle communication at their respective levels by disseminating key messages on COVID-19 that government was developing.
He said participants should be able to develop and disseminate jingles and radio programmes to promote key messages on COVID-19 as well as sensitising the public on behavioural change to reduce the risk of transmission.
Touching on the implementation of the main project, Mr Gyarteng said 1,200 members of organized community structures in 60 communities would be trained on early detection, reporting and support of COVID-19 and gender-based violence cases.
“We shall establish 90 Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) for cocoa farmers and support women’s groups in 30 communities with integrated COVID-19 measures and education.
He also spoke of plans to conduct a Cohort Livelihoods Assessment and Risk Analysis (CLARA) to individual and household needs, capacities, preferences and, aspirations.
Mr Gyarteng further indicated that the project would support livelihoods diversification and provide one-off cash transfers for assets replacements or capital to start up to restore previous livelihood activities.
Mr Felix Frimpong, the Regional Health Promotion Officer, said communication was an important component in managing any infectious disease outbreak and essential in the event of a pandemic.
He said accurate and timely information at all levels was critical to minimise unwanted and unforeseen social disruption and economic consequences.
Effective communication, he said, should command attention, have clarity and be consistent to achieve the desired results.
“Crisis, outbreak and emergency communication follows the same principles as risk communication. These, however, calls for urgent and immediate action,” he said.