Awareness raising and preventive measures in Sughd Oblast, Tajikistan

At a time when 4.5 billion people worldwide were being confined in response to the rapid spread of the COVID19 virus, ISW, with the support of Swiss Cooperation, joined forces with the Ministries of Health and Education of Tajikistan to put in place a rapid action plan on preventing the spread of the virus. Seeking to act quickly in a situation where every lost day can lead to disastrous results, a two-pronged approach has been developed to provide essential materials for the prevention of the virus as well as to raise awareness among the population on good hygiene practices.   

Drinking Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for All are at the heart of the responses to be given to meet the public health challenge posed by this pandemic.

Context 

COVID19 whose spread can be slowed by simple and inexpensive preventive measures, entered Tajikistan in early May, where the number of infected people increased fivefold in just a few days. Now better known, the virus can have a serious impact on the health of populations and on a country’s health system – especially in more vulnerable countries, such as Tajikistan, where health infrastructures are insufficient to respond to such a shock.   

The Ministries of Health and Education have therefore called on ISW, especially its Khujand-based office, to introduce preventive hygiene measures to limit the spread of the virus in the Sughd Oblast, and particularly in the Ferghana Valley, a densely populated region that shares its borders with two other countries.  

The action plan put in place is directly in line with work already done by ISW, where the measures are being implemented by a pre-existing team of trainers (composed of representatives from the Ministries of Health and Education), trained as part of our large-scale rural water supply and sanitation programme in the Ferghana Valley. 

Action plan 

The action plan is based on a two-pronged approach consisting of 1) raising awareness among the local population, and 2) technical support.   

Awareness-raising activities for the local population are intended to be immediate, ongoing and effective. One major effort is the organization of a large-scale survey, targeting 500,000 people in Sughd Oblast.  This survey will help to identify outbreaks of contagion, partially replacing the need for screening tests, and has the dual function of raising awareness and educating the population about the risks of COVID19.   

In conjunction with this effort, informative posters and stickers will be distributed in urban centres, offices, apartment buildings and schools to promote good hygiene practices. Key messages will also be disseminated through the mass media, including regional radio. Adopting a positive dissemination approach, these messages will be shared every three hours to explain what needs to be done to limit the spread of the virus, as well as to update citizens on the situation.   

At the technical level, necessary health equipment will be distributed to health centres and hospitals, schools and public places. This equipment, which includes disinfectants, masks, gloves and soap, will provide the tools necessary for health workers and citizens to apply the preventive measures to limit the spread of the virus.  

Taken together, these two components complement each other in raising awareness among citizens and institutions about what they should and should not do to protect themselves against the COVID19 virus and how to limit the spread of the virus within the population, while providing the necessary equipment to apply these preventive measures. 

Thank-you to our partners!