The Central African Republic is sadly one of the countries at the end of the list on the various health indicators that are periodically drawn up by the WHO, and the covid-19 emergency has arrived here as well in the last months.
Despite the general difficulties in the country, the Ministry of Health has tried to contain the infection by implementing the necessary preventive measures. The Community of Sant’Egidio, which has had a DREAM programme centre in Bangui since June 2019, has become an important point of reference for health education, and demonstrates the correct procedures to be adopted by all the patients.
The Clinique DREAM is strategically positioned so it is accessible for many highly populated areas and it offers various healthcare services. As well as preventing and treating AIDS, it also treats many chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and epilepsy. It also offers an antenatal check-up service for pregnant women and vaccinations for children.
Every morning, lots of women come to the Clinique with their children. In this very unusual period, in addition to the regular health education, they receive specific education to prevent being infected by covid, which is for them and for their families.
Many of these women hardly knew anything about how infections are passed on and how to fight them properly. In fact there are a lot of false myths and having the correct information and good guidance is very important for them.
Every morning, the DREAM nurses and activists welcome the patients by taking their temperature, checking whether they have a cough and their general health. They then begin the health education sessions, hygiene demonstrations and how to use the devices to prevent infection.
A lot was said about disinfectant gels and alcoholic solutions, which are definitely important but often unavailable or inaccessible at the moment. Little was said however, about the importance of using soap and how to use it in order to effectively and safely prevent transmission through the hands.
During the education sessions the DREAM team noticed that the women were interested on one hand, but resigned on the other hand. Their reaction was almost unanimous: we can hardly afford to feed our children, let alone buy soap!
So this was the idea: every day the patients who come for routine check-ups are given soap for themselves and for their families, and this way we will reach 2,000 people a month. Fortunately covid is spreading very slowly in the Central African Republic and a lot can be done with prevention! So washing your hands is no longer just a slogan but a concrete fight against the epidemic, which everyone can do.