The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined the meaning of a global health faced by humanity

Shillong, June 2:To address the prevailing low levels of awareness around COVID-19 vaccine, and misinformation and myths causing hesitancy, Dr Madhulika Jonathan, Chief of  UNICEF’s Office for Assam and North East engaged with Mr. Metbah Lyngdoh, Speaker of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly over a video conference, and discussed areas of technical support, including a public awareness campaign.

The Hon’ble Speaker agreed to collaborate with UNICEF on a COVID Warriors public awareness campaign, and engage all Members of Legislative Assembly  in the same.

The aim of the campaign will be to raise awareness on COVID19 among constituents, convene meetings with influencers to support awareness efforts, and review and monitor preparedness at the constituency levels.

UNICEF’s technical support will include providing critical communication material that will be disseminated through the Assembly channel and other media, with active participation from the Speaker and MLAs across party lines.

Information on COVID-19, including types of masks to use, COVID Appropriate Behaviours (CAB),vaccines, mental health, home isolation and care, strains of the virus, helpline numbers, among others, would be reemphasized through efforts of MLAs, who will be encouraged to disseminate using digital and offline media, work with influencers within their constituencies like tribal leaders, business leaders, teachers among others, and lead community-level initiatives to spread awareness and also monitor preparedness.

The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined the meaning of a global health crisis and is a challenge being faced by humanity today.

The entire country, including Meghalaya, is witnessing the second wave along with a surge in infections and fatalities. There are already speculations of a third wave that may impact children the most. This has led to a scenario wherein the overall health infrastructure is overwhelmed in an unprecedented manner.

In a separate discussion convened by MLA, Dr Ampareen Lyngdoh with MLAs from constituencies falling under the districts, East Khasi Hills and Ri-bhoi, UNICEF got an opportunity to present the current preparedness and response of the state, and the technical support that is being provided by UNICEF’s health team in Meghalaya.

Some of the points raised by the MLAs that needed immediate attention included systems strengthening especially in hard to access, rural districts, mapping of infrastructure required, third wave, and more communication on the roles and responsibilities of officials for public knowledge.

The active participation of MLAs in reaching out to their constituents can help curb the chain of transmission. As per research, we know that COVID-19 spreads through the aerosols of an infected person, and it can spread fast.

However, new mutants can also increase the rate and severity of the infection. In both the situations, it is important to prevent the spread by following COVID Appropriate Behaviours and taking the vaccine when the turn comes.

Dr Lyngdoh is among the few MLAs who have disseminated key information on COVID19 behaviours and guidelines of issues like home isolation, facts about COVID19 etc through her social media channels, and also has been engaging with Heads of schools in her constituency to leverage online classes to disseminate content to raise awareness among children, and their parents.

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