In partnership with World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, the government of Gambia orientates faith leaders in mainstreaming the fight against COVID- 19
The training follows a workshop held with 15 members of the Islamic Supreme Council, Christian Council, Ahmadiyya Jamaat, and other religious groups on the 15th of January 2021 in Banjul. The aim was to intensify the fight against COVID-19 by targeting heads of religious movements. Religious leaders are essential to enlighten followers in adhering to COVID-19 basic guidelines—handwashing, social distancing, and wearing facemasks.
Mr. Demba Jallow, Secretary of Administration in the Islamic Supreme Council of The Gambia, propagated for religious leaders' involvement, saying they play an essential role in information dissemination in the society. He said,
“We were lagging behind, and they have now realized that together as a nation, we can win the battle against COVID-19. People respect religious leaders; hence they should take a leading role in educating communities using interpersonal communication,”
These sentiments resonate with the COVID-19 Strategy for risk communication and community engagement, which the Ministry of Health developed with support from WHO, UNICEF, and other UN agencies.
The training of religious leaders revealed their willingness to ensure COVID-19 behavior change, but this will become successful with the availing of hand sanitizers and facemasks to people.
Mr. . Demba Jallow added,
“We call for the government and the UN to support with masks, soap, and hand sanitizers for our congregants. We need to reinforce social distancing in our mosques following expectations of the Islam,”
Mr. Sunkary Badjie, Principal Community Development Officer from the Department of Community Development, also echoed similar views. He said,
“Religious leaders will instill teachings on COVID-19 guidelines. They might face challenges on preventive materials such as masks and hand sanitizers, soap, and other detergents in Churches and Mosques.”
Radio and Television programs with religious leaders in local languages will equally help raise COVID-19 awareness.