Start where you are: Lessons on community-led COVID-19 relief efforts

Some PPE donated to healthcare workers at the isolation facilities. Photo source: Health Hub Africa
Members of Health Hub Africa at the collapsed Ita Faaji building site with victims. Photo source: Health Hub Africa
Image credit: Health Hub Africa
Health workers are having to use cloth face masks as their PPE. This is inadequate to protect healthworkers at the frontline. Photo source: Ron Ikpe
Health Hub Africa present relief materials at Ita Faaji in March 2019. Photo source: Health Hub Africa
Image credit: Health Hub Africa
Image credit: Nigeria Health Watch
  1. Collaboration: There is strength in numbers. Health Hub Africa has given me the opportunity to meet and collaborate with great minds on several projects, and support the work of other members and the incredible brands that they are building; Doctoora, Wellvis, Dr. Fidelis Egemba (Aprokodoctor) , Smile With Me Foundation, Firmcare Diagnostics, Mymedicines.com. These are all run by Health Hub Africa members. There is a great need for healthcare workers, and for any community of practice in Nigeria, to come together to collaborate, to achieve greater impact.
  2. Accountability and Trust: Dealing with public funds is very sensitive. Integrity demands I should be accountable with any resources in my trust. It gave me profound joy to see members of the Nigerian public trust fellow Nigerians they had never met with their money, against many common stereotypes. Working with accountable individuals gave me hope that one day we will get things right in Nigeria. A community led response must be accountable to build trust.
  3. Community perception: Our contributions to some degree, contributed to a positive image of doctors and other healthcare workers. Contrary to the image of Nigerian doctors and health workers as people known mainly for incessant strike actions, our ability to mobilize as a community of health workers and reach out to solve challenges in our society provided a refreshingly different narrative. It is important for community led efforts to be perceived favourably by the communities they are working with to raise funds or to support.
  4. Determination: Where there is a will, there is always a way. Busy healthcare workers squeezed out time to coordinate all the activities, visit sites, donate blood, go to market to purchase items and ensure delivery to their various destinations. While government, donors and big businesses do their part, communities can also play an integral role in working together to keep the ground level response going.
  5. Humanity: We are humans first. This was my most profound lesson. The speed with which different people came together to help following the building collapse, without asking questions really touched me. For COVID-19, we must again come together and help. Many families are struggling with how to feed, health facilities still need PPE and other resources, prevention messages need to be carried to every part of our country. It is heartwarming to see initiatives springing up all around to respond to these pressing needs at community level. At a time like this, this is the only way to be human, and I hope we maintain it.
COVID-19 PPE for Oyo Isolation Centre being received. Photo source: Health Hub Africa
Africa Health hub members donating medical consumables to Onikan General Hospital. Photo source: Health Hub Africa

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We use informed advocacy and communication to influence health policy and seek better health and access to healthcare in Nigeria. nigeriahealthwatch.com

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Nigeria Health Watch

Nigeria Health Watch

We use informed advocacy and communication to influence health policy and seek better health and access to healthcare in Nigeria. nigeriahealthwatch.com

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