When it comes to coronavirus prevention and response, displaced people and those living in refugee camps face a different set of challenges than most. Even in the best of times, access to information—especially when it comes to healthcare—can be difficult to come by. Oftentimes, refugee camps are physically cut off from other communities, in isolated areas with only service providers coming and going. Many people have cell phones, but the vast majority of people in refugee camps do not have access to a computer. Our Alight teams are implementing social distancing measures and setting up things like hands-free washing stations, but without the power of information behind it, those measures simply won’t be as effective.
It’s hard for people to know who to trust and what to believe. That’s why Alight teams across the globe are stepping up as guides in this crisis, delivering a set of health messages designed alongside our partner IDEO.org, that gives people more information about COVID-19—particularly vulnerable and marginalized people. Created from WHO guidelines, these health images and messages have been translated into many different languages and are available for use by anyone, with the goal to reach people who aren’t otherwise being reached.
But not everyone gets their information from the same sources. Through these eight steps, we’re covering our bases, ensuring that no matter how refugees and displaced people are receiving information about COVID-19, we’re there to provide it.
1. Social Media
Even if refugees don’t have consistent access to a smartphone or computer, many people, especially of younger generations, have social media profiles and hear the news from platforms like Facebook and Instagram. And it’s crucial that the information shared is accurate, especially during a global pandemic.
So equipped with our specially designed COVID-19 health messaging, we reached out to social media influencers in the countries where we work and beyond, asking them to share messages on their own social media channels. Since these influencers already have millions of followers, they’re the perfect partners to spread the word quickly.
Through their combined communities, #InOurHands social media influencers have reached out to 80 million people—and counting!
In many places where we work, not everyone has had access to a traditional education. As a result, illiteracy rates sometimes soar into the 70% range, making written information inaccessible to the majority of the population. Knowing this, we adapted our COVID-19 health messaging to work for radio, spreading the message over the airwaves and reaching even the most remote areas.
In Zambia, our Catholic Sister partners took to the microphone, talking to people about coronavirus symptoms and busting harmful myths. They reached an astounding 1.5 million listeners with their broadcast! In Pakistan, where education is our bread and butter, Alight teams have even adapted school lessons for teachers, making sure that kids aren’t missing out on learning even at home.
3. TV Ads
The goal of our messaging campaign is to reach people where they’re at, and through as many forms as possible. So if you’re not on social media or listening to the radio, then you might catch one of our TV ads in the countries where we work and beyond.
Country teams are taking the lead. Our Alight Pakistan Country Director, Dr. Tariq Cheema, appeared on the news in May, discussing Alight’s COVID-19 response through the #InOurHands health messaging campaign. The team is also engaging local TV personalities to share #InOurHands content to reinforce health messaging as lockdown restrictions begin to ease throughout the country.
Between just radio and TV ads, our coronavirus messaging content has reached well over 8,000,000 people!
4. Door to Door
Of course, there are some remote, hard-to-reach communities that don’t have reliable access to the internet, TV, or radio. But, in many ways, those are the communities who need this messaging the most, and who are most at risk—places like Somalia and South Sudan.
So we’re equipping our teams with the safety gear they need—like face masks, hand sanitizer, rubber gloves, and more—and getting out into the community. We’re going door to door, sharing critical COVID-19 prevention information and answering any questions that people might have.
5. Health Center Awareness-Raising
One of the many things we do around the world is run primary, secondary, and maternal clinics in both refugee camps and displaced communities. In these clinics, our patients already look up to us as providers of healthcare information, guidance, and support.
So it’s a natural fit for our healthcare practitioners to share COVID-19 prevention messaging, too. As patients wait to be seen by clinicians, our nurses spread the word about social distancing, prevention measures, and the symptoms of the coronavirus. When they’re in the doctor’s office, doctors help bust any myths they might have about the virus and answer any questions. As trusted providers, communities come to us for knowledge and accuracy in a time of competing information and confusion.
6. Posters, Signs, and More
In many refugee camps around the world, we run health clinics, water systems, provide counseling services, and more. These are all points of service where people are coming to us, visiting our clinics or offices. In those moments, we have an opportunity to share information, even if it’s just while standing in line to fill a jerrycan, waiting with your kids at the doctor’s office, or sitting in a counseling session.
That’s why we created specially designed In Our Hands posters with coronavirus prevention messages, easily hung or posted in any office space, building, or service point. It’s just one more opportunity for refugees to access this potentially life-saving information.
Sometimes, the simplest way to spread a message is the best way. And, especially in areas where illiteracy levels are high, we need to make sure that everyone—no matter what their reading level—can hear the message loud and clear.
In certain areas, we’re using megaphones attached to vehicles or while walking through camps to spread the message. Like in Somalia, in camps for internally displaced people where illiteracy rates are 70% or higher, or Congo, where we’re already using megaphones to spread healthcare information about Asili. With megaphones being cheap and easy to use, it’s a coverall solution for even the most remote communities.
8. Zoom Conferencing)
Like everyone else in the world during these times, video calls have been key to keeping things moving and keeping people connected. And as the situation evolves, we’ve been video conferencing with our Alight teams around the clock, making sure our responder teams have the most up-to-date information, support, and resources they need to keep refugees and displaced people safe. From holding virtual medical training for our Catholic Sister partners and other first responders, to emergency response strategy sessions, to simply connecting with global teammates to better understand what the people we serve need and want, getting on Zoom has been critical to getting the most effective COVID-19 messages out.
Help Us Get the Message Out
You can help us get the message out. You never know who will retweet, share, or like—and who might really need to hear it. If you want to help spread the word about coronavirus prevention, our social media messages and posts are available for anyone to download.
Reach out today to learn more about our COVID-19 response—there are so many ways you can help us make a difference.