New partnership to give Mozambique’s highest risk spaces a new attitude toward COVID-19

As COVID-19 cases climb in South Africa, neighboring Mozambique’s Ministry of Health, with support from Health Alliance International & Vital Strategies, is working to transform public spaces from high-risk to high-compliance when it comes to protecting against community transmission of COVID-19.

Maputo, Mozambique: Mozambique’s most crowded public markets and transport centers are about to  become COVID-19 info centers. This month, Health Alliance International announced a new partnership with Mozambique’s Ministry of Health to share information about the risks of COVID-19 and how people can protect themselves in high-risk public spaces. This $81,761 grant is part of Vital Strategies’ Resolve to Save Lives initiative’s COVID-19 response, a Bloomberg Philanthropies-funded effort to strengthen government responses to COVID-19.

Since the first recorded COVID-19 case in Mozambique on March 22nd, the country has maintained one of the lowest case rates in Africa, coming in 47th at 110 cases per million[1].  Nevertheless, in Mozambique, low levels of public compliance to government mandated prevention measures—particularly social distancing, use of masks, frequent hand washing, and regular cleaning and disinfection of public places—remains a serious issue, especially in high-density, high-trafficked public spaces, such as markets and transport centers[2]. Meanwhile, neighboring South Africa’s case count has skyrocketed to fifth place globally, serving as a warning that the region remains vulnerable to continued spread1.

“Mozambique has been fortunate so far, but we have not been immune to the spread of COVID-19.  It is very important that we take the threat seriously, and we can do this by preparing our population with information, tools, and techniques to protect ourselves and our communities.”

-Dr. Isaías Ramiro, Country Director – Mozambique, Health Alliance International

Working alongside the Ministry of Health’s Department of Health Promotion, the Social Communication Institute of Mozambique, and Mozambican Community Radio Forums, Health Alliance International aims to engage market and transport associations as champions of public health behavioral change at 16 public markets and 8 transportation centers located in four priority districts of Maputo Province.  This includes expanding knowledge and use of the MOH’s free telehealth platforms “ALO Vida” and “PENSA,” interactive community social mobilization activities, and media-based information campaigns in multiple languages.

“This project will be the largest investment to date by an international donor to build community awareness of best practices for COVID-19 prevention in Mozambique. We are very pleased that the funding is being used to support government response efforts and priorities.”

-Dra. Natércia Monjane Matule, Head of Department of Health Promotion, Mozambique Ministry of Health (MISAU)

Project activities are under way and will run through mid-October.  A pre-post evaluation of community knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding COVID-19 is embedded in the project to inform best practices and future investments in community-based COVID-19 prevention activities.

“Clear, science-based communication from the Ministry of Health is critically important during public health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to partnering with Health Alliance International to support Mozambique in communicating life-saving information to the population.”

-José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies

See the story at Health Alliance International.