Africa coronavirus appeal

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a worldwide health emergency. Many African communities will be among the least prepared to cope with its impact.

Picturing Health is working with leading research bodies to work out key public health messages that will save the most lives, and then use the power of film to reach the most people.

The threat of COVID-19 in Africa

There are already confirmed cases of COVID-19 in most African countries, and if current lockdowns fail to contain it, the virus could spread very fast.

Because there are almost no intensive care facilities in African public hospitals, prevention is the main hope. Information and education about how the virus is spread, the symptoms, hand-washing and physical distancing, and particularly protecting those most at risk, are urgently needed.

Current lockdown policies may also backfire, as fear of hunger among large urban migrant populations pushes them to move back to their villages where there is food, taking the virus with them. UNICEF is warning of a spike in hunger-related endemic diseases, like malaria, sepsis, diarrhoea and childhood pneumonia, which every year already kill five million children before they reach their fifth birthday.  These pose a much greater threat to children than COVID-19.

Finally, the epidemic offers an opportunity for wider public health education campaigns which could also combat these other long-term and long-neglected diseases.

How Picturing Health can help

We are creating a series of short public health information films, including this coronavirus video message. These will deliver key messages to promote behaviour that can reduce the spread of coronavirus in Africa, and save lives. Public health modelling is predicting that the best way to save lives is to help communities find ways of protecting the elderly and other at risk groups. We will produce these films in close co-ordination with the Medical Research Council – Clinical Trials Unit at University College London, who are leading COVID research programs in Africa.

Alongside these, we are making films to collate evidence and contribute to the policy debate about the response to COVID-19.  COVID on the Breadline,  examines whether measures to contain the pandemic could cause a greater humanitarian disaster than the virus itself.

Finally we are planning  films to train health workers to look after patients with COVID-19 in settings where there are almost no intensive care facilities. Simple techniques of breathing exercises and regular movement of patients so they do not lie on their backs, can make a difference to improve survival rates. 

Our videos will use animation as well as film, tailored to African settings. Before dissemination we will pilot films we make in communities in Malawi. We will translate films into local languages and disseminate through partners including UNICEF, who are leading the messaging around coronavirus in Africa.

How you can support us

With the threat of COVID-19 imminent in Africa, we need to take action now. By making a donation, you can help us to fund work with local film makers to contribute creating essential public health information to protect people in Africa from this pandemic.

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