My name is Naana Adiki Manyeyo Adi I, Queen of the Royal Adibiawe Clan of the Ada Traditional Area in the Greater Accra Region.
I am a Youth Leader for Health and believe in the power of culture and tradition in encouraging behaviour change when faced with a public health threat.
The Youth Leaders for Health Program is a joint initiative being implemented by RESULTS UK, WACIHealth, Hope for Future Generations-Ghana, CISMAT-SL (Sierra Leone), and Health Promotion Tanzania-HDT with support from Comic Relief. We are advocates for health system strengthening and increased domestic resources for the eradication of malaria.
My community has moved on gently in the midst of COVID-19. In the past and within my community, we have believed in the phrase ‘Together we stand’. This has been taught to us as children and has fostered harmony, peace, selflessness, togetherness, support and development.
This phrase has gone dormant in COVID-19 times.
Current Life in my Community
The coronavirus has managed to move from the small community of Wuhan in China crossing several borders to join us in West Africa, in our communities uninvited. Its spread is very swift and undemocratic with no respect for age, status, gender, race, culture, tradition…
Before this pandemic, I advocated for better health outcomes against equally deadly diseases such as the quick-tempered malaria, the embarrassing tuberculosis, the silent cholera and the irritating dysentery. Need I add the opportunistic cancer? You help me decide.
Day in day out, the lifestyle in my community has noticeably changed.
Many families stay indoors. Indirectly gaining the needed rest to boost the body’s immune system. There are empty streets in the community
Hand sanitisers are common and washing of hands with soap under running water frequent. Personal and communal hygiene has improved.
Some wear face masks, most don’t.
Conversely, community shops and kiosks are struggling with reduced patronage.
Prices of goods have skyrocketed at a time that so many people have lost their sources of income.
The banking halls have seen fewer visits, too.
Child labour has reduced drastically. Previously, the streets would be flooded with children selling goods regardless of harsh weather, safety and kidnapping risks.
Social and religious programs such as marriage ceremonies, funerals, church service and mosque attendance, parties and others have taken a nosedive.
The private performance of some of these programs has saved people so much money.
More so, simplicity has taken its proper seat, at least for now.
Teenage promiscuity and pregnancy is being controlled effectively as during this time public gatherings where teen girls meet older men are banned
My role as a Queen mother and health advocate
As a Queen Mother, I continue to engage my community in education and information on the virus. I have used tradition and culture in communication to quell misconceptions about COVID-19. And I have explained how a weak immune system due to repeated bouts of malaria and poor nutrition makes us all susceptible to COVID-19.
I visited and shared hand sanitizers through the support of the McDan Foundation. Some of the beneficiaries include G.P.R.T.U’s, Market Women and Hospitals, Police Station, Okada Riders and households.
I have also visited usually ignored and vulnerable slum communities like Osu Kinka We, Bukom, Mudor, Korle Gonnor within the Greater Accra Region and have provided 900 packs of assorted provisions, rice, oil, tea, sardine, canned beef, soap, toilet rolls, tomatoes paste, bread, gari and hand sanitisers. This gesture was supported by a reputable organisation who wants to remain anonymous.
I continue to work with the District Chief Executive, to carry out community distribution of Veronica buckets, soap and hand sanitisers and to distribute water using the Fire Truck from the Fire Service Department.
I joined up with our paramount chief, Nene Djetse Abram Kabu Akuaku III and visited both Ada East and West Districts and toured health facilities where I advocated that diseases like malaria should not be forgotten as we fight COVID-19. I have held conversations with the District Health Director on COVID-19 messaging.
COVID-19 has really emphasised that indeed Health is Wealth. Leaders will have to go back to the drawing board to take a critical look at how and where to place Health System Strengthening in the list of priorities when it comes to Nation Building.
Thank you to my mentor, Dr Sylvia Anie for listening and sharing thoughts.
On this note, I end here by saying FIRST THINGS FIRST!!!