From Community Health Clubs to electronic Corona Health Clusters

The Corona virus was first identified on the New Year’s Eve of 2020, and within 3 months there are now nearly quarter of a million cases with around 10,000 deaths world-wide. The ‘Old World’ has stopped working. Rich nations are now in lock-down, shutting up shops, restaurants, bars and leisure centres while all citizens are being forced into self-isolation and health services buckle under the pressure of life threatening Covid19 cases. From the southern tip of Africa, we look up our beloved continent and see a tsunami of an unbelievable proportion heading our way.

Are we to stand mesmerized at the enormity of the disaster, when people in the New World have minimal support?

What can we do, here and now to stem the disaster?

We, in Africa AHEAD are public health professionals who have spent our entire lives getting communities to wash their hands and improve their sanitation. We have reached over 2 million people through Community Health Clubs in the last twenty years. Where are those CHC members? Many are still there, carrying on, as ever, in their rural homes. Some who were young women when they trained, are now grandmothers, but they still know what needs to be done. They are the foot soldiers in this war. At the very least, we can reach those CHC members and revamp their ability to survive by safe behaviour in this terrible pandemic.

With such a narrow window of opportunity, we don’t have enough time to write proposals, source funds, plan projects and start mobilising communities into the classic Community Health Clubs. This would take at least six months under normal circumstances. These are not normal times. We need a rapid response. We have only one or two months before it is unsafe to gather people. We need to network quickly and use our contacts so that we reach as many leaders of old CHC as possible to convert these groups into a different CHC – small scale groups of less than 10 households who will look out for each other. I suggest they be called electronic Corona Health Clusters (eCHC) as they will be connected virtually,  retaining the original acronym CHC so as to remember the basic  premise of the tried and tested CHC Model:  that people are safer in groups and are more likely to change their risky behaviour with positive peer pressure.

We are appealing to all our Partners, Associates and Country Representatives to dig deep into your contacts list to make this email go viral: forward it onto any trainer or organisation that you have trained in the past, in the hope that they will use their own resources to conduct this one corona training session using these ready-made materials.

Print the Corona Virus set of illustrations found in the pdf at this link on normal A4 copy paper (in black and white to save cost) and provide each CHC with this training as per the instructions. The tool is not perfect, but in the interest of speed, we have cobbled together a collection of visual aids from the Unicef-funded Rwandan CBEHPP Toolkit. It can be refined or adapted as required to suit the context.

Although there is a lot of information on Corona around, we offer these visual aids to enable their leaders to be equipped to facilitate problem solving in a convincing way to help people throughout Africa to visualise the issues and act.

We also have to be aware that whilst such a pandemic is raging, it is not advisable to use our traditional method of gathering vast groups of over 100 people in a ‘Classic’ Community Health Club, but  must reorganise them so they break themselves into smaller clusters, with close neighbours grouping together in less than 10 households per cluster. They should elect a lead household who will monitor their social behaviour to ensure they stick to recommended practicesThe lead household should be responsible for them and able to contact the relevant authority by cell phone if any cases of corona are identified in the clusterThey should be empowered to enforce isolation of the affected household whilst also supporting them with food and water delivered to their home. Transportation has to be organised in case of hospitalisation. This may involve ‘tricycle ambulances’ (home-made carts attached to bikes) to ferry the sick and the dying. Funerals should be managed safely to minimise infection. These practical measures will alleviate a lot of stress.

But time is short, so let’s begin now. Join us, in this fight!

In areas where there are no previous CHC we need to mobilise community fast, conduct this training and help them to organise. This is what Associates can do in each of the countries where we live. Wherever you are, let us help to mobilise community into their state of preparedness.

This is the time to think globally and act locally.

Africa AHEAD can supply the training materials as well as training where we have a representative based in-country (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda). We have a CHC registry of existing CHC details and you can register new eCHCs quickly.

Contact me directly for use of this facility or more information on how we can help. Thank you.     Email: