The New York USA and Owerri, Imo State based Mbaise Policy Roundtable (MPR), has, following the successful completion of training of 200 COVID 19 informants, launched its aggressive but innovative, grassroots “MPR Coronavirus Prevention Awareness Program (MCPAP)”.
The organization, according to a statement by its Chief Press Secretary, Casca Ohanele, reported, during a teleconference, that the program has been enthusiastically embraced by Mbaise monarchs and their communities in general. Dr Jude Iheoma, Chief Program Director said, “as the traditional prime minister of my community in Ezinihitte, I have received lots of positive feedbacks from both my Traditional Ruler and community, on the efficacy of the door-to-door, person-to-person, MCPAP strategy”.
The MPR Coordinator for Ezinihitte LGA, Mr Bright Ugochukwu who met with His Royal Highness Professor B.A. Nwachukwu, the Traditional Ruler of Ife Kingdom, in Ezinihitte, said “the Royal Father heartily welcomed us with some takeaway edibles and poured royal blessings on MPR donors. All the Royal Fathers we have communicated with in this LGA have been very generous and complimentary.”
The MPR Coordinator for Aboh LGA, Ms Esther Nwahiri said “the Royal Fathers so far have welcomed us enthusiastically. A true representation of their welcoming attitude toward us was reflected in our meeting with His Royal Highness, Eze Athanasius Ezekwe of Ezenachigwe, in Aboh LGA. He verbally declared that God blessed Mbaise Nation with men and women of honor. He was very happy with our mission, and promised to contribute his own quota towards the success of our program.”
Mr Chijioke Njoku, the MPR Coordinator for Ahiazu reported similar positive embrace by the Royal Fathers of the Ahiazu LGA. Mr Njoku said, “their welcoming spirit was typically demonstrated during our visit with His Royal Highness, Eze Dr Enyeribe Onuoha, at his palace at Umonomo/Umuchieze. He appreciated the wonderful gestures of MPR and encouraged people to take the necessary precautions in combating COVID-19.”
Other notable Monarchs visited who demonstrated great appreciation for the MPR field teams and their mission and would hope government embarks of similar strategy, were, HRH Eze Nnanna Nwosu of Chokoneze, Eze Ifeanyi Uwahemu of Onicha Nwenkwo, Eze S.U. Ugochukwu of Mbutu Nwenkwo, Eze Leo Nwokocha of Umunneato and Eze Charles Iroegbu of Umuezie, among others.
The MCPAP initiative is designed to take COVID-19 education, prevention strategies and rationale to the grassroots. Concerns have been widely reported that in Mbaise and other rural communities in Imo State, that people still go to markets and about their businesses as in normal times, in disregard of the request by government for people to stay at home, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The goal of the MCPAP strategy, therefore, is to accomplish what other conventional messaging interventions, such as radio and television advertisements, town criers, jingles, bill boards, comedies and others had failed to accomplish, which is to change behavior. The COVID-19 Informants after being lectured on the “origin, mission and vision of MPR, overview of Coronavirus, and specific dos and donts of COVID 19 prevention,” were deployed to all the 36 political Wards in the three Local Government Areas(LGAs) of Mbaise, namely Aboh, Ahiazu and Ezinihitte LGAs. The informants who have healthcare background, have, as part of the strategy been meeting with people in their natural environments, such as their homes, businesses, farms, markets and recreational places, and others, to deliver their messages.
Regarding the choice of this communication strategy, Dr. Iheoma, a psychologist, who endorsed this method said, “This messaging approach is referred to as Behavior Change Communication (BCC), which is an approach to behavior change focused on communication. The assumption is that through communication of some kind, individuals and communities can somehow be persuaded to behave in ways that will make their lives safer and healthier. BCC was first employed in HIV and TB prevention projects. More recently, its ambit has grown to encompass any communication activity whose goal is to help individuals and communities select and practice behavior that will positively impact their health.”
Assessing the progress of the initiative after the second day, the MPR Vice Chairman, Dr. Law Osondu, said, “while it is still early to draw any conclusions, early reactions, from the people, at the markets, farms, residences, the streets and other places, indicate that we probably chose the right communication strategy.”
MPR is the premier pre-eminent Mbaise Public Policy and Business Advisory Council in the World, focused entirely on the development of Mbaise and Imo State, through the facilitation of financial and in-kind resources, private investments and private public partnerships.
MPR is situated to liaise, partner, and/or collaborate with international entities, the Imo State Government and agencies, and the private sector to produce and advance policies that will fast track Mbaise and Imo State development to a first world status.