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By Alain Tossounon
Protective masks, handwashing devices, soap and spraying equipment were among the supplies given to the Government of Benin in early June in support of the national response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The contribution was made by an organization working in the health and sanitation sector: the Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Practices Improvement Programme (PAPHyR), which is funded by the WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund (GSF).
The supplies were received in a ceremony on 3 June at the Ministry of Health by Ali Imorou Bah Chabi, the ministry’s secretary-general.
“I can tell you that the quality of the components of your donation, namely sprayers or inputs, is what has always been advocated by the government,” said the secretary-general, adding that, beyond COVID-19, these materials would also help fight other communicable diseases.
He welcomed the contribution and the continued support of the PAPHyR interventions to help implement the National Strategy for the Promotion of Basic Hygiene and Sanitation in Benin, emphasizing that, despite all the efforts undertaken by the government to deal with this health crisis, “support is needed”.
The donated items consisted of sprayers, 45-kilogram jars of calcium hypochlorite, 103 handwashing devices, 515 bottles of liquid soap (more than 770 liters), reusable masks and awareness posters.
This contribution takes into account the training of subsector officers on emergencies related to COVID-19 and the further promotion of hygiene, including the practice of washing hands with water and soap. In total, the activities planned by PAPHyR as part of this contribution to the response amount to 11,929,500 CFA francs (US$20,400).
In her speech at the handover event, Yadjidé Adissoda Gbèdo, PAPHyR Programme Leader, praised the government’s efforts, pointing out that “the response to the coronavirus pandemic is first and foremost a water, hygiene and sanitation response.”
She stressed that hygiene promotion programmes such as PAPHyR are already natural actors in the fight against the pandemic, explaining why they are at the forefront of the post-COVID-19 world.
While arguing that the pandemic is an opportunity to achieve sustainable changes in handwashing with water and soap, Ms Gbèdo took the opportunity to appeal to the Minister of Health to continue her support for hygiene and sanitation programmes, including the PAPHyR interventions, which comes to an end in December 2020.
“It is important that Benin positions itself to benefit from a second round in order to sustain the gains achieved,” she suggested.