Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, is calling on young leaders across the island to get into “activist mode” against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
He is encouraging these young people, many of whom already have community-based organisations or are in charge of youth clubs, to take their activism even further by becoming COVID ambassadors – implementing outreach programmes targeted at vulnerable persons and helping to spread the messages and best practices to safeguard health and prevent transmission of the virus.
“We want you to help those who are suffering from the side effects of COVID. Use the outreach that you are currently involved in and add on top of that an outreach that involves COVID messaging. The more we send the message out about COVID the more people become conscious,” he said.
Tufton was addressing a meeting with youth leaders from Maverley and surrounding areas on Wednesday (November 11), at the Source Centre in the St. Andrew community.
He underscored the importance of youth involvement in the fight against COVID-19.
He noted that while the Ministry has been working assiduously to spread the message about COVID and to engage as many Jamaicans as possible, youth leaders have the ability to influence their peers and other members in the society.
“You are the ones that your peers have identified as influencers, you carry more influence and respect, and this is a critical part of the COVID response,” Dr. Tufton said.
The Minster noted that while young people are called upon to help spread the message about COVID-19 and to encourage persons to follow the protocols, it is also important for them to give a lending hand to those who are suffering from the side effects of COVID-19, such as the elderly, the disabled, children or persons who are not coping with the pandemic.
“The side effects can sometimes be as bad as the virus because an old man in his house, who cannot go out and is afraid, can get depressed and the depression can be as deadly as the virus,” he pointed out.
“So, that food package that you are giving out… the COVID message must be a part of that. You must ask Maas John how him feeling, if him need any extra help or if him need anybody to go pick up him prescription,” he suggested.
He further recommended holding classes with small groups of children who are not doing well in their online classes.
He said that the public health team will be on hand to provide them with guidelines on how to structure the outreach programme, noting that the Ministry will also provide some support.
President of the National Youth Council of Jamaica, Jerome Palmer, who participated in the meeting, said that young persons “who are in communities, country or town, have an important role to play in the fight against COVID”.
“The Minister has agreed to enable us with the resources. We are not creating anything new, we are just aligning this with what we are already doing on the ground,” he noted.