The Role of Village Women as Health Promoters Combatting COVID-19

26 August 2020
Author: Amron Hamdi

As the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic nears six months, the community struggle to prevent transmission of the disease continues. Although it is not yet known when the pandemic will end, members of the Grassroots Women’s Community Forum (FKPAR) continue to play an active role in fighting the virus in unique ways, just like the following story from villages in Palembang.

Susilawati, a FKPAR member, is part of an Independent Women’s group assisted by Women Crisis Center (WCC) Palembang. The PERMAMPU network is actively supporting her group’s efforts to disseminate information about ‘Clean and Healthy Living Behavior’ (PHBS) from house to house. The campaign emphasises topics that include: always washing hands with soap after being outside the home, before eating or touching your face; and consuming foods with balanced nutritional content. The counseling ends with the distribution of cloth masks, hand sanitisers and COVID-19 prevention information flyers made by group members.

In addition to providing door to door counselling, WCC Palembang Partners have also assisted their groups to carry out routine disinfection and build simple hand washing facilities equipped with soap and clean water taps.

Rita Saparlasia, a woman from Pedataran Village, Muaraenim Regency assisted by WCC Palembang regularly organises disinfection activities in her region with other activists.

“We routinely spray disinfectants on frequently touched surfaces such as public door handles, water taps, and so on,” explained Rita. The disinfectant that Rita uses is produced independently by villagers in accordance with the Indonesian Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Prevention guidelines.

WCC Palembang has supported grassroots women’s groups to implement a variety of health promotion activities. Yeni Izi, Director of WCC Palembang, explained the important role that grassroots women’s groups play in disease prevention in their villages.

“Women play a huge role as the front guard in COVID-19 prevention, not only in cities, but also in villages. Hopefully this pandemic will end soon and people’s lives will run return to normal and people will continue to adopt a clean and healthy lifestyle,” said Yeni.