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“It also meant that people are now aware of the disease and they will follow the precautionary measures that they are being told to follow by health organisation like SAYWHAT (Students And Youth Working on reproductive Health Action Team). I plead with all Zimbabweans to take good care of themselves, they need to take this pandemic seriously and stay safe.”

These were the words of young, Buhle Mtunzi, a 16-year-old from John Tallach High School, whose entry won the SAYWHAT COVID-19 Awareness Video Competition, that was supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The competition which was open to students between the ages of 16 - 24 years was meant to raise awareness on COVID-19 amongst young people with young people originating the messaging. As the saying goes concerning young people “Nothing about us without us”. In a 90 seconds video, young people were asked to briefly explain what they knew about COVID-19 outlining the signs and symptoms of the disease as well as explaining the correct preventative measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), COVID-19, is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.  While the virus has caused nearly 380,000 deaths globally – Zimbabwe has recorded 356 confirmed cases, 54 recoveries and 4 deaths.

SAYWHAT Executive Director, Jimmy Wilford says the idea of having the competition was to increase awareness on COVID-19 pandemic through the active participation of students.

“We saw it as a great opportunity for them to practice peer education which gives a deeper understanding of the pandemic for both peer leaders and their fellow students,” he says.

“The competition also enabled students to research on the matter and attain correct information which is another affective way of learning as opposed to us always having to give them readily available information to read from. However, we are still doing this role by sharing information from the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the World Health Organisation so as to further increase awareness.”

Wilford says content obtained from the competition will shape programming and address issues raised in the entries for appropriate COVID-19 messaging for students and young people.

UNFPA and SAYWHAT have been collaborating for 8 years, raising awareness on SRHR and GBV among students and young people, improving the availability and access to SRHR services and increasing the uptake of HIV prevention services.