College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences

Taking the Covid-19 message to communities

Dr Prudence Kayoka-Kabongo (Department of Agriculture and Animal Health, CAES) is a veterinarian and a microbiologist. Her field of expertise includes diseases of public health interest, in general, infectious diseases affecting both animals and humans, and microorganisms causing diseases, in particular.

Dr Prudence Kayoka-Kabongo of Unisa’s Department of Agriculture and Animal Health in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) explains that one of the ways that the university plays its part during lockdown is through community engagement.

As part of the Urban Agriculture Community Engagement (CE) project, she has partnered with local community radio stations to educate society about Covid-19. To ensure that communities understand the message that is being communicated to them, the content is translated into local languages. By so doing, communities are able to understand what this pandemic is, how it spreads, and how they can protect themselves and their loved ones.

Currently working on tuberculosis, Kayoka-Kabongo is a veterinarian and a microbiologist. Her field of expertise includes diseases of public health interest, in general, infectious diseases affecting both animals and humans, and microorganisms causing diseases, in particular.

"Since December 2019, I have been following the news and reading publications related to a novel coronavirus outbreak. I was already concerned about the rapid spread of the virus in other parts of the world and I could predict that soon the virus would be in Africa as the world is a global village. Indeed, WHO declared Covid-19 as a global emergency pandemic in March 2020."

When, in February, her department sent out a call to staff members to submit topics of interest in their respective fields of expertise, Kayoka-Kabongo immediately thought of the outbreak and submitted a topic, Unpacking coronavirus. This attracted attention from radio stations such as SECO FM, Thobela FM, and Sekhukhune Radio, who were very excited about the topic and its current relevancy.

Working with a few radio stations in the Limpopo Province and translating the content into Sepedi, Kayoka-Kabongo perceived that the Limpopo residents were aware and seemed to understand quarantine and all other measures taken when some of the local residents were interviewed on the repatriation of fellow citizens from Wuhan, China. "The outreach is still continuing, as the radio stations have requested that I keep in touch until the end of the pandemic. It is also worth noting the commitment from staff members who are willing to have interview sessions in the evening when most family members are at home."

Dr Prudence Kayoka-Kabongo (Senior Lecturer: Department of Agriculture and Animal Health, CAES) and Griezel Raphahlelo (Radio Host)

The Department of Agriculture and Animal Health is pleased that it was at the forefront of realising the seriousness of this outbreak and raising awareness. For the department, community engagement and outreach projects are actively promoted through Unisa’s community engagement and outreach policy.

* By Nancy Legodi, Acting Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2020-06-26 00:00:00.0