QUEZON CITY, July 24 (PIA) – With the balancing act of reopening economic activities and increasing COVID-19 cases in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) is urging the public to be part of the solution by adopting long-term behavioral changes.

In today’s partners launch, the DOH, together with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), partner government agencies and private sectors, unveiled the BIDA Solusyon communication campaign to encourage Filipinos to change mindset and practice four key preventive behaviors.

The word BIDA, which means “hero,” “protagonist,” or “star” in English, is an acronym for new normal behaviors: Bawal walang mask, I-sanitize ang kamay at Iwas-hawak sa mga bagay, Dumistansya ng isang metro, at Alamin ang totoong impormasyon.

The COVID-19, perceived as the COntraVIDa (kontrabida) or “antagonist” in English, is an invisible enemy that Filipinos can beat by practicing said simple BIDA behaviors.

Amor Maclang, the brand architect behind this behavior-change campaign, sought the help of private and public sector leaders to reach Filipinos down to the barangay level.

“People may not realize it, but their everyday actions can either help or make things worse… It seems very difficult to [tell] people that the danger is out there when they don’t really see it,” she said.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) admitted that dealing with attitudinal and cultural nuisances pose a challenge to the department.

“The regular approach has always been punitive [by] urging local government units in passing ordinances wherein we impose penalties for people who are not wearing face masks… [render] community service for first offense, or maybe set fines in the second and third offense, and eventually imprisonment,” said Jonathan Malaya, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson.

But a punitive, law enforcement approach, Malaya said, will not always guarantee success in containing the COVID-19 infection spread. Hence, the partnership with DOH.

“Our soft approach target[s] behavior change… [through] indirect encouragement and enablement,” he added.

Malaya revealed celebrity champions such as Diether Ocampo, Matteo Guidecelli, James Deakin, EJ Falcon, and Paolo Bediones who will help BIDA Solusyon Ambassador, Alden Richards, influence Filipinos to adopt behavior modification.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) signified its support in increasing public awareness and at the same time urged public cooperation and support in waging war against the COVID-19 virus.

“Proper communication with partner agencies makes it [easier] for us to make people understand [and] aware but we can only do so much. At the end of the day, it’s the people’s responsibility to [make] psychological and behavioral changes,” PCOO Undersecretary George Apacible said while emphasizing his observation that some people do not realize the personal impact of getting infected as the reason behind normalized daily behavior.

Through the financial and technical assistance from USAID for the first phase of its rollout, the DOH and partners aim for Filipinos to be the solution as “we continue to live our lives amid this pandemic” the campaign presentation said. (MTQ/PIA-IDPD)

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