CELEBRATING HEALTH IN SPIRIT OF FOOTBALL: A kick-off to community watch parties for vaccination, HIV prevention during AFCON

Dar es Salaam Marking a collaborative effort, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and President’s Office – Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG), in partnership with Breakthrough ACTION, has launched community watch parties to harness the excitement of football for the benefit of public health.

This innovative campaign, cantered around the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournaments, goes beyond mere entertainment, focusing on the integration of AFCON games into community gatherings to enhance essential health awareness and services.

The ground-breaking initiative, developed by Breakthrough ACTION, a USAID-supported social and behaviour change project dedicated to catalysing opportunities for Tanzanians to enhance their health status through transforming socio-cultural norms and promoting healthier behaviours, is an integral part of the campaign to promote vaccination activities and HIV prevention and treatment services.

The first community watch party, held at Mbagala Zakheim grounds, received an official launch from Dr. Festo John Dugange, the Deputy Minister of the President’s Office – Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG).

During the launch, attendees were encouraged to consider their families as the most crucial team, ensuring their victory by prioritizing routine immunizations, COVID-19 vaccines, and boosters.

Drawing parallels with the world of soccer, the Deputy Minister stressed the importance of keeping the family at the top of the leader board by ensuring they have all the necessary vaccines.

In the game of life, vaccines stand as the best defenders against diseases, making it imperative to keep families up to date on all their vaccines.

Additionally, as part of the campaign to promote HIV prevention and treatment services, the Deputy Minister highlighted the role of HIV testing, ART initiation and retention and condoms use as crucial defenders against HIV transmission, urging individuals to stay in the game by cutting down HIV transmission.

This multifaceted campaign not only celebrates the spirit of football but also serves as a dynamic platform to promote public health and well-being within local communities, emphasizing the importance of routine immunizations and HIV prevention and treatment services during the AFCON tournaments.

‘At this important event today, let’s focus on education and vital vaccinations. I urge everyone, especially men, to treat their families as a team. Lead in ensuring they get vaccinated for protection against diseases.

“Our country provides all necessary vaccines for free, and I’m pleased to see people here actively getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Festo John Dugange, the Deputy Minister in the President’s Office-Regional Administration and Local Government Authority.

Our joint effort not only strategically utilizes the massive viewership of AFCON but also creatively integrates health promotion into the games. The AFCON watch parties, will become more than just football celebrations; they will be vibrant hubs of health awareness.”- Programme Officer Health Promotion and Service Delivery Ministry of Health Asteria Shirima.

The AFCON watch party is now an innovative community-driven event that effortlessly blends entertainment, health education, and essential services. This ground-breaking initiative solidifies health services as an integral component of communal celebrations.” -Waziri Nyoni, Chief of party, Breakthrough ACTION.

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