“Long Life” Campaign Protects the Elderly Population during COVID-19 Pandemic

145 hand washing stations were set up three two weeks after the launch of the “Long Life” campaign initiated by the Cambodia Promoting Healthy Behaviors (PHB) Activity, a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). With technical support from the National Centre for Health Promotion (NCHP), the one-month campaign was launched in September 2020 in Battambang with the purpose of encouraging elders of 60+ years old to actively adopt preventive healthy behaviors when visiting neighbors so that they can protect themselves and others from diseases such COVID-19.

According to WHO, older people have a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 than people in younger age groups. While old people know that they are the most vulnerable group, they feel that their neighborhood is not considered as a risky environment. “Every day I go to meet my neighbors. I don’t need to protect myself because I know them very well,” a villager said. However, Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine has many times called for the public to remain vigilant.

The campaign helps people to remain cautious and adopt key behaviors of hand washing, physical distance, using krama when coughing or sneezing and wear a mask when necessary. To remind people to practice the behaviors through objects and signs integrated into their daily environment:

  • Hand washing station in front of the house
  • Stickers highlighting where to sit.

30 village chiefs are invited to set up their house as a safe COVID-19 free environment. They become Long Life role models and begin to spread the campaign message to villagers that attend their house. In three 3 weeks, there were 921 people visited their houses, 282 or 31% of them were 60 years old or over. The village chiefs invited the visitors to set up their own handwashing stations at the houses. As a result, 145 stations were set up.

This campaign is a good example of the support and cooperation from authority to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and that neighbors and village chief is a great resource in helping people to adopt behaviors such as wearing a mask, frequently washing hands, and maintaining social distance from others.

*The USAID/Cambodia Promoting Healthy Behaviors Activity (Cambodia PHB) project is a five-year, USAID-funded, social and behavior change project (2018-2023) being directly implemented by Population Services International (PSI). The goal of Cambodia PHB Activity is to improve health behaviors among Cambodians and ensure they seek and receive quality healthcare with decreased financial hardship. PHB targets 6 key health areas: maternal & child health; nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); tuberculosis; family planning; and malaria. Cambodia PHB Activity is working with partners in Phnom Penh, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Battambang, and Pailin.