Volunteers to become frontliners

PETALING JAYA: Community leaders and volunteers will be recruited as Covid-19 agents and frontliners to help eradicate Covid-19 in the communities through a bottom-up approach.

These leaders and volunteers, called Agen Basmi Covid-19 (ABC-19) or Covid-19 Busting Agents, are part of the Community Empowerment Committee which is chaired by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Functions) Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof and Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali.

The National Disaster Management Agency’s (Nadma) deputy director-general (policy), Jamil

Derus Ahmad, said that the ABC-19 programme would be implemented nationwide by using the “whole-of-society” approach.

“This approach is more appropriate at the community level. We need to engage community leaders and the community in general to send the message that everyone must adopt the new norm and take precautions.

“Our minister (Mohd Redzuan) tells everyone that the best way to safeguard yourself from Covid-19 is to mask up and maintain physical distancing, but we truly need everyone to practise such measures.

“Which is why ABC-19 will help in community-based surveillance and engagement with everyone in the community to inform, advise, as well as remind everyone to adhere to the standard operating procedure (SOP), ” he said in an interview yesterday.

The programme, which will be launched soon by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, is expected to be rolled out at all state and district levels as early as next month.

Jamil said that one of the main targets of the programme, apart from empowering communities on their responsibilities to help curb the spread of Covid-19, was to also help them maintain their status as green zones.

He added that although the vaccination programme would begin soon, people still needed to remain careful.

“People will be vaccinated soon but this programme works as a back-up, so everyone is aware and will continue to adhere to the SOP.

“That’s one of the best ways to reduce, or even eradicate Covid-19 in our country, ” he added.

ABC-19 will also work with People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) and the Malaysian Civil Defence Force (APM) to engage the community.

Jamil said community leaders such as village heads, longhouse leaders and those from places of worship would be asked to join ABC-19 to help create awareness.

“They are familiar faces in their communities, so it will be easier to get the message across as people can relate to them.

“By engaging the people through such leaders, there will be more buy-in rather than spreading awareness solely through booklets and posters.

“There is some personal touch to it, so we are looking forward to this, ” he added.

Jamil said state and district-level disaster management committees would identify these volunteers who would also be given training. He said ABC-19 would also be helping the government and the National Security Council (NSC) to improvise measures to curb Covid-19.

“The flow of information will be from the community level right up to the federal level, and the NSC will look into the feedback during their meetings. This is the bottom-up approach.

“SOP is needed but they also need to benefit the people, so we need feedback from the ground, ” said Jamil, adding that ABC-19 volunteers would be given highly-visible armbands so the community could identify them easily.

Community empowerment measures, said Jamil, will also help reduce the burden of other frontliners in the uniformed services.

“The frontliners from the uniformed services have risen beyond their call of duty.

“But they have many other tasks to juggle, so roping in community members will be of great help and is one of the best ways forward, ” he added.

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