Ebola ‘wash your hands’ songwriter produces new song for coronavirus

Sunny Neji works with global charity to educate and prepare rural African communities on coronavirus.

United Purpose has partnered with popular Nigerian music artist, Sunny Neji to write an uplifting and catchy new song to ensure important coronavirus messages reach the most vulnerable and remote people in sub-Sahara Africa.

With coronavirus set to sweep across Africa, health experts are deeply concerned about the readiness of the health care systems in what are some of the world’s poorest countries.  As a result, the global charity will reach sub-Saharan Africans in rural communities through a medium they will all understand and appreciate – song.

Together We Will Beat It brings to life the measures needed to stop the spread of the virus – washing hands, staying at home, social distancing – and has one important message, to ‘spread the love not the virus.’

As 68% of the adult population in Nigeria are illiterate and have limited access to the internet, reaching a population of 195.9 million to encourage social distancing and take precautionary measures is no easy feat. Doing it via song on radio means a wide range of people can be reached, including those living in remote areas and those who can’t read and don’t have internet access.

Sunny Neji, born in Lagos, is a well-established artist in the Nigerian music scene, and CEO of Impakt Records. He uses his voice to actively support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially goal 6 to ensure safe water, sanitation and hygiene for all.

The production has been supported by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), hosted by the UN, the worldwide body that works to improve water and sanitation in the poorest countries.

Sunny Neji, said: “In Nigeria, we love music and we tell stories through song. It is a powerful way to create positive social change and challenge habits and mindsets. Most of all, it is a fun and positive way to connect with young people and those living in hard-to-reach communities. I hope my song inspires people to unite together to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”

United Purpose has previously worked with Sunny and other Nigerian artists such as 2Face Idibia during the 2014 Ebola outbreak to produce songs that reinforced the critical behaviour of handwashing. Sunny’s song Wash your hands O!  quickly reached huge audiences across the country and continues to be a handwashing anthem used to reinforce national and regional hygiene promotion initiatives to his day.

Nanpet Chukutu, Programme Manager United Purpose Nigeria, said: “I am delighted that Sunny Neji has once again worked with us to produce this great song. It will reach many young people and communities with a vital, life-saving message – that there are positive actions we can all take right now to stop the spread of this deadly virus.

“Within our community there is limited access to the internet and many people struggle with reading. Music and song are some of the best ways to communicate and share information. Our hope is that as this song is played across Nigerian radio stations, people will remember it and take action to social distance.”

Health experts have warned that African communities are unprepared and the underfunded healthcare system will quickly become overwhelmed in a major coronavirus outbreak. With conditions such as HIV and TB already prevalent in Nigeria and only 0.5 beds available to every 1,000 people, fears are mounting.

Tim Kellow, Country Director of United Purpose, said: “Without a vaccine, the only effective way to stop the spread of a hygiene disease like COVID-19 is to collectively change the behaviour of millions of people in as short a time as possible. This is what we have been doing for six years in Nigeria and other parts of the continent, using song, dance and children’s games.

“When the severity of the current global outbreak became apparent, bringing with it the potential for widespread desperation and disorder in poorer regions, we knew we needed a slightly different take on this proven approach. The result is ‘Together We Will Beat It’ by Sunny Neji.”

To listen to the song, visit https://united-purpose.org/together. Share on social using #SpreadTheLove @United_Purpose.

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