Ministry of Health and United Nations join forces on #MaskUpZambia campaign

Campaign helps promote positive messages about wearing face masks in public.

John James
High school girl and boy in face masks in street in Zambia.
UNICEF/Zambia/2021/Siakachoma
22 March 2021

With the second wave in full flow and widespread concern about lack of adherence to public health guidance, on 6 February 2021, the Minister of Health Honourable Dr Jonas Chanda MP launched the #MaskUpZambia initiative with the United Nations to promote regular and correct masking in public places.

Over the next few weeks, hundreds of Zambians, notably young people, used their social media channels to post photos of themselves wearing a mask and spreading the word with the hashtag. The campaign saw participation from sport personalities like Patson Daka and Enock Mwepu; musicians like Wezi, B.Flow, Esther Chungu; celebrities including Lulu Haangala-Wood and Simon Mwewa; as well as online influencers, diplomats, and hundreds of young people.

“A great campaign to get behind because COVID is still very present in our communities,” said Zambian footballer star Patson Daka. “Let’s remember to always mask up whenever we move around as well as observing social distancing.”

Many different organisations joined the campaign online including the Zambia Red Cross, World Vision, Save the Children, Lifeline/Childline, as well as youth associations, the media and private companies. Within a few days the campaign was officially trending on Twitter, made the ZNBC evening news and Facebook was particularly popular for posts.

Young woman in face mask with mobile phone, on social media card design
UNICEF/Zambia/2021

“Our mask up Zambia campaign has seen many of our community heroes and celebrities alike come out on different social media platforms to support the movement. I thank you all for the part you continue to play in ending COVID-19 and urge you not to relent in your efforts,” said the Minister of Health at the end of the first week of the campaign.

The simple campaign was explained using attractive social media cards, and backed up with offline outreach, and included stickers, t-shirts and billboards. Third party media monitoring found the campaign resulted in 1.7 million social media impressions for posts.

The campaign was supported through UNICEF by funding from the Scottish Government’s International Development Fund.