A national risk communication and community engagement campaign for large, closed communities in Singapore
Mon, 12 Apr 2021 / My Brother SG
The national RCCE campaign intends to reach all migrant workers in Singapore. We use the term “migrant worker” to refer to male Work Permit holders. Male ‘Work Permit’ holders make up 12.7% of Singapore’s population, are from countries like Bangladesh, India, and China, and perform low-skilled work in sectors like construction, manufacturing, marine, shipyard, process, or service. Approximately 323’000 migrant workers reside in one of 43 high-density purpose-built dormitories in Singapore, approved to accommodate up to 25,000 residents, housing 6 to 32 residents per unit.
Singapore’s first identified COVID-19 infection case was a Chinese national from Wuhan, tested on 23 January 2020. In March 2020, the first cases of COVID-19 positive migrant workers were identified. On April 14, a “three-pronged strategy” was adopted to curb the spread of the virus, where all dormitories were under lockdown; workers who tested positive and their close contacts were isolated; healthy and essential workers were moved to alternative accommodation such as military camps and empty housing blocks.
By 15 August 2020, Singapore reported over 55’000 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a total of 5.7 million population, the highest number of 975.8 cases per 100 000 in Asia. Migrant workers comprised nearly 95% of the cases, with a prevalence rate of 16.3% compared with 0.04% in the local population. By 7 August 2020, all 323’000 migrant workers residing in dormitories were tested for the virus, in preparation for safe transit back to work. By the end of August, most workers had returned to work.
Number of cases and deaths due to COVID-19 at time of publishing: 59,250 total cases, 29 deaths
Our COVID-19 response comprises several activities:
- Delivery of RCCE via the tailored provision of information products (multilingual booklets, posters, webinars, comics, short films/videos, sound bite/podcasts etc.) and face-to-face participatory workshops
- Setting up an RCCE team from scratch, comprising volunteers (many of whom were/are medical students) and staff
- Capacity building through a migrant worker ambassador programme, training of mobilisers
- Governance through the set-up of My Brother SG, a growing and evolving network comprising of a local steering committee comprising healthcare providers and migrant worker NGO partners with RCCE experience, a technical advisory group comprising international RCCE experts and local and international partners
- Advocacy activities through physical outreach to dormitories, attending closed-door ministerial feedback sessions, research papers, reports and publications produced
An example of multilingual health booklets featuring pictorial messages, tailored for different facilities- dormitories, community isolation facilities housing COVID-19 positive patients, and swab isolation facilities