People, leaders, and organizations around the world rallied behind the ongoing importance of wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 and end the pandemic for all!
Pandemic Action Network, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union, 3M, and more than 70 partner organizations launched World Mask Week 2021 with two goals in mind. First to unite the globe around a simple message: masking in public is still one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and others against COVID-19. The second, to show gratitude for those who have masked throughout this pandemic and continue to do so via the message #ThanksForMasking.
World Mask Week came at a pivotal time in the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Delta variant fueling Africa’s third wave, record numbers of cases in countries around the world, and increased spread from Indonesia and Bangladesh to Colombia and South Africa. The campaign was made even more relevant as the U.K. and U.S., countries with relatively high vaccination rates, debated masking guidance and reopening despite a marked increase in cases.
Over the course of one week — July 12-18 — World Mask Week met the moment.:
- People, leaders, and organizations from 171 countries across the globe showed their leadership by masking up, sharing with their networks, and encouraging their peers and communities to help us all stay safe and bring this pandemic to an end.
- Leaders from around the world helped ignite the movement, including WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Africa Regional Director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, and Africa CDC Director Dr. John Nkengasong.
- More than 68 partners from around the world shared content online and offline, including the Ad Council, CDC Foundation, CORE Group, Global Health Council, Goodbye Malaria, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Jhpiego, Just Human Productions, Last Mile Health, Management Sciences for Health, NFID, OAYouth Kenya, PATH, PSI, Washington Global Health Alliance, Women in Global Health, and many, many more.
- Health experts and thought leaders engaged with their communities too, including Eric Feigl-Ding of the Federation of American Scientists and Dr. Tom Frieden of Resolve to Save Lives.
- Doctors, government officials, community members, and others in India started their own World Mask Week Challenge to keep the momentum going.
- FUN FACT: #WorldMaskWeek drove engagement in some of our favorite island nations around the world, including Haiti, Iceland, New Zealand, Madagascar, and Japan!
- AMREF, UNICEF, Save the Children, and WHO shared their own creative content through regional affiliates in numerous countries, including Bangladesh, Botswana, Iraq, Malawi, Nigeria, PAHO, Pakistan, Palestine, Timor-Leste, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to ensure the World Mask Week message was heard around the world.
- The Network seized the relevance and urgency of the moment with a detailed Twitter thread calling for consistent and clear masking policies to protect both the unvaccinated and vaccinated from contracting and spreading COVID-19.
Beyond the conversation taking place on social media, Forbes published a strong piece about the importance of continued masking and featured quotes from Pandemic Action Network co-founder Eloise Todd alongside partner content. In addition, Triple Pundit made the business case for ongoing masking noting that “World Mask Week shouldn’t just be a 2020 or 2021 thing. Wearing masks has become one of the most effective ways to stall the spread of diseases, and companies seeking to check some ESG boxes would be wise to support such a global effort.”
While World Mask Week turned up the volume of this urgent issue, we still need clear and consistent masking guidance at the national level in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Pandemic Action team published a policy briefing called “Why Masking Still Matters” that includes key messaging regarding the importance of continued masking and recommendations for governments, businesses, and individuals. This document will drive Network-wide ongoing advocacy efforts to accelerate clear and consistent masking guidance.
Overall, we learned that responding with urgency is worth it. People around the world — especially those who are bearing the brunt of this raging pandemic — are eager to engage and be a voice for the importance of masking up alongside other interventions such as handwashing, physical distancing, and getting vaccinated when vaccines are available.
Thank you to all of our partners for their dedication to doing whatever it takes to keep the world safe from COVID-19. #ThanksForMasking.
For more information, visit worldmaskweek.com.