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COVID-19: Misinformation poses great threat to response efforts—-WHO



COVID-19: Misinformation poses great threat to response efforts----WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that Nigeria can achieving a remarkable COVID-19 response efforts through appropriate and effective communication.

WHO Health Emergency Information & Risk Assessment (HIM) Lead, Dr Geoffrey Namara, stated this during his presentation at a two-day annual conference of the Association of Health Journalists (ANHEJ), in Nasarawa State on Thursday, adding effective communication is a vital tool that  guides the public towards appropriate services and treatment.

Dr. Namara in his presentation titlled: “Understanding key outbreak metrics for accurate reporting”, laments the unfortunate situation wherein conspiracy theorists use distorted Covid-19 narratives and other forms of misinformation and tactics to prevent most Nigerians from accepting Covid-19 vaccines.

He further explained that the media plays a vital role in awareness and reawakening communities consciousness in public health related issues, and urged health journalists to use the opportunity provided by the conference to brainstorm and delibrate with critical stakeholders on relevant information that will convince Nigerians to accept the COVID-19 vaccines.

“Effective communication guides the public towards appropriate services and treatment which helps to prevent or reduce the spread of the disease.

“Misinformation poses a great threat to response efforts.

Journalists must be equipped with relevant knowledge to ensure proper reporting in a health”.

Nothing the actress of the conference theme: “improving confidence in COVID-19 vacvine in Nigeria beyond 2021: the role of the media”, WHO’s Nigeria Communication Officer, Charity Warigon, emphasied that journalists remains a pivot point in achieving the goal of keeping Nigerains safe in times of diseases and pandemic outbreak.

COVID-19: Misinformation poses great threat to response efforts----WHO

Applauding Nigerian journalists on Covid-19 and other health reportage, Warigon said, “Journalists can only improve on what we have achieved so far and even do better, as there is so much to attain in driving confidence in the vaccination effort by building trust and continuously being a trusted and reliable source.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, unlike any pandemic in history, has affected everyone and every country in a manner unexpected, although there had been calls and available support to nations to build their health systems and security in preparation for future outbreaks.

“The media and journalists are the bridge between scientists and the public. It behoves every member of the Fourth Realm of the Estate to, as social responsibility, ensure the provision of accurate, timely, credible, understandable, relevant, and actionable information through various communication channels.

“Our messaging must continue to remind the public that, for the foreseeable future, we must continue to wear masks, physically distance, and avoid the crowd. Being vaccinated doesn’t mean that we can throw caution to the wind and put ourselves and others at risk: relaxing public health and social measures interventions should be done cautiously and with careful attention paid to those who remain unvaccinated”.

She noted that WHO remains resolute in sustaining the mutually beneficial partnership with AHNEJ, towards promoting health and wellbeing, keeping the world safe and serving the vulnerable, to achieve Universal Health Coverage and ensure that no one is left behind.

On his part ANHEJ President, Hassan Zaggi in his welcome address laments that although the Federal Government  is making efforts to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, some enemies of progress are working hard to frustrate the efforts.

He said, as critical stakeholders in the sector, the conference will accord the opportunity to brainstorm on the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine, towards finding workable strategies on how health journalists can convince Nigerians to take the COVID-19.

” If urgent actions are not taken, the federal government’s target to vaccinate 55 million residents of Nigeria by the end of January, 2022, which is 50% of the target population, may not be visible,” Zaggi said.

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