UNESCO Laureate, Professor Sir Bashiru Aremu has tasked federal government of Nigeria, and Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) to partner with key Stakeholders towards ending the global Covid-19 pandemic, that Government alone cannot proFfer solutions to the deadly disease.
The World Distinguished Professor of Information and Communication Technology made this appeal in a press statement made available to Newsmen today stated that the number of people exposed to the risk of COVID-19 in Nigeria increases on daily basis.
According to him, healthcare providers and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have a lot on their shoulders and we must all understand that as investigations are ongoing about managing the pandemic.
The UNESCO Laureate cautions federal government and NCDC to stop doing it alone. He advised that it has now become urgent and important for the federal authorities to partner with key stakeholders, such as researchers, green academia, professors, scientists others in Nigeria.
In his words: “The ability to curb and stop the spread might hinge on collaboration and coordination with key partners and stakeholders, however, effective communication plays a critical role in the overall success”.
“In today’s 24-hour news cycle and digital media environment, people constantly receive information from many sources; from print, electronic and social media, and indeed, more than ever, people want to know what is happening, who is affected, how they got infected, among others”.
“To a large extent, the NCDC has done its best to provide the media with information and answers about the pandemic, however, because of the ways which news is disseminated of late, the public health authorities need to be pragmatic in the way they communicate with the media and the citizens”.
“There seems to be a little bit of compliance with the elite. Research has narrowed down the majority of people who deliberately or otherwise flout the directives of the health authorities and the Federal Government in Nigeria to those who do not have access to social media platforms. A fraction of these people are on radio while a good percentage are in their various communities, relying on the community heads to pass down information”.
“It will surprise you that in this day and age when community plans are even available on the internet to just convert into a plan that can be implemented to essentially educate this cadre of people, we still struggle as a country to communicate adequately to these citizens. The general public’s perception of risk often does not match science-based reality, if the public does not perceive risk they won’t respond adequately”.
“Trust is the key principle in risk communication. Without trust, the public will not believe or act on information/directives provided by the health agencies or the Federal Government”.
“Nigerians have expressed their disappointment on Twitter and Facebook implying that they will soon lose total trust for the agency if this keeps repeating itself. When communication is seamless, it helps manage people’s expectations and fears and makes it more likely that they’ll follow future instructions from officials during the crisis. If it’s done poorly, though, it can undermine trust in the institutions Information should be early, empathetic, accurate, and effective”.
“Early communication will help limit misinformation and rumours that could contribute to confusion and fear”, UNESCO Laureate said.
“People are locked down in their various homes indefinitely with so many uncertainties, and the least the government can do is to ensure the citizens have up to date information and not only on the number of deaths and increasing number of infected citizens but transparency and accountability in the way that the spread is being curbed”.
“Even as we speak, health experts have come on national television to express their scepticism about the NCDC protocol while reports about testing capacity are also not clear to people”, UNESCO Laureate, Prof Sir Bashiru Aremu added.