Media practitioners have been enjoined to use their profession towards fighting against ‘misinformation and disinformation’ associated with vaccines and vaccination as the nation continues to combat COVID-19 pandemic.
Secretary to the President of the Federation, Boss Mustapha gave the charge in his
keynote address at the 5th annual conference of the Guild Of Corporate Online Publishers in Lagos as he commended the media for its incredible work so far in the fight against COVID-19.
Speaking on the theme of the conference: “COVID-19 Pandemic: Recovery and Reconstruction in Nigeria,” Mustapha said the Federal Government acknowledged the media for its relentless work in giving accurate and timely reports so far on the pandemic, but implored it to begin the recovery and reconstruction process by fighting against the myths around the vaccine and the pandemic at large.
He was represented by the Executive Secretary, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib as he acknowledged that several battles have been won towards shaping and influencing the narrative around COVID-19 pandemic, Mustapha however noted that the battle was not yet over.
He noted that the next step in the campaign is to battle misinformation and disinformation about vaccination and the vaccines which have led to hesitancy among the public.
The SGF added that although progress is being made in that regards, but there remains the need to win the argument with facts and figures in order to finally climb out of the restriction and socioeconomic impacts imposed by the pandemic.
“I should not fail to acknowledge the role of the media in the fight against the pandemic. Your constructive criticisms, prompt reports of the activities of PTF and your concerted public enlightenment helped in no small measure to douse the negative impacts of conspiracy theories, fake news and vaccine hesitation,” Mustapha added.
He emphasized that the Federal Government appreciated the media for the good job it has done in the reporting of Covid-19 pandemic and related events, but stated that government expects the media to take the challenge of recovery and reconstruction from the sector.
Mustapha charged media practitioners to utilize the power it has to intensify public enlightenment on vaccination: “I urge you to use the power of the media and the articles of your trade, in this instance the words that you write or speak, the caricatures (cartoons) and memes to intensify public enlightenment on vaccination.”
He assured that the government has sufficient Covid-19 vaccines in the country and that more are being expected and therefore appealed to the people to come out to get vaccinated.
“On the part of the Federal Government, I want to assure Nigerians that we have enough vaccines, and we are expecting more. The vaccination efforts led by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency has been hailed as one of the best globally by the World Health Organization.
“We believe that, just as we combated the virus, the vaccination program will ensure that every Nigerian gets access to life saving commodities. Let me restate this here and now that COVID-19 is not a death sentence. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Let us all put our hands to the pump as we begin the recovery and reconstruction,” Mustapha assured.
Mustapha also highlighted some of the measures that have been implemented by the Federal Government for COVID-19 pandemic recovery and reconstruction in Nigeria.
These measures include the establishment of sample collection centers in all LGAs, disease surveillance, and training of notification officers as well as heightened vigilance at points of entry and repositioning the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to command national operations.
Other measures include galvanizing private sector support for public health action, building back better health systems and economic stimulus measures/fiscal policies amongst others.