By Ijeoma UKAZU
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF has urged journalists to disseminate messages that would drive demand creation for Covid-19 vaccines.
Speaking during a two-day media dialogue on Covid-19 vaccine campaign in Enugu State organised by UNICEF in collaboration with The Child Rights Information Bureau, CRIB, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, the Health Specialist and Officer in Charge of UNICEF Enugu Field Office, Dr. Olufemi Adeyemi said, the Nigerian media has been active on Covid-19 message dissemination.
Adeyemi said, “We recognise the active role the media has continued to play right from the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic by ensuring correct and timely messages are disseminated to the public while at the same time enabling rapid and wide spread reach of public health information.
” We have continued to see an upward trend for the promotion of health and hygiene practices by the media in Nigeria, by daily communication to the public of protocols enforced by the government to prevent spread of Covid-19, reinforcement of useful messages on safe health practices such as increased hand washing, use of face coverings, and social distancing.”
He added that UNICEF and partners will continue to respond to the four Covid-19 response pillars adopted by the Nigerian government in line with NCDC guidelines by emphasizing the imperative role of the mass media in today’s fight against Covid-19.
Dr. Adeyemi further stated that, ” With huge reliance on that fact through levels of concerted collaborations with media and related communication outlets for reinforcement of messages on equal access to healthcare, ending discrimination and social stigmatization by providing daily updates to public on ways to combat the pandemic and remain safe.”
The Officer in Charge of UNICEF Enugu Field Office added that there is concerted effort by the Nigerian government, UNICEF and development agencies to ensure that the spread of Covid-19 is brought under control through importation of vaccines and accessibility to vaccines, lamenting that the country still face serious challenges in the areas of public hesitancy, unwillingness and conspiracies against the Covid-19 vaccines, making efforts of government partners and donors unreciprocated.
Debunking the various myths around Covid-19 vaccine, a medical doctor in the Community Medicine Department, Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, ESUT Dr. Obasi Chikezie highlighted the myths which includes: death after two years, convulsion, igniting electric bulb, changes in DNA, chips in vaccines, infertility, depopulation, adding that they are all misleading depriving people from being vaccinated.
He called on Nigerians to go get vaccinated against the virus so as to protect themselves and loved ones from the disease.
Earlier in his remarks, the Communication Specialist, UNICEF Dr. Geoffrey Njoku said the media dialogue objectives are geared towards advocacy to government, federal and state to provide logistics and operation support for the delivery of the vaccine.
Njoku said the objectives further includes: “Demand creation for the uptake of the vaccines, allay fears by anarchists and conspiracy theorists about the safety of the vaccines, highlight the impact of the Covid-19 on education and how vaccine uptake can mitigate further closures.”