Interdenominational group decries poor Covid-19 messaging in rural settings

Lilongwe Interfaith Dialogue Association (Lida) has called for more collaborative efforts between the government and non-governmental organizations in the dissemination of information about the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Jere urged Lida members to quickly draw a plan to form a basis for acquiring resources

An executive member of Lida, Senior Group Village Head (SGVH) Chapsinja, speaking on Thursday during an interface meeting held at the Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) Headquarters in Area 25 in Lilongwe, lamented the scanty and sometimes misleading information and messages about the pandemic in the rural settings.

Lida operates under the Inter Religious Dialogue and Conflict Management Project, which CfSC is implementing with funding from a German charity organization, Miserior.

The core function of the association is to facilitate and promote religious tolerance for peaceful coexistence between and among ethno-religious and political groups.

However, the leadership of the association believes it can play a key role in fighting Covid-19 by taking advantage of the influence and respect its members have, especially in rural areas for being faith leaders and other key stakeholders.

Members of the association met in Lilongwe to brainstorm on how they would conduct the sensitizations, fearing that the false myths and theories among “illiterate” rural people could lead to more Covid cases and deaths.

And in his contribution during the meeting, Chapsinja emphasized the need for the association to partner with the government and other non-state actors in disseminating the correct information about the disease to the people.

“I feel there is still little being done to sensitize rural people some of whom are still stuck in false myths and theories, which frustrate national efforts in fighting Covid-19. We need to tap from the government resources and skills to advance correct information on the disease to the rural people who have no source of news,” said the chief.

CFSC Inter Religious Dialogue Program Officer, Tobias Jere, concurred with the Lida members, adding that fighting the Covid-19 pandemic is indeed the role of everyone.

He urged the Lida members to quickly draw a plan which he said would be a basis for acquiring resources in order to roll out their sensitizations.

Among many other false myths and theories, there is a tendency of disregarding Covid-19 preventive measures on the basis that the disease is meant for rich people in cities and towns or that it does not exist at all.

There are also growing acts of attacking health workers whenever they declare a sickness as Covid-19 or pronounce a death as a result of Covid-19.

On Monday this week, the Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity launched a countrywide Covid-19 Loud Hailing Campaign to address fake news surrounding the pandemic.

The campaign will be implemented in all the corners of the country, according to the minister responsible, Timothy Pagonachi Mtambo.


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