NICE reaches out to 12m with Covid-19 messages

A campaign the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) mounted to raise awareness about Covid-19 pandemic and mobilize people to go for vaccination managed to reach out to 12, 344, 970 in all the 28 districts of the country.

The campaign was carried out within 441 working days spanning 107, 667 kilometres of travel across the country.

Mwalubunju: NICE has reached 12 million people with covid messaging.-Photos by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

NICE undertook Covid-19 awareness and mobilization for vaccination with funding from the Government of Malawi through the Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity.

NICE Executive Director Ollen Mwalubunju confirmed the development in an interview on Monday, saying the campaign realized a 104.6 percent achievement on the overall outreach that had been set at 11, 800, 169 in their plans.

“Further to this, the following was also realized: 110.6 percent achievement for the females that had been planned at 5, 927, 547 compared to 6, 556,024, which was the actual. Additionally, on the distances covered, the plans had forecast that 105,222 kilometres would be covered but at the end of the campaign there was a 102.3 percent achievement that translated into 107, 667 kilometres,” explained Mwalubunju.

He said the male outreach received a slightly smaller outreach than planned with an achievement of 98.6 percent of the planned 5, 872, 622 compared to 5, 788, 946 that was reached.

An activity report NICE has shared with Nyasa Times recommend that myths and misconceptions being peddled by the public require a corresponding response through the appropriate messaging for all Covid-19 as well as messages on the vaccine, especially that this time when there is a new vaccine, Johnson & Johnson, which has been received with some hesitancy.

The report noted the continued existence of myths and misconceptions surrounding the disease.

Among others, the report says some Malawians still believe that Covid-19 is a disease only for the affluent in cities and towns and not the rural masses, a myth that is sadly prevalent in almost all districts whereby in some instances community members accused the loud-hailing teams of being on a mission to spread the virus among rural people.

Others were spreading lies that one would die within two years after getting the vaccine.

Mwalubunju said the campaign has managed to dispel such myths and misconceptions through the campaign.

He, however, disclosed that his organization did not employ its traditional 360 degrees approach to civic education in the second Covid-19 awareness campaign due to government restrictions on public gatherings and the threat other approaches would pose to the public.

“NICE traditionally uses the 360 degrees model of civic education which essentially leaves no space in raising awareness and mobilizing communities; however, this model was negatively affected by the new Covid-19 which led to restrictions including the need to practice social distancing and limit the sizes of groups among all Malawians.

The methods used to reach out to the communities were designed in such a way that NICE staff and the communities engaged are safeguarded from either contracting or spreading the corona virus, while at the same time being able to go a step further beyond just loud hailing, but also to engage with the citizens to offer opportunity for clarifications on issues through question-and-answer engagements,” he explained.

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