The Minister for Information and National Orientation, Hon. Kwamena Bartels, today underlined the need for information officers to help save the poultry industry which has suffered a set back as a result of the news of the outbreak of the Avian Influenza, popularly known as Bird Flu.
He said the industry in Ghana has witnessed a low patronage of poultry and its products due to the earlier “wrongful” message in the public domain.
Hon. Bartels said this in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Dominic Sampong, a director of the Ministry at a briefing in Accra to equip field information officers of the Information Services Department with facts about the disease.
He further explained that the earlier message received from some International and local media about the disease caused panic and scared those in the poultry industry and the local people, a situation which has adversely affected the industry.
It is in view of this that the National Task Force on Bird Flu began a campaign to educate the populace on the disease.
At present, the task force has just ended press briefing sessions in all the ten regional capitals to educate the press on the subject to remove any misconceptions, and indications are that consumption of poultry has begun picking up.
Mr Bartels explained that even though no outbreak has been recorded in the country so far, government is not resting on its oars because “the incidence of the disease can occur” in farms “as long as we continue to have movement of bird and humans within and across our borders.”
He has therefore called on all to be vigilant and for an intensification of educational programmes to eventually minimise the socio-economic impact on the industry.
The workshop, he said, is intended to reinforce the message on safety measures and stated that ISD staff will be the right agents to carry the message to grassroots level.
He urged ISD staff to, at the moment, focus on educating the people on the economic rather than health implications of the disease since no case of the outbreak has been recorded.
In a speech read on behalf of the UNICEF Representative in Ghana, Dorothy Rozga, Mr Dan Dzide, Programme Communication Officer, UNICEF disclosed that his organisation, in collaboration with ISD and the National Task Force, will from August 24th to September 7th embark on a community campaign on the disease.
According to him, “the briefing session we are witnessing today with regional information officers and cinema commentators is only a first step in the whole process.”
Welcoming the officers, the acting director of ISD, Mr Divine Kwapong, said though liberalisation of the airwaves have led to the proliferation of the media, there is a vast majority of the population unaffected by this phenomenon.
He, therefore, urged the staff to reach the unreached with news and information about government programmes, policies and activities.
Dr Agyin Frimpong, a member of the National Task Force, said the campaign is timely since the northern winter season will soon begin and migratory birds will begin to fly into this region.
This education drive, he stated, will, therefore, enable people living in urban and rural areas detect incidence of the disease and know what to do should the need arise.
Designed to be interactive, the campaign will employ 25 mobile cinema vans from ISD and be carried in nine local languages with educative posters to support the campaign.