The leader of the national risk communication and social mobilisation on COVID- 19, Dr Aboagye Da Costa has stressed the need for journalists to check their information from the Ghana Health Service COVID -19 Website for facts and rightful information as continuous misinformation is a serious threat to the fight against coronavirus in Ghana.
Leading a public education training session for regional information directors and officers of the Information Services Department, Dr Da Costa advised journalists to desist from spreading misleading information. According to him, misinformation spread during this health crisis can cause fear, panic , stigmatization and left people unprotected or more vulnerable to the virus.
Dr Da Costa further noted that, the Health Promotion Division of the Ghana Health Service has come up with public educational materials to be used nationwide. He advised organisations to use only approved materials and messages from the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health in this COVID 19 public education for consistency and standardisation.
He said lots of false and misleading messages were being bandied around on the social media about the disease and it is imperative for information officers to provide only truthful and accurate information to the public.
Dr Aboagye Da-Costa, also the Director of Health Promotion gave the advice at a day’s trainer-of-trainers workshop held in Accra. The event was organised by the Ministry of Information for Regional Directors and Information Officers of the ISD to adequately equip them with relevant information to help educate the public on the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Da-Costa took participants through some of the frequently asked questions about the virus and provided answers, explaining that, it is imperative for information officers to provide the right messages to calm people down, instead of creating fear and panic.
The participants were provided with posters and flyers developed by the Ghana Health Service as reference materials for the national education campaign against the flu-like disease.
Mr Pius Enam Hadzide, a Deputy Minister of Information, in his welcome remarks, said the Ministry has been tasked by the President to provide a platform for public education and regional information officers are supposed to play a critical part in the information dissemination drive.
“We must justify the confidence reposed in us by the President and should discharge our duties diligently and successfully. In this way, any time our Minister goes to Cabinet meetings and requests for resourcing and retooling of the ISD, he would be taken seriously.
“Take the public education campaign as your personal project and deliver to the expectation of the government,” Mr Hadzide advised.
Currently, the ISD has 32 regional information officers, over 200 district information officers and 1,000 officers including van operators and announcers across the 260 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister said government would soon leverage on the brand equity of celebrities including musicians, footballers, actors and actresses as well as influential persons in the society to support the national education campaign against Covid-19.
Dettol also took participants through proper hand washing with soap under running water and advised the information officers to educate the public on it.