Sharing Stories of COVID-19 Survivors Will Tackle Disbelief, Misinformation – Research

Encouraging COVID-19 survivors to share their stories has been identified as one of the ways to tackle the disbelief and misinformation about COVID-19 in Lagos State.

This was recommended in a research titled, “COVID-19 (Mis)information Sources and Low Adherence to Preventive and Vaccine-related Measures”.

The research was conducted by Partnership for African Social and Governance Research, based in Kenya, Action for Empowerment and Accountability Research Programme of University of Sussex, UK, Utafiti Sera Research Policy Community, Institute of Media and Society, the University of Lagos Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development and the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists.

It was noted that “as many of the Lagos State residents claimed that they knew neither someone who was hospitalized for COVID-19 nor someone who died of the virus, it is imperative to encourage survivors to share their stories with people in their immediate localities.

“Such stories should be shared on television, radio, newspaper, social media, and various community communication platforms that exist in different parts of the state. Media houses should seek partnership with relevant actors, such as Lagos State Government, businesses, governmental and non-governmental organisations to incentivize the creation of programmes that specifically allow survivors to share their COVID-19 experiences.”

The research had revealed that people do not trust the government regarding information about COVID-19. “Of all providers of COVID-19 information, doctors and mass media actors were the most trusted, whereas the government was the most distrusted.”

Dr. Wole Oladapo, Lecturer at the Department of Communications at the University of Ibadan, explained that the government needs to ensure that its actions and policies are complementary, as that is instrumental to what people will believe about the virus.

He thereafter recommended that information actors that people consider trustworthy should be allowed to share information about COVID.

“It is expedient that more trusted information actors such as doctors are given platforms to share COVID-19 information. Since the mainstream media are considered most trustworthy by many residents, it is expedient that journalists and media owners continue to ensure that trusted actors continue to enjoy access to their platforms.

“Doctors from local hospitals from across communities in the state should be given a platform to engage members of their immediate communities with COVID-19 information.”

Earlier, Comrade Adeola Ekine, Chairperson, Lagos NAWOJ explained that misinformation about COVID is extremely high and “media houses had to embark on intensive campaigns to debunk false claims that people were sharing about the pandemic.”

She noted that media professionals had to do lots of fact-checking and verifications, to ensure people get the right information.

On his part, Dr. Akin Akingbulu, Executive Director, IMS, mentioned that IMS had to provide capacity building for media professionals during the outbreak of the pandemic, to provide capacity to enable them to report the novel virus accurately.

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