Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity, in conjunction with the ministries of Health and Information has rolled out loud hailing campaign to sensitize the general public on the prevention and containment of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. In its initial stages of the campaign before it rolled out to all the 28 districts, the Ministry target Lilongwe semi-rural and rural areas where 500,000 citizens reached with messages on Covid-19 prevention.
The countrywide loud hailing campaign will be implemented in collaboration with the Public Communication Cluster stakeholders from the Ministries of Health, Information, Local Government, Education and the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust.
Speaking as he appraised the nation on Covid-19 civic education and sensitization efforts at the Central Office of Information in Lilongwe, Civic Education and National Unity Minister, Timothy Pagonachi Mtambo said this is one of the several initiatives the Ministry is undertaking following President Lazarus Chakwera’s declaration of State of Disaster due to Covid-19.
“As a Ministry, we are working in conjunction with various government departments, agencies and non-governmental organizations in civic educating Malawians on how best we can prevent and contain Covid-19 and cast out the misconception Malawians out there have regarding the pandemic,’ said Mtambo. Mtambo added that the Ministry will also utilize social media as well as community and national radio stations in the dissemination of the messages that have been developed about the pandemic prevention. “The Ministry, in collaboration with stakeholders has developed Covid-19 messages that are currently being aired on various community and national radio stations throughout the country. We are also been using social media platforms to target the youth,” Mtambo said.
Mtambo added that the public sensitization initiatives are being implemented using the funds that President Chakwera allocated to the Public Communication Cluster to help spread messages about the pandemic. Commenting on the development, health expert Maziko Matemba welcome the initiatives, saying people in the communities need to be reached again in light of the second wave.
“This is a welcome development, especially for the rural communities as the messages that they have been receiving is different from those in the urban areas. As a matter of fact, the sensitization campaigns have to be supplemented by follow-up to assess if the right messages are indeed reaching the people,” Matemba said.
Matemba advised that the public sensitization messages should emphasize on the preventative measures that have been put in place, to ensure that people are still following them so as to curb the recent spike. “I would advise that the interventions should involve community structures such as chiefs and Community-based Organizations. People have been hearing these messages and people will not trust them if they come from the same stakeholders,” said Matemba.
Malawi has in the past few weeks seen a proliferation of covid-19 cases, which prompted President Lazarus Chakwera to declare Malawi a State of Disaster on January 12, 2021. By Thursday, January 28, the country had registered a total of 13, 918 active cases, with 628 so far dead from the virus since April 2020.