The State Coordinator of World Health Organisation (WHO) in Lagos, Mr Sam Yenyi, on Wednesday, urged Nigerians not to stigmatise survivors of coronavirus pandemic, saying that stigmatisation would hinder people from speaking up when they observe the symptoms of the virus.
Yenyi made this call at the ‘World Health Organisation Risk Communication and Community Engagement Pilot Training for Media Practitioners and Journalists’ in Lagos state.
He added that the essence of the training programme was to enhance the productivity of journalists regarding the reporting of coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, saying that the media is an important partner in the fight against the virus.
Yenyi advised Nigerians to continue to follow the COVID-19 protocols in any of their social engagement, adding that wearing of facemask is important despite its inconveniences.
One of the facilitators who spoke on ” Risk Communication and Community Engagement”, Dr Remi Kushimo, enjoined journalists to write accurate reports about the virus, saying with that citizens would start to believe the existence of COVID-19.
Kushimo said the media need to send its message out to the public in a language the people will understand and could respond positively.
” The media need to send its message out to the people in a way and language they will understand and response positively to.The feedback from the public is very important and it is through the reports written by journalists that we will be able to get feedback from the people on this battle against COVID-19.
” Journalists should dish out information that will create emotional attachment to the risk of contracting the virus. Nigerians are emotionally detached from the implication of contracting the virus right now. It is the responsibility of the media to ensure that people are emotionally attached so that they will not be careless in contracting the virus.
She added that keeping social distancing and vaccination of people would help to reduce the spread of the virus in the country, adding that when the vaccine arrives Nigeria, people should be encouraged to receive it.
” When the vaccine arrives Nigeria, the media should create awareness that will encourage people to participate in the vaccination exercise. Messages that will create fear in the mind of the people should be avoided. People should be encouraged to receive the vaccine through the kind of information the media dish out to the society.
” The right message at the right time from the right person can save lives. When we don’t have these three things together, people die”, said Kushimo.
The training was attended by senior journalists across all sections of the media including the print, broadcast and the online was put together by Lagos state Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO).