By Patrick Okohue
The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu has commended the media for its efforts in informing and educating Nigerians about the need of keeping safe in the face of the ravaging Covid-19 global pandemic, but said the gains so far made will be lost unless the media continue in their work of continuous enlightenment of the people about the dangers of the disease.
Dr. Ihekweazu said that though the country seems safe for now, that there could be a second wave of the disease if the people are not properly educated about not letting down their guards, but continue in observing the necessary Covid-19 protocols and obeying all related rules.
The NCDC boss who spoke on Friday at the sideline of a meeting with top media executives in Lagos, noted that unless the media continue in the work of enlightening the people about the needs to keep obeying the Covid-19 protocols, then the dangers may not really be over.
He said the purpose of the meeting with the media owners and managers, “is to highlight our shared responsibility in informing the public accurately about the work we are doing at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), in protecting the health of Nigerians.
“I think the Covid outbreak has really demonstrated how important the work the media has to do with us is.
Very often we are always in a reactive mode, but this time we felt it is important to engage proactively, and the media really understand our mandate in a large scale and we need to find a common ground approach to really informing Nigerians, so that we can properly protect ourselves.
“Convid-19 is a very big outbreak, a bad one, but it will not be the last one that Nigeria we have, so we better start now in preparing for the future.
“A second wave of Covid is not inevitable, it really depends on what we do, so we have been working very hard through our aviation industry to prevent new cases from coming into Nigeria, so, yes, there has been some inconveniences in the testing, but that testing before travel and after travel is one of the most stringent measures by any country in the world and even though it has been a little bit inconveniencing for travelers, the primary objective is to prevent a second wave of infection in Nigeria and so far we have been successful in doing so.
“The challenge is that this outbreak is not over, we can’t afford to drop the ball, so we have to continue doing this thing.
Somewhere in the horizon we are grateful for the opportunity of having a vaccine in a few months, it will still take a long time, not until enough doses are developed to go around the world, though I know they are working around the clock to develop that, but until we get to that stage we have to work together to sustain the gains that we have made in Nigeria and keep the infection rate down,” he said.
Ihekweazu noted that he very well understands that whatever gains that has been made can be rubbished by any negative, fake report on social media, which is why he said the NCDC has been proactive in ensuring that they are on top of the game in dousing any fake news that may arise from the social media.
“At the NCDC, we take communication very seriously, we feel it is our responsibility to develop accurate messaging, today we have engaged with mainstream media, the Editors, the CEOs to really form a collaboration, something that is very important, but as for the social media, well, the NCDC itself has over a million followers and we take that following on social media very seriously and make sure we provide information to the public directly through social media platform.
“But, it is important that you know you can’t control everything, so ours is to ensure that there is a counterbalance to whatever breaking news is there, that we are reacting to whatever news is put out there immediately, but we are also pro-active in releasing our situation report, accurate data on a timely basis and making it available to every Nigeria, every Nigerian deserves to know,” he added.