72% Nigerians not afraid of contracting COVID-19- Survey

COVID-19: India takes center stage as global cases surpass 25 million

Doosuur iwambe, Abuja

Despite predictions of a second wave of the novel Coronavirus disease, a survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has revealed that about 71percent of Nigerians are not afraid of contracting the dreaded disease.

Speaking during a presentation at the 4th Annual Health Conference on COVID-19 Reportage Assessment organised by the Assocation of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) in Nasarawa state, UNICEF communication specialist, Dr Geoffrey Njoku, noted that at least 71% of respondents interviewed during the survey felt that they were unlikely to contract COVID-19.

Presenting a paper titled; journalists and COVID-19: communicating a difficult issue’, Dr Njoku said based on the survey conducted in
August 2020, it was unfortunate people in these category are less likely to practice recommended behaviours.

Giving a vivid breakdown of the survey, Dr Njoku said, ” while 38percent of respondents interviewed stated they were not afraid of contracting COVID-19, 32percent did not think that COVID-19 was a serious disease.

“47percent of respondents felt that social distancing was difficult and very difficult and 29percent felt that it was inconvenient.

“17percent said handwashing with soap was inconvenient, 17percent said that masks wearing was difficult and very difficult while 18percent said that it was inconvenient and 11percent said it was ineffective”.

While stressing that the insights reveals an underlying belief that COVID-19 is not real, he added that the people interviewed said they do not know anyone personally who has contracted the disease.

“Those who believe feel that it is a ‘rich man’s diseases. Some think that government has been inflating the number of cases while some believe is a regular flu that can easily be managed with herbs and over the counter drugs”, Dr Njoku added.

He further disclosed that high exposure to COVID-19 messages across all media houses will play a significant role in sensitising Nigerians on the need to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines.

Similarly, the Country Representative World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Mulombo, who maintained the critical role of the media in shaping the health narratives towards achievement of Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria, said there was room to do more.

Represented by WHO’s Media and Communication Specialist, Charity Warigon, he raised concerns over the implications of fake news and misinformation which he fears, are capable of undermining the gains made in the fight against the pandemic.

But worried over the attitude of some journalists towards the COVID-19 protocols, Warigon speaking in her capacity as Media and Communication specialist, advised journalists covering the health best to practice what they preach by adhering strictly to the protocols on social distancing, wearing of face mask, use of hand sanitisers and frequent hand wash.

“Things are very influential in shaping attitude, behaviour, in creating awareness. Please, let us close that gap and do things more seriously. You should do what you preach by obeying COVID-19 protocol and wear your face masks.

“I can see an increasing role of journalists in public health; I see the crucial role that journalists play in public health and supporting Universal Health Coverage and public health currently addressing the issue with infodemic.”

Also, in his presentation titled: “Using Social Media Effectively to Promote Stories”, the Coordinator of African Health Budget Network (AHBN) Dr. Aminu Magashi , urged journalists to always make themselves visible on social media.

He added that social media has become the new normal adding that it is important that journalists are not left behind.

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For his part, ANHEJ President Mr Hassan Zaggi, in his welcome address, said the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak era was a very taking time for journalists in Nigeria.

According to him the Conference with focus on Covid-19 Reportage Assessment was aimed at examining how journalists faired during the period.

“It was indeed very tasking that even though a journalist could not go out to source for information, but he or she is expected to get the needed information across to the people so that they can have required information to protect themselves from the diseases.

“From our own assessment, we did our very best within the circumstances we found ourselves by working with medical and health experts, health-related government institutions and critical stakeholders in the health sector to ensure that our people are well informed about Covid-19. We are still in the business of doing so, even as the good news of vaccine invention livens up the world”, he said.

The event witnessed presentations of several papers from Africa Health Budget Network, AHBN, International Society of Media in Public Health ISMPH and development partners.

Awards were presented to Health Reporters from the print, radio online and television media.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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