The Nigeria Health Watch Team says it will not relent in its effort at countering misinformation and fake news about COVID-19 in Nigeria.
The Managing Director at Health Watch, Vivianne Ihekweazu, disclosed that in order for Nigerians to stay safe and protect themselves from COVID-19, they need to be accurately informed.
According to her, her organization utilizes advocacy and communication to influence health policy and seek better health and access to healthcare in Nigeria.
“We seek to amplify some of the great work happening in the health sector, challenge the bad, and create a space for positive ideas and action. Through its various platforms, Nigeria Health Watch is a trusted source that provides informed commentary and in-depth analysis of health issues in Nigeria, and always in good conscience”.
The body noted that since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nigeria, there has been an overwhelming amount of information on social media, websites and mainstream media about the virus.
“The increased access to information has led to a proliferation in sources of information, with the consequence that it has enabled the spread of misinformation and fake news. Through a project supported by Meedan and launched in June 2020, Nigeria Health Watch counters misinformation and fake news about COVID-19 in Nigeria.”
“We leveraged on Meedan’s team of public health experts who fact-check health rumours, responding and debunking them. The evolving nature of information about the virus has created a vacuum that is being filled with many unknowns, as a result leaving people vulnerable to misinformation and disinformation.”
In the same vein, the health platform said social and traditional media is used to disseminate the debunked misinformation in an engaging and informative approach.
“This is done by producing multimedia messages to reach different target audiences and especially communities at the grassroots. The platform that Nigeria Health Watch provides is important because it provides feedback for the rumors that are circulating around COVID-19.”
“Our partner has debunked several common rumors, and pieces of misinformation on COVID-19. This includes the myth that malaria and COVID-19 are the same. This is particularly important as malaria cases are at peak at this period in Nigeria and both diseases have similar symptoms but have different modes of transmission and a misdiagnosis could have serious repercussions, harming people’s lives.”