Dr Akosua Sarpong, Central Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has underscored the need for the public to be fed with the right information about the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
She said sharing reliable, adequate and truthful information was crucial for controlling the pandemic and therefore, Information Officers and Communicators should be mindful of the information they gave out to the public.
Dr Sarpong said this at a day’s training workshop for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Information Officers (MMDIO) and Communicators in the Central Region on Friday.
It was to educate and build their technical capacities on the COVID-19 pandemic for them to be able to effectively sensitize the public on the disease to prevent its spread.
She said lack of adequate and right information created room for rumours and misconception and had the tendency of putting more lives at risk.
Mrs Manacia Asamoah, Regional Director of the Information Service Department (ISD), who took the officers through the training, urged the MMDIOs to be diligent and propagate the message of calm and not “spread fear”.
She charged them to sensitise the public to know the causes, symptoms and prevention of the COVID-19.
The symptoms include fever, running nose, cough, sore throat, breathing difficulties and possible headache.
Mrs Asamoah further admonished the information officers to leverage on community information centres to reach a larger section of the public, while encouraging them to make the message as simple as possible.
Participants were taken through some of the frequently asked questions about the virus and answers provided to be communicated to the general public.
Practising proper handwashing with soap under running water, observing social distancing and covering nose and mouth with either tissue or folded elbow during sneezing or coughing could curb the spread of the COVID-19.
Mr Mathew Ahwireng, Regional Health Promotion Manager who took the participants through ‘Risk Communication in COVID-19 Emergency Response’ said risk communication was essential in the management of an outbreak.
He said District Public Health Emergency Committee had been re-activated and the Information Officers were automatic members of the committee and urged them to take their activities serious.
Systems to track and detect rumours and public perceptions would be developed and responded to accordingly by the Committee, adding that public perceptions were useful tools to work with in times of an outbreak or pandemic.
Mr Ahwireng encouraged the information officers to use social media to engage the public but cautioned them to follow the protocols to avoid sharing conflicting information.
Giving a situation report in the Central Region in respect to the COVID-19, Mr Ahwireng said four health facilities have been designated as centres, adding that the Region was adequately prepared.
He announced that eight suspected cases, which were sent to Nugochi for testing proved negative and called on the people in the Region to remain calm as it had not recorded any case of the disease.
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