Stop fueling fear, stigma


PAPUA New Guinea’s death toll now stands at 45 with over 5,000 Covid-19 cases reported so far since the first case a year ago.
The numbers are increasing everyday.
Last Wednesday, 8,000 Covid-19 vaccines (AstraZeneca) arrived from Australia as part of its ongoing assistance to PNG to combat the spread of the Covid-19 in the country.
The vaccination that is expected to be rolled out this week, is not compulsory, but priority would be given to frontline health workers, essential workers, and Australian residents in country with a special batch for Ok Tedi Mining Ltd.
While the Government is focusing on the vaccination roll-out, theories have flooded social media against the use of the vaccines causing confusion.
Creating fear and stigma is not the best option to dealing with any outbreak of the coronavirus.
It is understandable that there is confusion, anxiety and fear among the public during this trying time.
Unfortunately, these factors will not help to contain the spread of coronavirus.
In times like this, everyone should be working together.
We all need to be intentional and thoughtful when communicating on social media and other communication platforms, showing supportive behaviours around the Covid-19.
Let’s share facts and accurate information about the coronavirus.
The way we communicate can affect the attitude of others.
In an age where information is mass produced and accessible at the touch of a button, what the public really must have is relevant knowledge.
Everyone has the responsibility of telling the truth about public issues.
In times of crises, accurate information is important if we are to maintain order and for people to remain calm.
It is important for everyone to get facts from trusted sources.
We have said it and will continue that The National will continue to emphasis the importance of communicating the Covid-19 as important in supporting people to take effective action to help combat the virus and to avoid fuelling fear and stigma.
We still have people moving around unnecessarily and without mask.
Some have their mask on incorrectly.
And it makes one wonder, do they understand and are just being ignorant or have they forgotten?
The educated will say, PNG had a year to prepare for the effects of the Covid-19 and that we agree in terms of the country’s preparedness.
As much as we want to shift that thinking down to our people, let us remember, not everyone will have a smart phone, radio or television set and with the literacy level low in the country.
Maybe brochures and pamphlets with graphics should be used and printed in local languages including English and Tok Pisin.
How much effort has the provincial health authorities put into the actual awareness of sitting down in communities and distributing pamphlets of what will happen to those with underlining medical conditions if they are infected with coronavirus?
Are they teaching our people about how they can look after the old and those vulnerable.
What sort of food should one eat to support his/her immune system?
We all have the responsibility of using simple language and avoid clinical terms given the literacy level in the country.
We have said this and will continue to stress on it that a lot of our people who don’t have much education are gullible to whatever information is spread.