The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to grow at an alarming rate, resulting in numerous infections and fatalities across the globe, with the case of Ghana being no different. Given these unprecedented developments, the COVID-19 pandemic has become an information dissemination crisis as well.
Governments around the world need to develop swift, coherent and proportionate responses to the pandemic to bring it under control and minimise its impact on the health and livelihoods of the people.
In Ghana, the mantle falls on the Information Services Department of the Ministry of Information and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to create the awareness of COVID-19 through public education.
The Information Services Department is the principal public relations outfit of the government. Its primary mandate is to disseminate government policies, programmes and activities.
The NCCE, on the other hand, is an independent constitutional commission set up under Article 231 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. The Commission works to promote and sustain democracy, and inculcate in the Ghanaian citizenry the awareness of their rights and obligations, through civic education.
However, the awful financial situations of both institutions have decapacitated their capabilities to perform their core mandates. It is pathetic to note that governments, over the years, have not being providing the NCCE with adequate funding to carry out its duties.
According to a Graphiconline story, sixty Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, retool the NCCE with the necessary funds and logistics to enable it play the critical role of national public education on the novel Coronavirus disease.
They further appealed to the government that the role of the NCCE could not be underestimated in the fight against the COVID -19 due to the crucial role public education plays in efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
According to the statement: “Members of the public have been urged to observe a number of safety protocols. These include social distancing, frequent washing of hands, wearing of facial masks among others, all of which are intended to contain the spread of the disease, and ultimately, bring it under control.
“The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has also been associated with the major problem of proliferation of fake news and misinformation. Indeed, in one of his addresses to the nation, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo flagged it as a major challenge in ongoing efforts to contain and deal with the pandemic.
“A key prerequisite for the success of the measures announced by government, and for public adherence to appropriate protocols for containing the COVID-19 pandemic was public education.”
The NCCE itself has revealed that it was only able to disburse a paltry GH¢100 to each of its district offices for public education on the COVID-19, whilst the commission lacked basic tools and equipment such as public address systems for effective public education.
The Chronicle is indeed appalled at these revelations, and it is no wonder that the inadequacy of public education is not helping matters, as the statistics concerning the COVID-19 continues to rise at a frightening pace.
The propagation of information about the health and safety protocols of the COVID 19 is important in the prevention of the novel disease. The government must up its game and fully resource frontline state agencies in the dissemination of information to fight against the COVID 19.
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