Calls for adoption of social and behaviour change communication
By Sola Ogundipe
As the second wave of COVID-19 infections continues to spike, the Chairman, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Ministerial Experts Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Dr. Ejike Oji has admonished Nigerians to wake up to reality and desist from self-denial over the existence of the COVID-19 virus.
Oji, who lamented the spike in new cases and deaths in the country in recent times said persons who live in denial for so long, tend to find out the truth when it is too late and they have come down with the infection and need to go for treatment.
He said it was far more rewarding to be more conscious of the risks of COVID-19 infection, and take preventive measures and its potential health effects and socio-economic impact.
“Nigerians are still in denial and spreading the conspiracy theories. There are many persons that come down with COVID-19 infection when they go for treatment, they are denying and calling it malaria. People should stop being in denial because deaths are occurring every day now, ” he noted.
Calling for continuous public awareness of the pandemic, Oji said even though many people are aware of the pandemic, they lack an understanding of it.
“There are keywords in communication. People are aware, but awareness alone is not enough. What are they aware of? There must be continuous public education too. They are aware that there is coronavirus but it is mainly the conspiracy theories that they know.
“It is the public health education component that is important. There should be educated on the need to use masks. This is a behavioural change communication thing; it is not just that there is coronavirus alone.”
Oji said utilising the social and behaviour change communication strategy is the only way people would understand what is going enough.
“People think that spending money on opening isolation centres only is important. Yes, it is important, but if the government had unfolded resources in terms of community education and engagement, it would reduce the number of infections and also the number of people to be treated, and then, the attendant cost would be a lot lower.”
Over the weekend, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country exceeded 120,600 with more than 1,500 deaths.