GWERU-Media and Civil Society are a crucial part in building confidence towards government Covid-19 response, an engagement meeting on Covid-19 was told.
Addressing stakeholders at a Vendors Initiative for Social Economic Transformation (VISET) Covid-19 vaccination engagement meeting in collaboration with Gweru City Council recently, health expert Robert Chiduku said it was crucial for information to be availed in a transparent manner to help build vaccination confidence in citizens.
"The challenge we have regarding Covid-19 vaccination is lack of proper information on the vaccination exercise and the vaccine itself as people have been affected by misconceptions and misinformation on social media. This needs to be countered with proper ways of information dissemination and this information must be available for access to every citizen.
"Group polarization is one of the dangers of misinformation, where people now share and pressure each other with negative perceptions concerning the vaccine, with a lot of conspiracy theories arising,” Chiduku said.
Chiduku said it is crucial for media and civil society to be granted access to information with transparency and clarity on the vaccination program to allow for confidence building on vaccination.
National Association for Non-Governmental Organizations (NANGO), Midlands Regional Coordinator, Titus Mangoma said it was also important for civic spaces to be incorporated into the Covid 19 task forces.
"As civic spaces we also need transparency on vaccine information as this is the only thing that will help to build confidence in various constituencies. At the beginning of the pandemic, CSOs were part of the Covid19 taskforces but were later removed.
"The move affected many people as civic spaces have different thematic sectors which work hand in hand with people at the grassroots. We talk of People with Disabilities (PWDs), women and girls, the elderly among others. Through these sectors it’s much easier to educate citizens as they are constantly engaged," said Mangoma.
Gweru Mayor Cllr Josiah Makombe said as a local authority they were also doing their part in engaging communities on the vaccination program.
"We still need to take this exercise to the people's doorsteps so that we also complement government’s efforts of reaching the needed 60% herd immunity.
"We need stakeholders like VISET and Oxfam on board for us to effectively spearhead this initiative. There also need to put in place more mechanisms to raise awareness on the importance of getting the vaccine," Makombe said.
Currently the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), under the guidelines of World Health Organization is administering three Covid 19 vaccines namely Sinopharm and Sinovac both from China and the Covaxin from India.