COVID-19: How to dispel misinformation – UNESCO
By Justina Auta
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has stressed the
need for Media and Information Literacy (MIL) competencies to dispel misinformation surrounding COVID-19.
The Officer in Charge of UNESCO Abuja Regional Office, Mr Sow Mamadou-Lamine, made the call during a Webinar with theme “Creating a Peaceful Society: Media and Information Literacy, A Way Out”.
The Webinar was part of activities to mark Regional Commemoration of the Global MIL Week 2020, annually marked to review and celebrate the progress achieved toward “MIL for All”.
Mamadou-Lamine said that media and information competencies would improve access to knowledge for all; freedom of expression, which were necessary to win the war on misinformation.
He added that “we witnessed broad circulation of misinformation and conspiracy on COVID-19 pandemic worldwide in the past 10 months.
“In spite of the late arrival of COVID-19 to some West African countries, related misinformation continued to impede access to trustworthy sources and reliable information, with the ravage of the virus itself.
“The crisis also shed a light on the deficiencies in systematic mechanisms to combat disinformation in an emergency.”
Dr Zubairu Attah, a Consultant and Specialist on gender issues who spoke on Emergency Communication, said media and information literacy ensured better understanding of issues and how to address them to avoid crises and instability in any society.
Attah suggested that strategic behavioural change activities be done structurally, psycho-socially and comprehensively with stakeholders involved to get individual, institutional and corporate attitudinal change, necessary for nation building.
The regional celebration lasted three months from August till November 2020 with activities organised by UNESCO Abuja to combat disinformation from communication experts and the public, especially the youth.