Union Health Ministry organises online workshop with Officials of PIB, BOC, DD, AIR and NHM from 5 South Indian states on Crisis Communication on COVID-19
New Delhi: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in collaboration with UNICEF organised an online workshop today with the Officials of Press Information Bureau (PIB), Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC), Doordarshan (DD), Doordarshan News, All India Radio (AIR), AIR News and State Immunisation Officers and IEC (Information, Education and Communication) officers from National Health Mission from five South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on the need to reinforce messaging on COVID Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) and encourage vaccine uptake.
The session, attended by more than 150 officers from PIB, BOC, DD and AIR from the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, was chaired by Shri Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry.
While addressing the session, Shri Agarwal encouraged the officers to innovate on programming and communication content to encourage community ownership of COVID Appropriate Behaviour and dispel myths, misinformation and disinformation around COVID vaccines to counter vaccine hesitancy. He urged the officers to create a Jan Andolan (Public Movement) for COVID Appropriate Behaviour and to support the world’s largest vaccination drive by featuring community role-models, and broadcasting inspiring stories of COVID warriors, frontline health workers and exemplary community participation.
Acknowledging the constructive role of PIB, DD and AIR in overcoming vaccine hesitancy, he said that PIB fact checks reports, videos and social media posts helps in reporting fake news and amplifies accurate and timely information. DD and AIR too have been using local cultural contexts to amplify vaccination uptake. Since much of the fake news and misinformation circulates on social media, Shri Agarwal urged the officers to make people aware about WhatsApp’s chatbot, which along with International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) connects users to 80+ fact-checking applications; and Twitter and Facebook’s warning systems on labelling misleading information.
Acknowledging the media’s constructive role in overcoming vaccine hesitancy by busting myths and fake news that is shared on ubiquitous social media platforms, he said that “While people may be tired, the virus isn’t. We too have to work tirelessly and with a persistent approach augment our collective fight against COVID-19,”
Shri Agarwal underscored that all those who engage with media and media persons are major influencers of the society as they can encourage people to follow CAB and get vaccinated. “We often are asked ‘when will the third wave come’? My answer to that is ‘when we allow it.’ We have to repeatedly encourage the people to observe COVID Appropriate Behaviour and our media influencers can play a great role in that through messages and being role models,” he said.
He also emphasized on the need to create programming and messaging around the pandemic induced mental health issues.
The participants shared their experiences, best practices from the States, the challenges they face in the field and innovative campaign ideas. Senior officials of the Union Health Ministry, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and representatives from UNICEF attended the session.