Written by Evance Makolija
A success in the fight against COVID-19 is, to a reasonable extent, dependent on development and dissemination of correct information. It is against this background that, Government, through Ministerial Committee chaired by the Ministry of Health, has been orienting health workers and journalists in the management of COVID-19 to ensure effective preventive and treatment strategies are developed and disseminated. This, to be honesty, was a good move and it is, to some extent, bearing fruits.
But disseminating COVID-19 related information to the public requires a versatile person on the forefront, accompanied by an array of health professionals. That is why news of the appointment of Timothy Mtambo as civic education minister was received with much excitement and expectation, considering his prowess in communicating with the masses with different tribal background. He is a mark of a genius when it comes to this!
Now, with the skyrocketing of covid-19 cases on each passing day, reports from the health personnel point to the fact that here in Malawi, especially in rural areas, Covid-19 is still a myth. As such preventive measures are not being followed as per the government’s assumption. That is where we need Comrade Timothy Mtambo to jump in and play his role as Minister of Civic Education. Comrade Mtambo should realize that he is holding a very key ministry, especially during this time of covid-19 pandemic. The day he was appointed, we expected him to go straight to work considering the problem at hand. It is sad that our leaders think they have done enough to sensitize people about covid-19. When they put covid-19 messages on TVs, radios, newspapers, facebook, WhatsApp and other media, they think thats enough. But let me assure you, there are many out there who cannot afford any of those, not even a radio. There must be some ways of reaching out to such groups.
I wish authorities were vigorous and vigilant in sensitizing rural masses on covid-19 the same way they do with elections. If you go to rural areas today, where a majority of Malawians lives, you will be shocked. The messages that we have been putting across have mainly benefitted those in urban and semi-urban areas of Malawi with a relatively decent standard of living. Most Malawians in the countryside hardly know anything about covid-19 or Coronavirus. It’s a myth to them.
The government, through the ministry of national unity and civic education, has a lot of work to do. Mtambo, as minister responsible for civic education, must be proactive, the same way he was at HRDC and CFT. Honeymoon is over. Let’s get to work. Work hard comrade. You have a huge task. Otherwise, all these efforts we are putting in fighting covid-19 will be in vain if we ignore a large proportion of the population with this important message about covid-19.
Views expressed in this article are those of the author