COVID-19: NGO translates public health messages to 70 African languages

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SLUM and Rural Health Initiative (SRHIN), an NGO, says it has translated public health messages about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic into 70 African languages for effective sensitisation.

Dr. Isaac Olufadewa, the Founder and Executive Director of the organisation, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ilorin on Friday that the translation would also curb misinformation about the pandemic.

He said this development became imperative as lack of understanding of English and French has aided the spreading of misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19.

”SRHIN is re-imagining pandemic communication by translating public health messages gotten from the World Health Organisation (WHO) during this uncertain time to over 70 languages especially many local languages from Africa (found here at www.tinyurl.com/stopcovid).

”These empowering public health infographics have been shared by the USAID’s Social Behaviour Change Communication website, the UNICEF West Africa infographics website, the One Young World website among several other ”reputable organisations.

”It has also been shared on social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook,” Olufadewa said.

He further said that the vision of the project was to prevent community spread and debunk false information about COVID-19.

”Through a bold initiative, billions of people who (like many of our grandparents) do not understand or speak either French or English can now have access to reliable health information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

”This project vision is to prevent community spread and help to debunk false information on the novel coronavirus.

”Our Behaviour Change Communication and Community Engagement Initiative focus on ensuring people have access to COVID-19 prevention and supportive messages to help them stay physically and mentally healthy during these unprecedented times.

”People can only take the right action if they have access to and understand the right information,” Olufadewa said.

He, however, urged public health institutions to share mental health messages as well as recovery stories to allay fears and anxieties.

”Misinformation may also affect the uptake of vaccines in the nearest future as there has been a rise in many anti-vaccination movements.

”We must remember it was vaccines that led to the elimination of smallpox worldwide and also prevented millions of people from having polio, tetanus, tuberculosis, among others.

”We, therefore, need our African political, traditional, community and religious leaders to stand and come out boldly to speak with one voice about the prevention of the coronavirus and vaccine safety to prevent the needless deaths of young people,” Olufadewa said.

He further called for support for SRHIN’s COVID-19 Infographics project to spread reliable information and be able to curtail the panic that this uncertain period brings.

He said many people in Africa and beyond feel at least one or more of the ‘HALT Syndrome’ (Hunger, Angry, Tired and Lonely) as a result of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 virus in many historically marginalised communities in Africa. (NAN)

– May 15, 2020 @ 17:05 GMT |

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