The only vaccine against COVID19 misinformation, is education.

Education is key to empowering communities, and keeping them safe from an outbreak of COVID19, says Kalyango Shafic.

Despite the fact that the government had stopped people from gathering, people in my community crowded together to play Ludo or pool. They had no place to wash their hands, and had no reason to avoid touching their faces (eyes, nose and mouth). My community in Bosaka village, in Kampala, Uganda was potentially highly vulnerable to an outbreak of COVID19. 

People in my community believed a lot of misinformation circling on the internet about coronavirus, about symptoms and cures. And many were panicking. Some were debating whether it is real or not, and not focusing on how we can overcome it. 

Recently I have been distributing safety information about the disease to the members of my community. I have been teaching them what COVID19 is, how it is spread, it’s signs and symptoms and how it can be prevented. I carried out presentations in different households providing safety information about COVID-19 mainly in Luganda and a little in English.

I have seen the difference it has made. The first thing I had to do was overcome misinformation. I taught people how to analyse sources, and not to trust anything unless it comes from a reliable source or reliable medical practitioner. Once I showed them that so much online was false, they were able to stop panicking, and make informed decisions. 

Some members in my community began to set up places to wash and clean their hands more regularly. And I was able to remind them to touch their faces less. I explained to them the dangers which could result in staying in crowded places, I encouraged them to stay isolated and reduce the chance of the virus spreading. 

I was careful to involve a wide range of people; from primary, secondary and university students, to out of school youth, men, women and elderly people. I know that the disease doesn’t discriminate so I needed to ensure my efforts didn’t either. I wanted my message to reach to everyone so that they can prepare and avoid this virus. We must all ensure that information reaches everyone in our society, stopping the spread of the virus depends on us working together. 

Kalyangos COVID19 posters

I also employed several tactics to ensure that my message goes beyond my community to other people I couldn’t physically meet. I designed different banners and flyers, and recorded a short video. I displayed the banners in different places in my community and distributed them to others to share around where people could easily have access to them. I also posted the banners and the video I recorded on different social media platforms. In this way I have been able to extend my influence far further and reach more people with this life saving information. 

It was abundantly clear that people who accessed information were able to realise the dangers of the virus and began to follow the guidelines. Everyone is a potential victim but everyone is a potential solution if they have the right information. 

Feature image by Kerem Giris.

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The only vaccine against COVID19 misinformation, is education.

by Kalyango Shafic Reading time: 2 min