Covid-19: Misinformation, Lack of Transparency and Denial undermining the Fight

Ever since the start of the coronavirus crisis, government and its spokespersons have displayed a lack of transparency towards the media and the public and that could eventually prove deadly. Government has repeatedly tried to exercise total control over information about the pandemic for political reasons. When you repress information in the hope of calming anxious public, or deliberately release supposedly reassuring misinformation, you risk undermining your own credibility and your ability to help people to counter real health threat. Where official information sources are perceived as untrustworthy, the climate is set for the viral spread of unfounded speculation. That is why former President Mahama advised that transparency and accurate information dissemination should be part of the covid-19 fight.

Information freedom and transparency are enormously valuable at this stage. The World Health Organization (WHO) operational planning guidelines specify that governments need to enable two way channels for public information and feedback mechanisms in order to facilitate rapid reaction responses. Public health professionals and epidemic experts also emphasize the importance of trust: mixed messages and attempts to mislead the public for political reasons sow confusion and panic, while the dissemination of evidence-based information can secure public cooperation with government directives.

I have no problem with those who shower praises on Kojo Oppong Nkrumah whenever he puts out the figures. But does the information he puts out represent the pertaining reality? That is what we must sniff around to know.

It should be made clear to the government that refusing to detect cases or not disclosing the relevant figures could only harm the country’s image in the long run. It may look good on the table to have a lower number or unconfirmed cases, but if this phenomenon is the result of incompetence or a deliberate attempt to conceal, confidence in the government’s capability and even integrity would be lost. Government should not let politics interfere with the fight. Transparency and integrity in governance at this point is very important, the lack of these would only exacerbate the current crisis. Government must maintain a high level of transparency to ensure public confidence. Science, not politics, should be the utmost guiding principle in this battle.

Three major factors have contributed to the low figures, government’s low testing, inefficient contact tracing mechanism and information distortion on the part of government. Indeed, the scarcity and high prices of viral testing kits may have been a consideration in deciding how many and which cases are tested. We still have huge number of people on the contact list yet to be reached, and our information ministry is interested in political propaganda than telling us the truth. Undeniably, this may have something to do with this government’s culture of denial, silence, and propaganda – if no one expose their nefarious activities, then it could be treated as nonexistent. Some speculate that it may also be related to fear that it could affect their chances in the coming election. With over 500 cases, government must sit up, bury its propaganda agenda and tackle the pandemic purely from scientific perspective than propaganda.

Source: Ohenenana Obonti Krow

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