ASPHCDA inaugurates COVID-19 crisis communication centre

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In a bid to improve acceptance and vaccination of COVID-19 across the state, Anambra State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (ASPHCDA) has inaugurated a Crisis Communication Centre (CRICC) in the state.
The inauguration, which was conducted by the Executive Secretary, ASPHCDA, Dr Chioma Ezenyimulu was held at the ASPHCDA office complex, Awka.
The event had in attendance representatives from schools, Traditional Rulers Council, Chairman Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rotary International, National Orientation Agency, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), ASPHCDA and Ministry of Information.
Dr Ezenyimulu noted that the essence of the exercise was to fill the gap in communication and also address any misinformation about COVID-19 as soon as they arose because vaccination worked.
“People are coming out to be vaccinated and the government at all levels, means well for us. They have provided the vaccines, it is now for us to encourage our people to come out and take it.
“If we are able to achieve herd immunity, it will become very difficult for any virus or pathogen to cause infection. It is very desirable and can only be achieved when a very large number of the population gets vaccinated.’’
The executive secretary urged the team to take the CRICC inauguration seriously at all levels of sectors being represented.
“Let us spread the good news that the vaccines are here; people are taking it, it is safe and effective.
“The elderly are mainly at risk of the virus, but the COVID-19 vaccine is for those that are18 and above. So we are giving everyone a chance, so far you are above 18 years to take the vaccine,” Dr Ezenyimulu explained.
The NPHCDA Anambra State Coordinator, Mr Obioha Agbakwuru noted that a lot of resources had been put in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic at National, State, Local Government Areas (LGAs) as well as Community levels.
“There have been trainings, vaccine procurement, media engagement and social group interactions which have all yield positive results.’’
He thanked the team for contributions made so far especially in the first phase COVID-19 vaccination in Anambra State.
According to him, problems in terms of COVID-19 vaccination have not been surmounted and all hands are needed to be part of resolving these issues.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is still ravaging the World with the delta variant and third wave, NPHCDA and ASPHCDA cannot do it alone as it is something we have to approach collectively.
“The CRICC essentially is designed to help nip in the bud rumours that make COVID-19 vaccination exercise counter-productive.
“We need to look out for those rumours, respond in dispelling them as they come, discuss it as a group and proffer solutions that will counter them promptly,” he emphasized.
The State Health Educator, ASPHCDA, Mrs Uju Onwuegbuzina noted that the CRICC was within the social mobilisation committee at all levels and a vehicle to drive implementation, monitoring, tracking, reporting and documentation of activities at all levels.
“The CRICC is a special purpose vehicle to convey factual information on multimedia, service based and community platforms.
“This will promote behavioural change, debunk misinformation and rumours, generate confidence, trust and demand for vaccination uptake, track and address public sentiment and perception of the COVID-19 vaccination,’’ Mrs Onwuegbuzina explained.
She, however, intimated the team on the goals, expected value addition of CRICC and how it will work, while showing the strategic approaches to reduce hesitancy and improve uptake of COVID-19 vaccine in subsequent phases of vaccination.
Representative of Rotary International, Dr Dennis Ekemezie noted that in development communication, CRICC was a must.
“When COVID-19 started there was dysfunctional communication that created doubts and disaffection in the minds of people and part of what will help us is the multimedia approach.
“Also monitoring and evaluation is very important as we must monitor and have adequate information on happenings. Periodic meetings are also necessary for us to analyse feedback received to know the truth.’’ (MOI)
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