As reported cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spike across the metro, Senator Risa Hontiveros urged the government to launch an ‘intensified community-based information campaign’ that will address the public’s fears about COVID-19, halt the spread of misinformation, and better prepare communities against the outbreak.
“Simulan natin sa barangay. We need to deploy our health workers in an intensified information drive to stop the spread of COVID-19,” she said. “Kailangan natin ilapit ang publiko sa totoo at tamang impormasyon na maaring magligtas sa buhay nila at ng kanilang pamilya,” the Senator added.
Hontiveros said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease should organize a nation-wide information campaign that will equip local health officials and barangay health workers (BHWs) with the correct information about COVID-19 – from prevention, to identification and treatment of the disease.
The information drive, she said, must especially target poor or far-flung communities who have less access to TV, radio or social media, and have little to no information about COVID-19 even now: “Dapat maibahagi natin sa lahat ng kabahayan– mayaman man o mahirap – kung ano ang COVID-19, kung ano ang mga sintomas nito, kung ano ang gagawin kapag nahawa, at kung paano maiwasan na mahawa nito.”
Hontiveros explained that the campaign may include the airing of public service announcements, house-to-house information ‘visits’ by local health workers, and distribution of educational materials on COVID-19.
She added that local government units like barangays may also lead community-wide disinfection and cleaning campaigns, and hold emergency response drills to prepare them in case of reported infections.
The senator said that the campaign will go a long way in helping ease the public’s growing anxiety about COVID-19 now that at least 20 cases have been reported in the country. “The less people know about this disease, the more they will worry. If people are fully aware of the situation and what they need to do, then they are less likely to panic,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros added that such a campaign will also help put an end to the proliferation of pseudo-science and bogus claims about COVID-19, especially in social media. “Kapag naibahagi natin sa publiko ang tamang impormasyon sa COVID-19, sana ay wala nang magpapaniwala na magagamot ito ng gulay o mainit na tubig, at sa iba pang naglipanang fake news,” she said. (senate.gov.ph)