Use local languages to create awareness on coronavirus – Public health specialist

Dr Ishmael Norman

A public health specialist, Dr. Ismael Norman, has underscored the need for Ghana to use local languages in creating awareness on the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Speaking a public forum organised by Media General on the global scourge of coronavirus Tuesday, Dr Norman said it would be more purposeful to use local dialects to raise awareness and educate the masses on the symptoms, mode of transmission and prevention of the virus. Dr Norman who is President of the Institute for Security, Disaster and Emergency Studies believes that local dialects like Ga, Dagaare, Twi, Ewe, Kasena Nankane and other languages needs to be used instead of relying on only English Language. “It doesn’t serve any purpose when you stand at Korle Bu and you talk to each other when the vast majority of the people can’t even understand the language you are speaking. Let us have the risk communication in their native languages,” he emphasized. Local dialects, he said, should not be used for only political propaganda and campaigns but also for health preparedness and emergency in times like this. He was not satisfied with the attitude of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) as regards public health education on the novel coronavirus. He remarked that, “risk communication and health promotion are two major issues when it comes to public health. Without spewing too much spittle we can all agree that the GHS with its MoH have not done this nation proud”. According to him, the public education that is currently going on in the nation is being championed by the media via newspapers, and Radio and TV broadcast. He also called for a broader and deeper collaboration between GHS and National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) to deal with the needs of people and offer assistance when necessary. NADMO, he said, can conduct a rapid and detailed need assessment for distribution of humanitarian aid if there are confirmed cases of the virus and deaths resulting from that. Although NADMO is part of the stakeholders of GHS and MoH for emergencies, Dr Norman decried that their involvement in planning of interventions is at a low level. He identified lack of respect for the NADMO staff and the lack of transparency in the use of funds allocated for emergencies as the key reasons for lack of inclusion of NADMO officials in the planning process.

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By Ferdinard Tiekon||Ghana]]>