Saturday 30 May, 2020

Lack of information on COVID-19 fueling stigmatisation, say advocates

Two community advocates are pressing for more creative approaches in the dissemination of information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) to the general public as they said lack of information is fueling stigmatisation.

Claudette Pious, executive director of Children First in Spanish Town, St Catherine and Kevaughn Ellis, founder of Track on the Streets in Allman Town, Kingston stated that the message cannot be a general one but must be packaged and age-appropriate.

“In this current pandemic, it’s not finding someone who has the coronavirus but finding the messengers in the communities who persons will feel comfortable and cooperate with. The persons carrying the messages are very important,” said Pious who noted that demographic is important and that the messages should be tested before they are rolled out.

Both Pious and Ellis were speakers on the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) online discussion entitled, ‘Peace in the Pandemic’, which was held recently. The live discussion focused on how persons are coping with the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as sharing positive initiatives locally that are working during the worldwide pandemic with respect to conflict resolution.

Kevaughn Ellis

The community advocates stated that there should be a mixed medium for the messages, which include town crier, social media, whatsapp messages and traditional media such as radio, television and print. They also noted that the time period in which the messages are played are also vital.

“I think the closer it is to people, then the messages will become more realistic and believable when they have a familiar face to identify with,” said Ellis.

Meanwhile, the advocates commended communities that came up with innovative ideas to protect and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This includes a wash station where sanitations are conducted when leaving and entering the communities.

“We are a resilient set of people so we are going to find a way. It’s the communities coming together, trying to protect themselves. This method should be replicated because this model is very effective,” said Pious.

Mental health issues, which experts have said will likely thrive throughout the pandemic, will require support, the Children First executive director suggested especially for families in inner-city communities.

Meanwhile, the advocates encourage communities to remain safe throughout the pandemic. “Being cooperative, respectful and generous towards each other will help us throughout these hard times as an entire country,” said Ellis.

“Let the peace begin with you in the pandemic, take care, take charge and be responsible and most importantly, be safe,” said Pious.

The other sessions are scheduled for May 20 and May 27 at 5 pm. The topics that will be explored include how women men are coping in the pandemic. Persons are encouraged to log on to the VPA’s Facebook page at vpajamaica to listen and participate in the discussion.

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