As the coronavirus cases in Papua New Guinea continue to rise, a massive spike in misinformation and fake news is undermining efforts to bring the outbreak under control.
NGO and health workers on the ground in PNG have described the misinformation as spreading faster than the coronavirus itself.
Save the Children PNG is helping to combat the misinformation through a series of targeted radio advertisements. The organisation is running three different bulletins that clarify how COVID-19 is spread, how to reduce the risk of contracting it, and pandemic parenting tips for caregivers and parents.
Save the Children PNG Country Manager Gerry Dyer said:
“We’ve seen around the world the dire consequences fake news and misinformation can have in the middle of a pandemic.
“What we are seeing in PNG is a tsunami of misinformation about the virus and the vaccine that will cost lives.
“People may encounter a social media post containing misinformation, and then repeat it in the real world as established fact. This is dangerous when accurate information is key to stopping the spread of the virus.
“The first step in countering the misinformation is to call it out and demand a better standard from social media companies.
“The second step is to arm every PNG citizen with all the facts so that we can become truth ambassadors.
“Save the Children PNG is using national, provincial and local church radio stations to help give people the information they need to protect themselves and their families.
“Radio works well in countering misinformation as people trust the medium and it is accessible to remote communities.
“The misinformation is coming from every direction and spreading faster than the virus itself.”
Save the Children used radio bulletins in 2020 to reach an estimated 1.1 million people across PNG with important public health messages.