As the coronavirus situation in PNG continues to worsen a massive spike in miss-information 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 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’s 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 lies wrapped up in truth, there is a tsunami of miss-information about the virus and the vaccine.
“People might encounter a post containing misinformation on social media, and then repeat it in the real world, this is then passed on at community or village level as established fact.
“The first step in countering the misinformation is to call it out and demand a better standard from the tech companies which the PNG government has been effective at doing.
“The second step is to offer a counter narrative and arm PNG citizens with all the facts so that they can become ambassadors of the truth.
“Save the Children is using national, provincial and local church radio stations to run the radio awareness ads.
“Radio works well in countering misinformation as people trust the medium and it has more gravitas.
“We are trying to arm citizens with facts and information so that they can correct the narrative.
“This isn’t just a battle on two fronts, 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 health messages.