By Olivia Lundako
Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Kennedy Malama says bridging the information gap in Covid-19 pandemic period, is a matter of urgency.
And Dziwa Science and Technology Trust(DSaT) Executive Director Veronica Mwaba says the country must rely on local expertise to identify, treat and avert COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking in the speech read on his behalf by Ministry of Health official Kalangwa Kalangwa at the the media and science networking event in Lusaka, Dr Malama said with the Covid-19 Pandemic, information on science must be broken down.
“Therefore, I would like to urge health professionals and other experts in all the sectors to be fully engaged on such platforms such as this one, to share the information that can easily be understood by all participants. In short – break the jargon in Science.
“pleased to note that DSaT’s vision to realise a scientifically informed and prosperous Zambia is an all inclusive approach in the communications outreach. Thus let me take this opportunity to encourage other key stakeholder and interest groups to come on board and support all local NGOs in Science advocacy campaigns for the benefit of our country,” he said.
And Dr Malama said Government places great emphasis on the promotion of Science and Technology in the country.
The PS said Government is fully aware of the ever increasing demand for quality health care and improved service delivery.
“… And more critical, for me, the issue on the agenda is at the very center of my interest. That is bridging the information gap through improved communication,” He said, adding, “Therefore Government remains committed to support initiatives that are aimed at the promotion of public health in the country,” she said
Meanwhile, Mrs Mwaba is happy that the COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund has come at a time when the world is still struggling to contain the pandemic.
The COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund is a partnership between the IDRC, the NRF, the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the UK Research and Innovation through the Newton Fund, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation and the Fonds de Recherche du Québec. Several councils participating in the Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa are providing additional support.
According to the DSaT Founder, the Linking Science Society to Better Lives (LSSBL) project will bring together, researchers, science journalists, academia, NGO’s, public and key industry players to highlight the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, current scientific research and its relevance to society.
“…Therefore,there is need to orient journalists to report on public health effectively. Media have a huge task and remain a critical source of information dissemination and education to bridge the knowledge gap in public engagement,” the delighted Mrs And she said.
And Mrs Mwaba said research indicates that before the outbreak of the pandemic, 820 million people in the world suffer from hunger.
” In sub-Saharan Africa, poverty levels remain high. For example, recent studies show that 239 million people in the region are undernourished. Experts say unless immediate action is taken, the world could experience a global food emergency. In Africa countries including Zambia, have not been spared from the adverse effects of climate change. It is on record that food security is threatened, drought and floods have been experienced in selected areas. For example, the livestock and crops have not been spared from disease and pests in selected districts.
“Without leaving anyone behind” the LinkSS project will endeavor to collaborate with researchers, and partners taking care of marginalized groups on communication interventions to address the needs on health related issues.
Observing that the new corona virus is intricate and a health concern,” she said
Mrs Mwaba says journalists should take keen interest in gender to allow active participation by both males and females regardless of their standing in society to tell their stories on health issues.
“As you are aware, key sectors of the economy are anchored on science. Therefore, I would like to appeal to the government of Zambia through you Sir, Permanent Secretary Dr. Kennedy Malama and the business community at large to come on board and support science communication campaigns and advocacy campaigns across the country,” she said.
She said the orientation is just the beginning. We are going to support other journalists from the rural areas to access virtual training on COVID-19 and Public Health.
Thank you very much for coming to this networking event with journalists and researchers,” she said