'Media exclusion in COVID-19 fight worrisome'

Joseph Mwale

Nyika Media Club President, Joseph Mwale, has decried media exclusion from the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Mwale says, for instance, journalists in Mzuzu have been sidelined in all COVID-19 committees set up by the City Council, a development that is denying them access to relevant information on the pandemic responses among others.

He said this in Mzuzu during day-long orientation of members of Nyika Media Club on COVID-19 pandemic organised by SOS Mzuzu Children's Village.

Nyika Press Club
Journalists follow one of the presentations. Photos by Vyalema Kaluluma-Phiri

"It is very important that we have such meetings to remind those in authority from the government and private sector that when they are coming up with programmes, they should consider the media. When you want them to cover the events, they will not cover the events when they are infected, so in everything that they are doing let's put them as high risk persons and interventions have to include them as well.

"In Mzuzu for example there are so many committees on COVID-19 pandemic that the [City] Council has set up but I have not heard anything about the media. But the funny thing is that at the end of the day they want each of those cluster committees to disseminate their information...why not include them from the word go because they are part of the solution," says Mwale.

He then hailed SOS Mzuzu Children's Village for the training saying it was an eye opener towards presenting accurate information on COVID-19 pandemic as cases continue to surge.

Mzimba North District of Health Office Spokesperson, Lovemore Kabaghe, concurred with Mwale on the need to empower the media with information and resources.

"It is very important that the media should be kept updated about the information on COVID-19 and that's why we feel this is the a new beginning. We are requesting that other donors can come in to support meetings between the DHO and the media so that the media gets updated information from the DHO. But as the DHO we will also try to source funds for the same exercise and we are also promising to give the media daily updates on COVID-19 pandemic," said Kabaghe.

Programme Director at SOS Mzuzu Children's Village, George Kondowe, says they decided to support the training to empower journalists with information that can help to clear misconceptions on COVID-19.

Mzimba North which covers Mzuzu City as of July 28, 2020 it had 474 confirmed COVID-19 cases out of which 57 are health workers. 215 have recovered while ten have so far died.
The district has so far conducted 1, 781 tests.