Fighting Coronavirus Together: KIU Students Join Effort to Tackle COVID-19 Misinformation
By Kisekka Umar
To create awareness on the novel COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, students of Kampala International University (KIU) have joined the Media Challenge Initiative (MCI) in spreading the gospel of precautionary measures against the Coronavirus.
The students who are also part of the Media Challenge Fellowship Program, together with other learners from different Universities, are translating and recording information about the deadly virus in various dialects of their origin.
According to Kakembo Ali, a radio expert at the MCI, this is one way they think that can help in sensitizing and reducing stigma amongst people about the pandemic. It also trains the students to share the right information as future journalists.
“As people who deal with information, we cannot just look-on as fake news is spreading within our communities. We need to make sure that people get the right information translated into their local languages. That is why we chose to partner with University students and MCI Fellowship Alumni, to record information that sensitizes the general public on what to do and not to do inline with directives from the Ministry of Health,” explained Kakembo.
Kakembo also calls upon University students who are now out for the one-month holiday, to help in sharing the right information via their social media platforms.
Why KIU Students Joined the Noble Cause
Martha Kahunde, a KIU student and a Media Challenge fellow, says that most of the people in her community have been sharing wrong information about the virus because there is an information gap in understanding the English language and translating it to the mother tongue.
Kahunde translated the message from the Ministry of Health from English to Runyoro, which will be played on an online radio for MCI and also the local radio stations in her community of origin.
Andrew Onen, a fellow who translated Coronavirus information into Luo says that, “People are so worried and the pandemic is real. So, we need to protect the people who cannot get first-hand information by translating this message from the Ministry into our local languages.”
Onen, a first-year student of the Diploma in Mass Communication, advises those in different WhatsApp groups to record and share information through the groups in the easiest and understandable language.
Noah Omuya, a Media Challenge Fellowship Alumnus from KIU says that, “Personally, I do not have enough money to donate to those affected by the virus. But with this platform, MCI has given to me as a student; I am proud that I have been able to tell a message in a simplified manner for the local community to understand.”
Omuya translated the message into Ateso, the language spoken by the Iteso in the North Eastern part of Uganda.
The Ministry of Health in Uganda has so far confirmed one case of Coronavirus, and the authorities introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus including; closure of Entebbe International Airport and closure of schools, and also suspended public gatherings whilst advising flue patients to stay home, so that they can contain the spread of the virus.
The Ministry also advises the general public to report any suspected to the nearest health facility or call on the toll-free lines on 0800-203-033 and 0800-100-066.