SURELY, the world has seen several outbreaks of natural disasters of earthquakes, tsunami and predicted how to be alerted if another one is on the edge of erupting, but failed on diseases like Ebola virus, Yellow Fever, Zika, Influenza, Cholera, you name it including the Spanish flu that killed more than 50 million people more than the death toll from the First World War.
Outbreaks are a fact of life, and the world remains vulnerable, implying that no one (government, a country) should be blamed. We do not know where and when the next global pandemic will occur, but we know that it will take a terrible toll, both on human life and on the global economy.
However, when a disease epidemic sweeps across the world, no region or country would be safe, hence reliance on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to coordinate responders, proper health information through the media that plays a crucial role at each step to the grassroots, so that people know what to do without panic or fear.
At a country level, the government through public health officials takes measures to try and halt the spread of any disease, especially the Covid-19 that is now a global concern and should not solicit unnecessary politics.
To address the disease that is now mutating and still a concern having killed 3.87 million people globally according to the latest data from John Hopkins University, the issue announcements (“Cover your face when you sneeze!”) and encourage people to take precautionary measures or seek treatment, will not work if the same people are not reminded time and again, because it was not a culture they were brought up with.
But these interventions are only effective if people see them and take action and it is the role of the media, because according to Scientists, research shows that mass media coverage – including television, radio, newspapers, billboards and booklets – can have an effect on our behavior.
In fact, news coverage in the mass media can have a big impact on people’s behavior, reducing the number of new cases of the disease and if possible, the government(s) should allocate funds to maximize this benefit so that the media coverages last long and spread constant and enough reports on the epidemic.
These aspects make most people to either seek the internet or media for more information and way forward, and if these are not encouraged a vacuum will be created and set a pace for hearsays, unnecessary rumours and what follows is panic in public.