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Fake news is retrogressive, warns Mwaba

THERE is need to improve access to resource allocation and information to reinforce the connection between research and policy goals, says Dziwa Science and Technology Trust (DSaT) executive director Veronica Mwaba.

Mwaba said Zambia had great opportunities for science and technological advancement taking into account its young population of 70 per cent.

“There is need to improve access to resource allocation and information to reinforce the connection between research and policy goals. Enhanced education and cooperation with key stakeholders to tackle health and social economic challenges should be prioritised,” she said.

DSaT through the Linking Science Society to Better Lives (LinkSS) project in collaboration with Ministry of Health (MoH), Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIBS) Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) has oriented 128 journalists countrywide to cover COVID-19.

“Particularly, there will be more journalists in the field now to tell the COVID-19 stories than wait for press releases which in many cases go in a one-way fashion. Fake news is retrogressive. Therefore, unverified information should not find space in the news media,” she said. “Specialist reporters in collaboration with scientists should be at the core to turn-around situations for society to believe in the science.”

Mwaba said challenges in the 21st Century are many.

“As we embark on the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, we are mindful that our communication outreach is informed by research. For example, according to the 2019/2020 Trust in the Media in the SADC Region: An Outlook from Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe Baseline Report shows that 45 per cent and 68 per cent of the respondents prefer radio as their main source of the community news. While in Zimbabwe, the preferred source of news are social media platforms,” she said. “However, it is important to note that the digital era has changed journalistic work. Therefore, the team-based approach in the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns will include other platforms for effective communication outreach with policy and other key stakeholders.”

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