In Nigeria, radio dramas are set to bust myths around COVID-19

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Demonstration of proper hand washing during the sensitisation in Benue State

By Olajide Adelana

ABUJA, Nigeria – Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Water Resources has launched a ground-breaking radio drama to spread life-saving facts and fight dangerous misinformation in the face of COVID-19.

Radio is one of Nigeria’s leading media channels, reaching tens of millions each day, and with funding and support from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), there remains a huge need for safe, accurate information around handwashing, social distancing and the prevention and transmission of the virus.

Despite the lockdown of two states including the capital city, Abuja, and social distancing measures announced by the Nigerian government, there is still a huge demand for information about COVID-19 that is yet to be met. Disseminating messages through radio is especially effective to reach many people across rural areas.

“The audio drama covers a broad range of ideas and guidance to address misinformation and misconceptions around COVID-19,” says Ms Elizabeth Jeyiol, WSSCC National Coordinator in Nigeria.

“All messages in the show are consistent with safe, proven national and global guidance around hand hygiene and COVID-19 prevention. It’s all designed to help flatten the pandemic curve in Nigeria.”

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Ms Chizoma Opara, Acting Coordinator of the government-led “Clean Nigeria” campaign, which aims to end open defecation, says the drama reflects what many Nigerians think about the virus, correcting falsehoods with scientific facts.

“If we do not adhere to the rules and advice by medical experts the outcome will be devastating. There is so much confusion, particularly in rural areas,” she says.

Across Nigeria, 42 percent of the population uses basic sanitation services and only 21 percent of households have access to basic hand hygiene services, according to the 2018 WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM) survey.

“We need to step up action in the sector. People must be able to wash their hands,” Opara says. “We must make sure that everyone can access safe washing and facilities.”

Nigeria has nearly 1,532 confirmed cases of COVID-19 that are spread across 20 states.