African Union Commission says public relations professionals play a critical role in the Covid-19 era by helping organisations to retain their legitimacy, during and after the pandemic.
AUC head of communications Mrs Wynne Musabayana said legitimacy had great significance to the survival of institutions, as it influences consumer and citizen behaviour.
She said Africa CDC often reminded Africa that the coronavirus was now in the communities and that community leadership, ownership and that robust response was the solution in the fight against the pandemic.
“This presents opportunities for PR professionals to adopt diversified corporate social responsibility programmes that engage communities on the new realities, and also contribute to societal well-being; and in the process, help retain confidence in their organisations.”
Mrs Musabayana said this while presenting during the virtual Africa Public Relations Association Conference, where she shared critical messages that PR and communication professionals may find useful in their engagements with stakeholders.
In her presentation, Mrs Musabayana emphasised the imperative for all messaging around the pandemic to be from, or prepared in association with approved and trusted institutions and experts.
“Covid-19 is real and there is great need to debunk fake news and false claims, yes, incredible as it may sound, we still have people that believe that Covid-19 is a hoax,” she said adding, “But, let’s look at the verified scientific facts.”
Mrs Musabayana said the continent appeared to be inching towards a third wave, with negative implications for the capacity of the health sector that already fragile.
More worrying, she said, was the fact that each new wave had been more devastating than the last.
She, however, said that consistently providing scientific facts, data, and solid evidence would be an antidote to misinformation.
The number of infections in Africa rose from 2 in February 2020, to nearly 5 million to date.
Statistics from governments of member states indicate that more than 128,000 Africans have died from the effects of Covid-19.
At 2.7 percent, Africa’s case fatality rate stands higher than the 2,1 percent global average. Mrs Musabayana said adherence to preventive public health and social measures adopted globally, immensely help in containing the pandemic.
“PH and social measures are definitely something the communities can control and take a lead on, in terms of implementing,” she said. “Sharing experiences from elsewhere will help strengthen the case about prevention.”
Mrs Musabayana further said vaccination equalled lives saved and economies saved, hence increase in vaccine uptake will help bring the pandemic to an end.
“This means we need to help boost vaccine take up in communities,” she said.