State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mian Farrukh Habib has urged the universities and academia to play their role for creating awareness among people about COVID 19 and bring positive change in their behavior to cope with the pandemic.
He was addressing a webinar titled “Health Literacy and Public Policy of Pakistan in Covid-19: Challenges in Communication, Action and Advocacy in Digital Age” and it was organized by PU Department of Development Communication in collaboration with Department of Digital Media. Federal Parliamentary Secretary National Health Services Dr Nosheen Hamid, PU VC Prof Dr Niaz Ahmad Akhter, Pro VC Prof Dr Saleem Mazhar, Chairperson Department of Development Communication Dr Ayesha Ashfaq, Chairperson Department of Digital Media Dr Savera Shami, faculty members and students were attended the webinar.
Addressing the webinar, Mr Habib said that it was really a difficult task to convince people to follow SoPs against the novel coronavirus as our population had not accepted it. He said that it was a great challenge for the state institutions to curb spread of COVID 19 under the prevailing situation however, the government through smart initiatives had controlled the spread of disease and its efforts had been hailed by international organizations.
He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had established the National Command and Operation Centre to control this pandemic which made excellent decisions on the basis of data. He said that effective communication strategies and their implementation was a need of the hour to create awareness and a sense of responsibility among citizens. He said that the government had launched various campaigns through TV channels, print media and digital media and involved various segments of society to minimize the spread of COVID 19.
Dr Nosheen Hamid said that there was a need to change lifestyle. She said that it was a big challenge to create awareness about a disease with correct information among the people. Therefore, she said, the role of media and digital media became much important to achieve this goal. She said that whereas social media had so many advantages to quickly spread good information, it had a major disadvantage of spreading misinformation and misleading the public at large too. She said that it was necessary to give true information to the people and inform them about various facts on any issue timely. She said that the awareness messages must be tailored so that the understanding needs of individuals could be addressed for comprehension of the spirit of the messages.
PU VC Prof Niaz Ahmed said that the government had played an active role to answer the challenge of COVID 19 with excellent strategies. He said that the higher education sector in Pakistan had proved that it had the ability to solve any problems in the pandemic. He said that the higher education sector had saved the precious time of the students by evolving and implementing various strategies. He said that the universities had also played their role to create awareness among the people about the disease. He appreciated the efforts of Dr Ayesha Ashfaq and Dr Savera Shami for organizing the seminar playing their role in this mission to serve humanity.
Pro Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Saleem Mazhar said that it was very hard to convince a person believing in wrong remedies or having false information about a disease. Therefore, he said, there was a need to launch campaigns through various channels especially digital media to create awareness among people with information about a disease.
Dr Savera Shami said that there was a need to strengthen linkage between the government and the universities to cope with the pandemic. She said that both the sectors should benefit from resources and abilities of each other as this was a must to cope with the pandemic covering all aspects.
Dr Ayesha Ashfaq stressed the need to launch advocacy campaigns to guide and convince the people against any misinformation. She said that false information and lack of health literacy about any disease could result in loss of precious lives so comprehensive efforts were needed to cope with this challenge.