Nigeria’s COVID-19 campaign weakens as WHO, others stop tweeting

The World Health Organisation in Nigeria has stopped tweeting information on COVID-19 on Twitter since the Federal Government suspended the social media platform.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the Federal Ministry of Health and other agencies involved in the vaccine campaign have also stopped using Twitter, checks by Sunday PUNCH confirmed.

Facebook, which has been helping Nigerian government in pushing its COVID-19 campaign, said it had been able to remove at least 18 million false posts on vaccines on its platform and Instagram worldwide.

However, the platform also risks being banned by the Nigerian government for failing to register with the Nigerian government.

Responding to a question from Sunday PUNCH at a webinar on Thursday, the Director, WHO Africa Region, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said the WHO had been making use of alternative platforms.

She, however, said it would be appreciated if all platforms were available for the proper dissemination of information.

Moeti therefore called for an amicable settlement between the Federal Government and Twitter.

She said, “I think our duty is to adjust to situations as they arise and make the best efforts possible to find means to continue to be in contact with people, to communicate with them in other ways and to then anticipate that the issues that gave rise to this action will be resolved and that all the tools that are needed and can be useful for disseminating on a continuous basis information to our communities can be at our disposal.

“For sure, our colleagues in Nigeria will adapt and we expect and hope that matters will be resolved in such a way that whatever tool that is at our disposal can be used to the fullest extent so that people get the right information at the right time and we can make progress in terms of our mission to vaccinate everybody and stop the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Also speaking, Director of Health Partnerships at Facebook, Ms Luchen Foster, said Facebook had connected two billion people globally with reliable information about the pandemic.

“For example, we have worked with ministries of health in South Africa, Nigeria to set up a WhatsApp help line and answer questions from the public and provide accurate information and resources,” Foster added.

She said Facebook had also developed resources like the COVID-19 information centre on the platform that prominently features WHO contents so people can get on demand accurate information in their language.

“Now we also have to be vigilant about the information that has been shared on our platform and since the pandemic has begun, we’ve also removed more than 18 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram for violating our COVID-19 and vaccine policies,” Foster added.

When asked if Facebook would be registering in Nigeria as ordered by the Federal Government, Foster said she could not say and subsequently asked our correspondent to reach out to the media team of WHO.

PUNCH

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