Ghana’s COVID-19 cases are on a steep rise with an average of about 600 new cases being recorded each day since the last fortnight. Already some restrictions on social gatherings have been announced subject to further reviews if citizens do not strictly adhere to the safety protocols.
Mistrust, misconceptions and conspiracies about the disease are also rife. Public discourse on COVID-19 vaccines are greeted with several disinformation and misinformation emphasizing the need to intensify public education, and counter the spread of fake news that comes with the pandemic.
With support from the European Union, the MFWA is rolling out phase two of its Fact-checking initiative on Countering Fake news and mis/disinformation on COVID-19. The project is aimed at ensuring that the public, especially the less literate and rural dwellers, have access to verified and factual information about the disease. Specifically, the initiative will make available to Ghanaians, accurate, timely, inclusive and relevant information about COVID-19 and response actions by government and health authorities.
As was done under phase one of the project, claims and statements from speeches, news stories, viral messages on social media and other media publications about the disease will be tracked and verified. Findings from these checks will be published on the MFWA’s dedicated fact-checking website and social media platforms (https://www.facebook.com/FactCheckGhana/ @factcheck_ghana). Explainers, facts and myth-busters about COVID-19 will also be produced and widely circulated.
To ensure maximum inclusiveness, the initiative will also partner and support some local language broadcast radio stations to produce and broadcast stories and documentaries that debunk viral messages on conspiracy theories about developed vaccines, fictitious cures and other false narratives about the pandemic in languages that most citizens can better understand. The fact-checked reports by the MFWA will also be amplified by the partner radio stations.
In 2020, the first phase of the project, supported by STAR Ghana Foundation through the UKAID and the EU reached about 8 million Ghanaians with factual and timely information on COVID-19. The MFWA’s team of fact-checkers tracked, verified and debunked fake news and misinformation online and offline. A constituted network of Media Alliance Against COVID-19 Misinformation also focused on publicizing fact-checked reports, busting myths, tracking and debunking fake news. Partner radio stations also produced jingles, and dramas to educate their audience and dispel the myths and other misconceptions about the coronavirus disease. A Twitter advertising grant was secured to amplify COVID-19 fact-checked reports which resulted in over 2.5 million twitter impressions on fact-checked reports published under the project.
This current initiative is part of the COVID-19 response: Together for Reliable Information program, supported by the European Union through a joint consortium of Free Press Unlimited, ARTICLE 19, Reporters without Borders (RSF), Foundation Hirondelle, Deutsche Welle Akademie and International Media Support (IMS) in collaboration with UNESCO.