Mrs Patience Ekeoba, the National Programme Officer, UN Women in Nigeria, has expressed worry over misinformation and poor access to right information by women on the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Ekeoba said this at a Webinar on Overriding Influence of Misinformation on the COVID- 19 Pandemic, organised by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in Abuja on Tuesday.
Speaking on the theme, “The impact of Misinformation on Women and Girls during Health Emergencies”, she said that such affected women and girls access to sexual and reproductive health.
According to her, lack of true and concise information is fueling anxiety and making women who are on family planning services not getting them.
While noting that this would lead to making compromising decisions, she called for partnership with women rights’ organisations in dispelling fears about COVID-19.
According to her, misinformation affects women more because they play multiple roles as nurses, traders, home makers and also control the informal sector as farmers.
She said that women needed correct information to make informed decisions about their wellbeing.
“We have had scenarios of women who deal on perishable goods losing their incomes from bad decisions as the information didn’t get to them in a timely manner.
“Women have been excluded and stigmatised from getting the palliatives being shared in some places, as they lack the strength to contend with the male folks,” the programme officer said.
Ekeoba also expressed concern that cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) were on the increase among women and girls, saying current data stood at 67 per cent.
She said that it was important for abused women to have the needed information to know where to get help and the needed support in a timely manner.
According to her, the impact of misinformation on the pandemic include heightened fear, sleeplessness, depression and more health issues.
She called for the creation of more counseling and psychosocial centres to cater for the needs of women and girls post COVID-19 era.
Earlier, Dr Olunifesi Suraj of the Mass Communications Department, University of Lagos, blamed the mainstream media for its role in fueling misinformation and disinformation in the country.
According to him, the truth has become a scarce commodity and it is underlying the voice of the knowledgeable ones who are in the minority.
Suraj stressed the need for educated people amongst the populace to take the lead in sharing knowledge and debunk fake news in its entirety.
He described misinformation as a pandemic that could only be cured by sharing of timely and accurate information at all times.
According to the WHO, the COVID-19 pandemic is accompanied by an Infodemic, a spread of disinformation and misinformation; making it difficult for people to get accurate information for informed decisions.