The dramatic arrival of the COVID-19 global pandemic calls for the sharing of useful, timely and accurate information, to help people make sense of the changes in their lives and to learn ways to protect themselves and stop the spread of the virus.
Along with traditional outreach methods, Myanmar’s COVID awareness-raising educational campaigns use social media channels. Daily 8pm updates on the Ministry of Health and Sports Facebook page are very popular, particularly among Myanmar’s youth.
Creative communication grabs attention, effectively teaching basic health and safety messages. Young Myanmar activists have been inspired by the recent Vietnamese pop dance Internet sensation highlighting the importance of hand washing in the fight against the coronavirus.
U-Report Myanmar and Junior Creative youth dance group have collaborated to produce a Tik Tok video challenge encouraging widespread hand washing habits and it’s a hit. U-Report Myanmar’s chat bot on COVID 19 also reaches 9,500 youth around the country.
Su Yadana, a U-Report Myanmar Task Force volunteer says, “I’m making social media campaigns for young people like me, to help relieve stress and settle emotions with clear helpful information. It’s a good way to connect with others during this crisis.”
Students at Yangon University say they are grateful for the handy ideas on washing and virus transmission learned through U-Report.
Despite massive efforts to raise awareness of coronavirus and protective health messages, there are apparently still too many people who remain uninformed.
U-Report Myanmar polls indicate that while 95 percent of the population feels informed about the disease, in Rakhine and Chin States the figure drops to 90 percent and in Kachin State it is as low as 85 percent. Facebook is reported as the main source of news on the virus for 75 percent of the poll respondents.
An over-abundance of ‘fake news’ makes it difficult for people to be sure of and trust the advice ‘out there’. One recent false post on the Internet that gained far too much traction in Myanmar suggested that the virus spreads though the consumption of ice cream.
U-Report Myanmar has teamed up with UNICEF to bust fake news and myths. In May, U-Report began broadcasting ‘U-Talk’ live chat shows that reach more that 10,000 youth, sharing accurate information about COVID-19 and promoting best ways to manage the virus safely. It’s another hit, a positive step along the path of living with and overcoming COVID-19.